<h2 style="margin: 10pt 0in 0pt"><font size="3" color="#990000">Ideas for Decorating a Fireplace Mantle and Hearth with a Southwestern Theme</font></h2><p><span style="line-height: 200%; font-family: ‘Verdana’,’sans-serif’; letter-spacing: 1pt; font-size: 10pt">A fireplace can create a strong focal point within a room, especially one that has a beautiful hearth and mantle. You can add to the warm and cozy effect by decorating the mantle and hearth in a Southwestern themed decor. There are a number of ways that you can decorate to create this effect.</span></p><p><span style="line-height: 200%; font-family: ‘Verdana’,’sans-serif’; letter-spacing: 1pt; font-size: 10pt"><div style="text-align: center"><img src="../images/western-fireplace.jpg" border="0" alt="Western fireplace design" title="Western fireplace design" width="425" height="282" /></div></span></p><span style="line-height: 200%; font-family: ‘Verdana’,’sans-serif’; letter-spacing: 1pt; font-size: 10pt"><p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt" class="MsoNormal"><strong>Native American and Mexican Influenced Accents</strong></p>  <p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt" class="MsoNormal">The authentic "Southwestern" look is generally one of bold colors, clean geometric shapes, and rough textures. It’s usually an artistic type of style that isn’t overly fussy, but instead seems solid, captivating and comfortable. </p>  <p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt" class="MsoNormal">Southwestern themes can include both Native American accents, as well as the Mexican influence. You can either choose between these two distinctive themes, or blend them together. Either way, often the decor has a creative handcrafted look overall, and is generally rustic in appearance. There is an emphasis on natural materials and textures. If your room has light colored or white walls, decorating the fireplace mantle in a Southwestern theme can add a punch of color and texture to the room. Or, you can paint the wall behind the fireplace in a deeper color, such as a warm yellow or even a bold color such as turquoise to create an even stronger visual focus.</p>  <p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt" class="MsoNormal"><strong>Pottery and Earthenware</strong></p>  <p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt" class="MsoNormal">There are several things you can add to a fireplace mantle to achieve the Southwestern look. Using a runner or swath of hand-woven fabric in colors from the Southwestern palette, such as earth tones, yellows and terra cottas, can provide a good base from which to work. If you have any vacation photos from the Southwestern area, these can be framed and displayed on the mantle. Earthenware, Mexican pottery, and terra cotta items can be arranged artfully on the mantle, including perhaps a rustic vase containing an arrangement of wildflowers, such as Blue Sage, African Daisies, and Coneflowers. Candles, perhaps in a wrought iron candleholder, can add a warm and captivating touch. If you have any authentic Native American or Mexican artwork, a large framed piece would look great hung over the fireplace, or perhaps use a colorful hand-woven tapestry or blanket in the same fashion.</p>  <p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt" class="MsoNormal"><strong>Baskets and Blankets</strong></p>  <p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt" class="MsoNormal">On the hearth in front of the fireplace would be a great location for an authentic handcrafted throw rug. These rugs often have a striped pattern, and you can choose one that contains colors that coordinate well with the room’s overall decor. A basket containing several colorful blankets can add a colorful and cozy look to the fireside area, while keeping blankets close at hand for snuggling beside the fire. A large potted cactus placed to one side of the fireplace on the hearth, or a collection of smaller cactus in interesting pottery pots, could complete the effect.</p>   <p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt" class="MsoNormal">The Southwestern look is equally effective year-round. The Southwestern desert motive is seasonal for the warm seasons, and provides a cozy backdrop for the cold seasons, encouraging the family to gather around the fireplace, enjoying the warmth of both the fire and the Southwestern decor.</p>  <p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt" class="MsoNormal"><strong>About the Author</strong></p><p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt" class="MsoNormal"><span style="line-height: 200%; font-family: ‘Verdana’,’sans-serif’; letter-spacing: 1pt; font-size: 10pt">Jessica Ackerman, designer and staff writer for WallDecorandHomeAccents.com, is quick to share his expansive knowledge of <a href="http://www.walldecorandhomeaccents.com/wallsconces.html" target="_blank">candle wall sconces</a> with anyone who <a href="http://www.walldecorandhomeaccents.com/wooden-wall-art.html" target="_blank">carved wood wall panels</a>.</span></p></span>