The Old West is often romanticized in characters like the strong and silent cowboy, the saloon girl with a heart of gold, and the dastardly scoundrel that robs stagecoaches and calls for shootouts at high noon. But it’s the open range, more than anything, that draws the imagination. The freedom, the barren beauty, and the air of adventure that punctuate the Old West era are enough to make anyone dream of heading for the hills and into the unknown. But you don’t have to leave your home and family behind to express your love of the Old West. Instead you can simply incorporate thematic elements into your home decor.
But what are the hallmarks of western decor, and how can you add them to your home while maintaining a chic and modern aesthetic? There are plenty of ways to get the job done without making your house look like a poor, prairie cabin or a saloon straight off the set of ‘Tombstone’. The place to start is by pinpointing elements of western-style decor that appeal to you. Adding touches of warm, inviting wood is a good way to begin. If you’ve already got hardwood floors, think about adding a rustic railing to your staircase or installing raw wood beams on the ceilings in your home. You could also simplify the task by purchasing wooden furniture in a western style.
From there you’ll want to address the lighting in your home. Since you probably don’t want to go super authentic with oil lamps and candles, think about how you can emulate the soft, warm flicker of these light sources without the inherent risk of burning your house down. Antique brass lighting fixtures could help, as could lamps with warm shades. But you might also want to put your lights on dimmer switches or use Edison bulbs as a way to incorporate the yellow glow of natural flame.
Now it’s time to start fleshing out your theme with well-known items from the Old West. The trick to making horseshoes, saddles, lassos, antique branding irons, or yokes into chic and modern decor is to use them in creative ways. Instead of leaning a yoke against the wall, think about turning it into a massive lighting fixture to hang over your bar. Tack horseshoes onto discs of leather or cork to make drink coasters. Turn branding irons into wind chimes. The possibilities are endless when you use your imagination.
You can also use hunting trophies like mounted animal heads, antlers, cow skulls, and so on in your decor, but it’s usually best to do so sparingly and with the understanding that some of your guests might find decorating with carcasses a bit distasteful. Keep in mind that you can often find faux options to create the look you want without offending more sensitive visitors.
And don’t forget about Native American decorating elements for your western design, as well. If you’re interested in adding pops of color and pattern to your decor, consider the visual interest a woven blanket, a replica breastplate, or beaded pouches and dream catchers from a shop like Coyote’s Game can contribute. Western decor can sometimes make for a rather neutral palette, but Native American touches can definitely spice things up and help to create a chic aesthetic.