Navajo decor and design motifs have become an increasingly popular trend in home decor over the past few years. Drawing inspiration from the art and culture of the Navajo Nation, this style incorporates natural elements, Native American patterns, and a rich color palette to create a unique and eye-catching look. From blankets and rugs to wall hangings and decorative accents, Navajo-inspired decor allows you to bring the beauty of the American Southwest into your own home. Keep reading to learn more about the origins of Navajo design, key elements of the style, and tips for incorporating it into your interior.

A Brief History of Navajo Design

The Navajo are the largest federally recognized tribe in the United States, with a population of over 300,000. They originated in western Canada and Alaska, migrating south into what is now the American Southwest and northern Mexico around 1000 CE. Navajo lands currently span parts of Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah.

Traditional Navajo life centered around pastoralism and agriculture. Women were the primary makers of nearly all Navajo crafts and art forms. Textile weaving, jewelry making, pottery, and basketry provided not only beautiful objects for everyday use but also served as sources of trade and commerce.

Design motifs found in Navajo art and crafts often reflected the tribe’s deep spiritual beliefs and connection to the natural world. These motifs have been passed down through generations and continue to hold deep meaning for Navajo artists today. Some common examples include:

  • Wool rugs with geometric diamond, triangle, and zigzag patterns, symbolizing monsters slain by Navajo deities.
  • Pottery and baskets with bear paw prints, representing strength and protection.
  • Jewelry featuring corn stalks, birds, horses, deer, and other animals significant in Navajo culture.

While Navajo craftsmanship has an ancient legacy, many of the iconic patterns and styles we associate with it emerged during the 19th and early 20th centuries. The popular wearing blanket style, for example, developed beginning in the 1850s as a response to outside influences like the arrival of the railroad and Euro-American traders.

In the 1920s-40s, Navajo weavers began increasing their use of yarn dyes like aniline red, developing the eye-catching colors that make Navajo textiles so striking today. But traditional natural dyes like indigo blue, yellow from rabbitbrush, and brown from walnut shells are still frequently used.

Key Elements of Navajo Design Style

Navajo-inspired home decor combines time-honored tribal motifs and craft techniques with a bold, modern aesthetic. Some hallmarks of the style include:

Vibrant Colors

Saturated hues are an essential part of the look. Traditional Navajo blankets and rugs utilize vivid primary colors like crimson red, brilliant yellow, and deep blue. Decor items in this style also incorporate secondary colors like orange, green, and purple. When used together, these bright colors create a lively, energizing mood.

Geometric Patterns

Angular geometric designs are prevalent in Navajo weaving. Look for items featuring diamond, triangle, zigzag, and other angular shapes. Arrows are another common motif. These patterns symbolize order and protection in Navajo culture. Their repetition creates a graphic, eye-catching appearance.

Natural Materials

Wool is the quintessential material in Navajo weaving, but textiles may also incorporate natural fibers like cotton, alpaca, and silk. Other common materials are clay for pottery, silver and turquoise for jewelry, and twigs and grasses for baskets. Decor items made from or embellished with these organic materials complement the tribal artisanal look.

Organic Shapes

While geometric patterns predominate, rounded organic shapes are also seen in Navajo designs. Circles, ovals, curved lines, and animal outlines provide contrast to the linear shapes and represent natural elements like the sun, moon, and living creatures important to the Navajo.

Artisan Craftsmanship

Authentic Navajo pieces are handmade using time-intensive traditional techniques like loom weaving, silversmithing, and pottery shaping. Products are often signed by the Navajo artist. Prioritizing items made directly by Navajo artisans helps support this rich creative tradition.

Tips for Incorporating Navajo Decor

Want to bring some Southwestern native flair into your home using Navajo-inspired decor? Here are some tips for pulling off this trend skillfully:

Invest in an Authentic Rug or Blanket

An intricately woven wool Navajo rug or pictorial blanket can anchor the look. When choosing one, opt for a vintage piece or one directly from a Navajo weaver over a factory-made imitation for maximum authenticity. Display it prominently on a wall, draped over a sofa or chair, or even framed in a custom textile box frame.

Add Woven Accents

Navajo pillows, placemats, table runners, and wall hangings made using traditional weaving techniques are easier investments than pricier rugs. Use them to inject tribal style throughout your home, in both living spaces and bedrooms.

Choose Pottery with Tribal Designs

Hand-thrown pottery with Navajo motifs etched into it make chic rustic decor elements. Display on open shelving or in a curio cabinet to highlight the American Indian artistry. Opt for ceramics in warm natural clay tones and minimal glazes to complement the handcrafted look.

