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Southwest Inspiration: Pueblo-Style Homes

Molly GraceDecember 27, 2019

When you think of houses in the Southwest, you probably envision beautiful pueblo-style homes – stucco walls, terra cotta shingles and wood beams. But what is a pueblo-style home? They’re certainly different from the homes on the East Coast. How did this architecture become popular in the Southwest?

Let’s dig in and find out.

What Is A Pueblo-Style Home?

Stacked Pueblo houses.

Most pueblo homes are found in the Western and Southwestern United States and draw inspiration from Native American adobe houses, with touches of Spanish architecture.

These early homes had to withstand intense daytime heat and chilly desert nights. Natives used local materials, mostly a dried clay-mud mixture, to build their homes.

Traditional adobe homes had several distinct characteristics to retain and disseminate heat. The most noticeable are the thick walls, which were used to absorb heat during the day and release it throughout the night – keeping occupants relatively warm on cold nights. Small windows kept the inside cool by limiting the amount of sunlight that could get in.

Even the color of the clay was intentional. Light-colored clay prevents overheating, kind of like wearing a white shirt instead of a black shirt on a sunny day. Darker colors absorb light whereas lighter colors deflect it, keeping the house cooler.

Characteristics Of Pueblo-Style Homes

Characteristics of Pueblo homes: example pueblo house with flowers.

Once Spanish settlers started moving into the Southwest, they added traditional Spanish architectural elements to these pueblo-style homes. Arches and columns, reminiscent of some European architecture, started to become a part of many adobe homes moving toward the mid-1800s.

Characteristics of pueblo homes today include:

  • Earth-tone, stucco-covered exterior
  • Natural materials
  • Asymmetrical design
  • Vigas, or wooden beams that support the roof, that protrude outside the walls
  • Rounded corners and edges
  • Narrow, covered porches
  • Small windows
  • Brick or wood floors

Pueblo Revival Homes

Mission style pueblo house.

Pueblo revival homes became popular around the 1920s and retained many of the qualities of their predecessors. The major difference is that these houses tend to be a little more ornate in design. Bright accent colors or vibrant tiles often surround doorways and windows.

Other pueblo revival characteristics:

  • Asymmetrical design
  • Earth-tone stucco exterior
  • Multiple stories
  • Enclosed courtyards
  • Rounded exteriors
  • Square windows
  • Arched entryways
  • Low-pitched or flat roof
  • Clay tile shingles

Pueblo-Inspired Homes

Pueblo-inspired home.

Newer construction homes that keep with the pueblo style may not look exactly like traditional adobe homes; however, you can easily see the historical connection. For example, new construction homes in Las Vegas and southern California may not technically be pueblo style but pull in elements like simple stucco exteriors, minimal decor and earth tones.

Get The Pueblo-Style Look

If you like the ease and style of pueblo-style homes but aren’t in the market to remodel or purchase a new home, there are some simple things you can do to pull the pueblo feel into the interior of your home.

Much like the exterior of the home, pueblo interior design incorporates earthy base colors, natural materials, exposed wood and bright accent colors. Don’t just limit your pueblo-inspired decor to the house – take it to the yard! Enclosed courtyards are popular with pueblo revival homes, but if that’s not realistic for your space, try jazzing up a patio and making it an intentional gathering place.

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    Molly Grace

    Molly Grace is a staff writer focusing on mortgages, personal finance and homeownership. She has a B.A. in journalism from Indiana University. You can follow her on Twitter @themollygrace.