The earthy, functional home style with indigenous pueblo origins

The earthy, functional home style with indigenous pueblo origins

You’ve likely seen an adobe house if you’ve ever been to the Southwest United States. This is a home that has deep roots in the region’s Indigenous history. Although many homes in the southwestern style have a similar rustic and earthy look, adobe-style houses are practical for extreme climates.

What is an Adobe-Style House?

Adobe-style homes are also known as Pueblo-style homes. The Pueblos created them. Adobe-style homes, made of durable natural materials, have thick walls and flat roofs. They are perfect for harsh and dry climates such as the Southwest United States. The adobe-style homes of today are often based on the original indigenous architecture and constructed with timber frames rather than earthen materials.

What makes a house Adobe Style?

Adobe-style homes share the same key features due to their unique history and functionality. Jojola says that adobe can be described as an earthen material containing earth and water, grass or straw. At first, adobe-style houses were rectangular, but later, indigenous people made the homes rectangular.

Larach says that adobe-style houses are flat-roofed with rounded edges. The extension also acts as a barrier to rainwater collection, a valuable resource in hot and dry climates. Adobe houses have thick walls that absorb heat during hot days and release it during cool nights.

Adobe homes can be used inside or out. They have concrete or tiles floors that keep the home cool in hot weather. Many adobe houses look rustic from the inside. Wooden beams support the roof and a fireplace on the main floor.

These are just a few of the other features that you can expect in an adobe-style home:


  • Natural and earthy colors
  • Often, straw bricks, clay, and mud are used to construct these structures.
  • Solid, waterproof foundation
  • Flat roofs with rounded edges
  • Walls thick with sharp angles
  • Commonly, rooftop gardens or outdoor lounge spaces are used.


  • Floor plans with one- or two-story floors that are oriented around a central courtyard
  • Deep-set windows
  • A fireplace beehive-like is usually placed in the corner
  • Bedrooms have low lighting, but the kitchen has high lighting
  • Exposed vigas (or wooden beams) are used to support the roof.
  • Built-in benches
  • Lower floors are set back behind the main floor

Adobe-Style Houses: History

Jojola claims that the history of these houses can be traced back to the Indigenous Pueblo. This is one of many Indigenous nations in the Southwest United States. The first adobe-style house designs were circular pit houses built half in the ground and half on top. Jojola claims that the first adobe-style circular homes became rectangular around 800 AD. People began to separate the rooms in their homes and used different soil types for different areas.

Adobe-style homes are rustic and have unique features, offering functionality. For example, thick natural walls protect from the elements. The Southwest is known for extreme temperature swings. Jojola claims that adobe material absorbs heat and then releases it into the home’s interior when it cools down.

Adobe-style homes can be found today in the Southwest United States. These homes are more common in cities like Santa Fe, New Mexico and Albuquerque. Due to the extreme heat, many Florida and Southern California homes are adobe-style.

These homes now incorporate Spanish design and Indigenous building materials because of Spanish colonization.

Interior Design