Display Authentic Jewelry and Accessories

Silver and turquoise jewelry, beaded moccasins or belts, and horsehair pottery are just some of the ways to intersperse smaller Navajo accents. Opt for vintage or artisan-made goods over mass-produced accessories. Display them in a shadowbox, on decorative hooks, or in other creative ways.

Add Woven Wall Baskets

The unique coiled weaving technique used in Navajo basketry makes for interesting wall art. Baskets come in various shapes and designs, from simple catchalls to elaborately patterned shapes. Hang one by itself or arrange a trio over a sofa or bed.

Use Tribal Motifs in Textiles

Pillows, throws, and upholstery with Navajo-inspired patterns bring the trend to soft furnishings. Custom printed throw pillows featuring traditional geometric designs or animal symbols make it easy to infuse any space with touches of native style.

Paint or Decal Walls

For a bolder impact, paint a focal accent wall in an energetic saturated hue like turquoise, orange, or yellow. Use painter’s tape to create a geometric zigzag design. Or apply Navajo-patterned wall decals, which add color without the commitment of paint. Focus the colorful patterns on one wall to avoid looking too busy.

Add Southwestern-Style Accents

Rustic wood furniture, cowhide rugs, horse sculptures, and potted cacti complement the native vibe without going full kitsch. Keep these touches minimal and avoid obvious Southwestern clichés. The Navajo elements should take center stage.

Navajo Decor for Every Room

While especially fitting for a southwestern or rustic interior, a touch of Navajo flair can enhance any room’s style. Here are some ideas:

Living Room

  • Hang a vibrant hand-woven Navajo tapestry on the wall as the focal point.
  • Roll out an antique Navajo rug in vivid hues.
  • Display Native pottery on open shelving or in a glass-front cabinet.
  • Use tribal print pillows to inject pattern and color.


  • Hang Navajo baskets above the sink or on the walls as charming rustic art.
  • Use traditional zigzag or diamond patterns on dish towels, potholders, and trivets.
  • Place colorful clay Navajo pottery on open kitchen shelving.


  • Make a Navajo blanket into a striking headboard by mounting it on the wall behind the bed.
  • Use native-print sheets, shams, blankets, and pillows to create a coordinating theme.
  • Display dreamcatchers and woven baskets on the walls for a nature-inspired accent.


  • Use towels, shower curtains, and decor in Southwest colors like turquoise, orange, or terracotta.
  • Apply geometric Navajo vinyl wall decals as an accent over the sink or tub.
  • Display handcrafted soapstone animal sculptures on shelves or in corners.

Home Office

  • Hang a dreamcatcher over your desk as a whimsical focal point.
  • Decor your office with Navajo pottery, baskets, and prints for visual inspiration.
  • Choose a Navajo-patterned fabric for making custom desk accessories like blotters.


  • Hang a vivid woven wall hanging behind console tables or coat hooks.
  • Roll out a bold southwest-patterned entry rug.
  • Display turquoise and silver jewelry in a shadowbox on the wall.

Shopping for Authentic Navajo Pieces

When sourcing Navajo-made goods for your home, here are some tips for identifying authentic pieces:

  • Look for the artist’s signature – Authentic Navajo art and craftwork is almost always signed by the artisan. Etched pottery, silver jewelry stamps, and labels on textiles identify the maker.
  • Buy directly from Navajo sellers – Seek out reservation trading posts, online Navajo co-ops, auction houses like Scottsdale Art Auction that deal in native arts, and stores carrying products directly from Navajo artisans.
  • Examine materials and methods – Handspun wool and natural dyes in rugs, hand-etched pottery, and silversmith jewelry techniques indicate genuine Navajo origin. Familiarize yourself with traditional styles.
  • Learn to spot knockoffs – Be wary of “Navajo-style” products mimicking genuine designs. Seek older vintage pieces for authenticity.
  • Ask trusted sellers questions – Reputable sellers should provide information on artists, materials, age, and origin. Don’t be afraid to ask questions to verify authenticity.

Modern Takes on Navajo Style

For a fresh twist, try integrating Navajo motifs into unexpected spaces using modern materials and styling:

  • Decorate with graphic black, white, and red Navajo-inspired prints on pillows, rugs, and wallpaper in modern environments like mid-century homes. The high contrast looks striking against sleek backgrounds.
  • Use turquoise laminate, metal cut-outs, or handpainted decals with Navajo patterns as artistic backsplashes in contemporary kitchens.
  • Seek out Navajo jewelry makers and weavers creating one-of-a-kind avant-garde pieces incorporating new materials like acrylic wool and precious metals. Pair their contemporary tribal designs with modern fashion.
  • Shop home decor collections from young Native American artists and studios like OXDX and Citizen Potawatomi that put fresh spins on their tribes’ ancient legacies through abstract geometric patterns, conceptual installations, and fused materials.

