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The word ‘Bohemian’ means a person who lives an unconventional lifestyle, often with few permanent ties, involving musical, artistic, or literary pursuits. Bohemian or Boho style in home decor is inspired by the free spirit & world travels. Modern boho decor style originated with hippies in the 1960s but has continued to exist since then, always in some form or another.
Bohemian or Boho decorating is for those who want homes that are full of life & culture. This aesthetic embraces the free-spirited & relaxed attitude. One of the biggest elements of bohemian style home decor is lots of bold colours and patterns and this style resonates with most of us because everyone loves colour. Also, the nature of this style makes it one of the easiest style to decorate with, because there really are no boundaries, and you can express yourself freely through the free-spirited design. This style also offers us a way to make our homes exude warmth, be more welcoming and more interesting.
Although there are no fixed rules, the following are few guidelines that will help you achieve a cosy and inviting Boho style decor in your home:
Play With Patterns & Colours
An important element of boho decor is pattern play but one of the challenges of mixing and matching patterns is the ability to determine what will look good together and what will clash. So, before moving on to patterns, decide a colour palette to work with. The picture above from artist and painter Jan Skacelik’s home shows the importance of selecting a colour scheme. There’s an earthy & muted colour palette with colours like grey, black, peach, mustard, which has been incorporated ever so subtly in all the elements & gives the room a cosy and inviting look.
While decorating, a general rule is to start off with a neutral colour on the walls and flooring and use bold prints/colours in either your rugs or in a few accent pieces of furniture. Then fill in your space with neutral coloured sofas, chairs etc. to neutralize the room. The bold patterns will work magically when contrasted with the subdued neutral tones. You can also intermingle large-scale patterns with smaller scale prints as long as the colour palette stays in the same colour family. For example, choose a large print for your curtains/window treatments and then select smaller scale patterns for accent pillows, and other textiles in the room. Decorating with traditional textiles that you may have collected from your travels is another great idea. However, it is not always necessary to have neutral walls or floors. You can incorporate patterns through wallpaper as well. If you choose a very big and bold print, consider using this on an accent wall and then using a smaller print or maybe solid coloured paint on the adjacent walls. This will help to bring about a balanced look.
The image below from Artist Meenal’s home shows the clever juxtaposition of solid colours with patterns to bring out a bright & colourful look. Also note that there are enough neutral coloured elements like the walls, floor covering, wooden cupboard, rattan baskets etc. to help balance the bright colours.
Incorporate Textures & Layering
Textured textiles are trending in a big way and work well in a lot of styles of home decor. In a boho-style home, you want to layer textures eclectically alongside layered colours and patterns. For example, layer hand-woven textured cushions onto a solid toned couch on top of a textured shag rug as in the image below. This combination of colours and textures will feel artistic and interesting, yet cosy and alluring. That is what boho decorating is all about.
One of the best ways to layer textures is to start with larger textural pieces, for example, a sofa or an exposed wooden table (or both) and then add smaller accessories and soft furnishings until the room feels complete to you. Unique textures can really make an interior stand out. Finishes like macrame and rattan create a striking contrast to fabric textures, and rugs and carpets can play an important part in layering and imparting texture too. Also, remember that texture doesn’t just have to come from the furniture in a room. Textured wall and floor finishes are trending at the moment and decorators are getting more creative with these elements. Texture can also be brought to the walls by way of woven macrame pieces or by hanging interesting, vintage rugs or tapestry on the walls.
Mix Vintage & Modern To Accentuate the Boho Touch
For a space to feel comfortable, inviting & lived-in, traditional or vintage furniture plays an important part of that aesthetic. Vintage furniture has the additional benefit of often featuring solid wood aspects and old-world charm. For example, the image alongside shows an intricately designed cupboard, crafted using a combination of solid teak wood and patterned ceramic tiles, blending the modern and the traditional. This will also be a great way to bring in an element of nature which will pair well with the soft textures of modern textiles. Even one accent piece of vintage furniture amidst all other modern pieces can add a lot of character & interest to a space.
Bring In Nature
The boho decor style celebrates nature & plants, whether live or faux, and they are a fantastic and unexpected way to add texture to a space. If selecting live plants, select plants suited for indoors so that they stay lush and healthy. Hanging plants in macrame planters or jute baskets will bring a dimension of nature and texture into a space and if you have certain elements of jute, cane or rattan in your decor, then their presence can be further accentuated by bringing in planters of these materials.
Introduce Natural & Handmade Materials For A Lived-In Feeling
Another important aspect of including nature in your home is focusing on furniture and accessories with natural elements. A natural wood coffee table or a piece of rattan or wicker accent furniture in the living room will bring just the right amount of texture into the space. This effect can be further accentuated by the use of woven bamboo or jute baskets for storage or as planters. Jute rugs can also be used on their own or layered with shaggy or woven rugs.
Pay Attention To Lighting
Bohemian style is layered in all ways, and layering can be applied to lighting as well. Having multiple light sources which are not just functional but also interesting to look at, will add a touch of soft glow and warmth. Pendant lighting made from lanterns, baskets or macrame can be added to the corners and can highlight the accents, vignettes or plants adorning your room. String lights are another great way to bring in warm, dim light. Lighting is a great way to give your home that collected, curated feel & a warm glow.
Create Curated Vignettes
A “vignette” in home decorating refers to a small grouping of objects that creates a pleasing focal point and “tells a story”. Vignettes bring charm, character, and life to any space. You may incorporate natural elements, some antiques, curios, vases, candles, lamps, books and many more things to create your own vignettes and ramp up the boho quotient of your space. Images below show some interesting home accents that can be a part of vignettes.
Accessorize With Cushions & Throws To Add Comfort
Throws, pillows & cushions are an essential part of your bohemian room’s decor. Pillows check nearly every box in the bohemian lookbook – they are comfortable, inviting & have soft lines. Add a variety of sizes and shapes of pillows & cushions, along with throws, with an emphasis on intricate patterns, textures & colours all around. It’ll be a great idea to create a floor seating arrangement with floor cushions for an extra cosy vibe.
Dress Up Your Walls
Finally, intricately decorated walls displaying your memories and souvenirs can be a great way to bring interest into a space. There are a number of ways to decorate your walls, be it paintings, wall plates, photo frames, baskets, mirrors, plaques, clocks etc. If you have bookshelves, be sure to decorate them with a free-spirited, bohemian mindset. Colourful books and small accessories inspired by your travels will complete the look. You could also display your books in a colour-blocked manner for a colourful look.
There are many ways of achieving bohemian decor. For example, you may want to have white walls with coloured & textured textiles, or, you might prefer texture or a pattern on every surface, from the rugs to the wallpaper and everything else. Neither one is wrong and they are both boho style. The image below from the home of designer & artist Alyse Rodriguez is a perfect example of achieving a boho decor even with such limited use of colour. However, if you think that just those coloured cushions are contributing to the boho-eclectic vibe, think again. Whether it’s the statement plants in the room corners or the sideboard with perforated doors, the golden framed mirror, the bamboo side table, the rug, or the kilim textile cushions, each element jumps out of the frame and is contributing to the overall look of the room. A lot of thought would have gone to achieve such a coherent & balanced look.
While decorating in bohemian style, the only thing to remember is that a boho-style room is reflective of you, your artistic preferences and your collections from travels, so make sure to select elements that speak to your personality and have a story. Express this story through an interplay of colours, layers & textures, & bring your boho room together with family heirlooms, handmade items and accessories. Make sure that each element is meaningful to you. If you love every item in your home, it will easily feel cosy and inviting.