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Best Brown Colors for Your Desert Oasis

Design Trends

Desert style, both in its historic and modern nuances, is inspired by many elements including soothing hues, organic textures and the landscape. Whether a Mid-century modern pad in Palm Springs to a desert modern retreat in Joshua Tree or even a desert adobe in the hills of Arizona, desert homes are not typically a singular vision of an oasis.

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Desert modern style that capitalizes on sunny skies and warm climates of southern California and
American Southwest. Beginning in the 1920's, modernist architects embraced the desert environment with the theory that form follows function, and as a result created a desert modern aesthetic. As big and dramatic as the world around it, Desert Modern architecture has taken Mid-century style to the extreme by combining generous use of natural materials and adapting it to the desert environment.

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This popular design aesthetic emphasizes colors and patterns with calming effect. Completely different from Southwestern style, desert modern style emphasizes minimalism, inspired by modern and bohemian design and desert landscapes. Neutral colors, organic and natural textures, and artisanal crafts are cornerstones of this style. Fun and glamour are layered with textiles.

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Desert Modern Colors
Desert modern palettes are restrained with warm neutral sandy tones, cool whites and warm grays as a neutral base with pops of color inspired by the local desertscape. Here are 12 exterior color schemes for desert modern architecture style as guidance:

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Desert Modern Palettes
To highlight the best of desert modern design and create a color palette using browns and warm neutrals, consider these ideas to get you started:

  • Terracotta, Warm Hearth and Clay. The Posada, by Sara and Rich Combs of Joshua Tree House, located on the edge of Saguaro National Forest in Tucson, Arizona, is a study in slow living and relaxation. The color palette stays true to the surrounding picturesque landscape, highlighting desert hues and sophisticated earthiness. Earthy colors are necessary to nail the desert modern style, with clay colors as key to finishing the quintessential desert modern palette.

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Photo Credit: Bethany Nauert

  • Retro Revival. The 70s are back! The sizzling interest in California desert lifestyle and Mid-century design has pushed 70s design back into the spotlight. Inspired by prairie gardens, bohemian flair and folkloric design, earthy hues delight in showcasing the best of that free-flowing decade. Add to the classic look with macrame, shag carpeting, wood paneling accent and curdoroy fabric accents for a nod to the past.

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Walls: Art and Craft (DET682)


  • Rural floral fantasy. Succulants, ferns and wildflowers add natural inspiration to a space filled with art and decor supporting a renewed sense of awe for nature and human connection to the earth.

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Wall: DE6094 CANYON DUSK


  • East Meets West. Oeste, a recent project designed by Claire Thomas, was inspired by travels to Mexico and Morocco — two places known for their rich culture and eye-catching colors. It was important that the colors were impactful in telling the story behind the home, relate back to the original Mexican and Moroccan inspiration.

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Walls: DE6110 WARM HEARTH. Photo Credit: Claire Thomas


Check out more of our past ideas and information on desert modern style architecture, along with further research on color palettes for desert modern homes. And check out why we chose Art and Craft (DET682) as our 2022 Color of the Year.