Regardless of if you’re already in tune with the world of western decor or you’re just beginning to fall in love with this distinct style, this blog is for you!

1. Cowhide:

Start with a natural cowhide rug, either untrimmed and organically shaped, or artfully pieced in squares or other patterns. Other options include cowhide pillows, upholstery, ottomans, even mirror frames!

Keep cowhide classy by restricting its use to one large item, or several smaller matched pieces. The goal is to evoke the rugged range, not become part of the herd.

2. Nailhead Trim:

Nailhead trim historically served a highly functional purpose: securing fabric to furniture. The technique is thought to have originated during France’s Louis XIII period when ornate wooden chairs and furniture became popular.

Today, many western designers use nailhead trim to achieve a more finished, classic, yet still rugged look. Nailhead accents are common on chairs, sofas, ottomans, headboards, and even tables. Looking to add a touch of class to your personal saloon, kitchen, or dining room? Consider purchasing or adding nailhead trim to barstools and chairs.

If you’re a DIY-fan, there are numerous ways to decorate your own furniture with nailhead trim. An upholstered chair is an easy place to start. After you’ve found the nailheads you want to use, simply tack them into the chair along the natural lines of the furniture. Use a tape measure to ensure that each nailhead is approximately half-an-inch away from its next-door neighbor, center to center.

3. Wildlife & Horse Art:

If you’re not ready to invest in new furniture, adding wildlife or equine-themed art to your home is a beautiful way to bring the West in without having to move your existing furnishings out.  Art depicting horses (with or without cowboys or Native American riders) is a classic for a reason.  A plethora of western artists offer works in various price ranges, and are represented across the West in galleries, at art auctions and exhibits—even coffeehouses and boutiques.  Styles range from impressive realism to irreverent interpretation and everything in between.

Western wildlife, wildland landscapes and Native American subjects are also popular. Many children love a cowboy or cowgirl-themed bedroom. Youngsters will enjoy a big, bright painting that reminds them they’re at home in their very own room.

For casual consumers, a tour through any area of the West will provide ample opportunities for obtaining a beloved painting, sculpture or fine art photograph; serious collectors will want to attend a major auction or festival or consult an established gallery where significant investments are accompanied by proper provenance. Shown: Resting, by Theresa Paden.

4. Antlers & Horns:

Antlers are shed by deer, elk and moose each winter and have been collected for centuries for a myriad of human uses, while horns and mounts historically would be displayed as a way for hunters to show off their prowess. Today, one can add a wild point to their decor without ever having stepped into the woods or picked up a rifle. 

Today’s modern boutiques, design catalogs and websites feature everything from chandeliers to mirrors to curtain holders crafted from authentic antler sheds—or reproduced in ceramic, art glass, wood or resin.  To bring this time-honored tradition into your abode, consider starting small: antler candlesticks are a simple way to dress up a coffee or dinner table. Antler or horn handled spoons and serving pieces have been seen scooping up salads, coffee beans and even bath salts in the chicest western retreats. 

To really make a statement, an antler chandelier is de rigueur for lodge style living,  but also adds a curvaceous, organic accent to contemporary spaces, and is utterly charming in French Country and Shabby Chic rooms. Shown: Extra Large single tier genuine mule deer antler chandelier with 12 lights.

5. Navajo Rugs & Textiles:

Native Americans have been weaving rugs and textiles with their signature patterns for centuries and after all this time, the work still looks great! Often cited as the inspiration for the design palette of entire western and southwestern rooms, a historic, vintage Navajo rug is true collector’s item and a major investment—not likely still used on the floor, but probably durable enough that is could be.

More recently woven Navajo rugs are often just as gorgeous, and available in a wide range of prices depending upon the artisan and the authenticity of the design.  Additionally, many companies utilize both traditional and contemporary Navajo and Navajo-inspired artisans to produce more commercially available rugs that fit a wider range of budgets. Often used as floor coverings and displayed on walls, Native American–style textiles can also be incorporated into table linens and runners, pillows, and an assortment of other creative applications.

Aspiring connoisseurs will note that various indigenous peoples produce distinctive textile styles, such as the talented and artistic Zapotec Indians of Central America, whose fringed edges and brighter colors differentiate their weavings from traditional Navajo pieces. Shown: 1920s Red Mesa/Teec Nos Pos Navajo Rug.

6. Iron & Metalworks:

A homage to the blacksmiths of yesteryear, today’s ironworks remain a sturdy way to anchor a room’s design, contain a firebox or fire pit, support a table, form a lighting fixture or support a candle, all while contributing a lasting artisan element to your space.

Unlike the often heavy handed products of the past, modern metalsmiths produce what can only be described as fine art, forged of both base metals and rampant creativity, with the designs as unlimited as the inspirations of the artists themselves.

Nevertheless, this is still a high testosterone ingredient, which beautifully balances softer fabrics, glam or glitter, and romantic florals.

(Originally published in the August/September 2014 issue of Cowgirl Magazine).