The timeless appeal of Navajo motifs endures, but modern design fans shouldn’t be afraid to make this trend their own. When thoughtfully integrated into a contemporary home, these ancestral designs feel anything but stale.

Navajo Design Resources

Looking to further immerse yourself in the beauty of Navajo art and make informed decor purchases? Check out these excellent resources:

  • ShopNavajoEtsy – An Etsy collective featuring hundreds of Navajo artisans selling handmade jewelry, rugs, art, and more.
  • Navajo Arts and Crafts Enterprises – An online co-op and store representing over 800 Navajo artisans. They also publish catalogs highlighting notable artists.
  • Navajo Weavers – Features traditionally woven rugs for sale directly from Navajo weavers based in New Mexico.
  • Navajo Rug Auctions – Specialized online auction house offering vintage collectible Navajo rugs to interior designers and rug aficionados.
  • Navajo Arts and Crafts – Online gallery highlighting many acclaimed Navajo painters, sculptors, jewelers, and weavers.
  • Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site – The oldest continuously operating Navajo trading post, now a National Park Service site with exhibits interpreting Navajo arts. Worth a visit!

Immersing yourself in books and resources on Navajo culture, symbolism, and craft techniques helps you appreciate Navajo artistry and make informed collecting choices when decorating with this iconic style.

FAQs About Navajo Decor

Navajo culture and artistic traditions offer endless inspiration for interior design. But for those new to this trend, questions may arise when decorating with Navajo motifs. Here are answers to some frequently asked questions:

Is it appropriate for non-Navajo people to use Navajo designs in home decor?

Respectfully appreciating and collecting authentic Navajo art as home decor is not considered cultural appropriation. Purchasing Navajo pieces directly supports native artists. Avoid using “Navajo-inspired” designs not created by actual Navajo artists, which are inauthentic.

How can you tell if vintage Navajo rugs or other decor items are genuinely made by Navajo artisans versus mass-produced knockoffs?

Look at materials, construction methods, signatures, labels, and overall quality. Natural dyes, handspun wool, intricate weaving, and artist stamps indicate authentic origin. Learn about traditional Navajo designs and buy from trusted sellers.

What’s the best way to incorporate Navajo decor elements without looking like overly literal Southwestern kitsch?

Use Navajo pieces thoughtfully as accents and focal points against simpler backdrops, rather than going overboard with a heavily native-themed look. Concentrate on authentic artisan goods over mass-market items.

How can Navajo rugs, blankets, and textiles be incorporated into decor in a way that protects them from damage?

Avoid placing antique Navajo rugs in high-traffic areas. Display textiles on walls, beds, or furniture using padding to minimize wear. Consider framing very delicate weavings. Ensure humidity and temperatures don’t fluctuate drastically.

What are good ways to arrange and display a collection of different Navajo decor items like rugs, pottery, and baskets together?

Display similar items grouped together in vignettes for visual impact, like arranging baskets over a console or filling bookcase shelves with matching pottery. Limit to one bold focal point Navajo rug. Unify through color scheme.

What are some affordable and accessible ways to try out the Navajo decor look without investing in big-ticket items right away?

Start small with pillows, placemats, or wall art in native designs from home stores. Vintage jewelry and basketry also won’t break the bank. Build up to pricier hand-woven rugs over time.

How can you incorporate Navajo-inspired colors and patterns in a subtle way?

Use Navajo hues like turquoise, red, and orange in textiles or as accent walls. Add native motifs selectively through decorative pillows, ceramics, or limited wall decals instead of overload.

What are the best rooms in a home to experiment with bold Navajo decor elements?

The intrinsic vibrant colors and striking designs make Navajo decor ideal for bedrooms, living rooms, offices, and other relaxing spaces instead of high-traffic areas like kitchens.

Should Navajo rugs be displayed on the floor or hung on the wall as art? What’s better for preserving them?

For art display, gently mount sturdy newer Navajo rugs on specialty rug hangers or canvas stretcher frames. Framing delicate vintage rugs behind glass preserves them. Lay rugs on clean floors or furniture without hanging to reduce wear.

Bring the Beauty of Navajo Design into Your Home

Navajo motifs add a welcome touch of the handcrafted splendor of the American Southwest to any interior when thoughtfully incorporated. By filling your home with authentic art directly from Navajo creators, you support the livelihoods of contemporary Navajo artists and honor the legacy of their traditional culture and craftsmanship.

Whether it’s a stunning hand-loomed wool tapestry, an intricately etched clay pot, or a minimal modern accessory accented with turquoise, each Navajo decor piece combines aesthetic appeal with cultural resonance. So embrace this trend to infuse any room with artisanal allure.