Bohemia is a region in the Czech Republic and, in the past, was home to artists, musicians, writers, and actors who traveled like gypsies throughout major European cities in search of fortune. The term Bohemian is inspired by their nomadic and artistic way of life.
Today, bohemian is more of an adjective than a noun and indicates an aesthetic that takes its influence from past generations’ free spirits. The modern boho chic look is eclectic and emphasizes ethnic and vintage pieces from the 1950s, ’60s, and ’70.
Boho decor is relaxed, eclectic, individual. It is a mixture of colors and textures that often clash. Inspiration is taken from many different cultures and combined to create a quirky mismatch of art, textiles, trinkets, and color.
The core of the bohemian aesthetic is that it’s personal and relaxed. Boho styles are not styled for any other person’s enjoyment but your own.
There are no set rules when it comes to boho style. The look is easily achieved by clashing colors. Most people think of bright, vibrant jewel colors such as deep purples, shocking pinks, emerald green, and sunshine yellow. Bohemian style incorporates multicolored patterns onto a strong background. Earthy, warm tones can be used, taking inspiration from wood and tribal designs.
Patterns and Textures
Bold patterns feature highly in bohemian chic. Look for beautiful hanging tapestries with intricate designs, sequins, gold threads, and mirrors. Scatter your sofa and bed with sumptuous velvet cushions with bold patterns.
Paisley pattern is a popular style – giving the nod to the bohemian hippies of the 1960s and 70s. Drape floaty, floral fabrics around windows or scatter rugs with African and Aztec geometric prints on the floor. Circular mandala patterns that originated thousands of years ago are another popular pattern to mix with more modern designs.
When furnishing a room in bohemian style, the only rule is ‘don’t use clean-lined, glossy, modern pieces.’ Furniture should be wooden, bamboo, or rattan and quite quirky or rustic in appearance. To add pops of color, paint old pieces of furniture in bright colors with chalk or milk paint. Give your painted items a distressed, antique look. Bohemian is all about being an individual, so just fill the rooms with unique pieces that you like. Steer clear of matching bedroom suites – mismatch and clash!
Low lying furniture such as Arabic floor sofas, futons, and floor cushions are great for creating a comfy, relaxed look. Sofas should be soft and squishy and upholstered in bright velvet, chenille, canvas, or earthy leather. A chaise longue or a sleeper sofa with a chaise will offer comfort, extra sleeping options, and a touch of elegance. Leather poufs with elaborate Moroccan style embroidery will provide additional seating or a place to rest your legs.
Carved wooden oriental or African furniture can add to the look. Dark wood carved sideboards, tables and beds will look great against intensely colored soft furnishings. Search antique stores or charity shops for unique pieces and upcycle them with paint and decoupage to make them one of a kind.
More is more! Embrace maximalism and fill every available space in your home with intriguing trinkets. Homemade wall hangings made from string, wood, or material will give your walls interest, as will lots of quirky photographs, paintings, and prints, in frames of differing sizes, styles, and colors. Don’t hang art in a precise pattern – make it uneven and random.
Large area rugs on top of wooden floors are one of the classic bohemian looks. Persian rugs, homemade rag rugs, and sheepskins will all contribute to the image.
Lighting should be dim and romantic. Adorn surfaces with elaborate candlesticks filled with scented candles or incense sticks, emitting heady scents of patchouli and sandalwood. Fairy lights hung around fireplaces or bed headboards will give a magical touch to the decor. Moroccan lanterns made from metal and tinted glass can be used as side lamps or hung from the ceiling.
Bohemians are nomadic and love to travel. Decorate your home with souvenirs from your travels. Look for Buddha statues, African beadwork, or aboriginal art to give your room a well-traveled look.
Flowers and plants, real or fake, are a key feature in bohemian decor. Go for large plants in colorful pots or if you don’t have green thumbs, incorporate flora into soft furnishings such as cushions and curtains or even decorate the walls with bright, flowery wallpapers.
Dress windows with wooden plantation shutters, bamboo or wooden blinds, or beautiful bespoke curtains made from silk, velvet, or voile.