Transform your home into a cozy Bohemian sanctuary and relax in it at the end of the day.
Bohemian style in interior design
Waking up each morning. It somehow remains surprising that we all get up and continue with the rat race that hasn’t stopped since prehistory.
A compelling argument can be made for the positive effects of a working society. For instance, it would be difficult to imagine a world where you’d be able to read this article if the human race had decided that work wasn’t for us.
That doesn’t, however, mean it is enjoyable.
It certainly wasn’t the hippies’ idea of fun. In fact, they built a whole counter culture opposing it.
I’m not sure who the person was that officially coined the term Bohemian but I can tell you that it was the French who named Roma Gypsy travellers Bohemian as they assumed Bohemia in central Europe was their birth place.
This says most of what you need to know about the Bohemian style really. That includes both the dress sense and the interior designing.
The style is free and without rigidity. There isn’t much conformity and as a result the stereotypical occupations associated with the style are artists, writers and those who like to act.
These kinds of people love to travel to experience lots of different cultures and to bring exciting aspects of each destination back into one room. The overriding influences in Bohemian are from countries such as India, Morocco and Nepal.
You’ll find your home will become a melting pot of colors, patterns and materials that come together in an eclectic style. What’s great is, if done correctly, you can imitate a feeling of being on holiday throughout the living space.
How can you achieve the Bohemian look? The first thing to do is dig the paint brush out and get to the hardware store for some white paint. Most of the colors in this interior design style tend to come from the fabrics and accessories added later.
Earthy colors and dramatic patterns
White might seem a bit boring but a lot of the additional colors are earthy tones and the white means you’re able to keep the look as fresh as possible. Most Mediterranean homes have white walls – get the Spanish look.
As I mentioned, the colors are earthy. These include reds, pinks, yellows, oranges, grays, greens and browns.
You can see how this works in the picture below.
Bohemian style is huge on layering with different fabrics and textures. If you think of a bedroom then there’ll be blankets on top of the duvet or plenty of cushions on a couch in the living room.
Start with the greens, browns and grays as the base colors and, as you progress up through the layer hierarchy, you can start to add those flashes of more interesting colors.
I don’t want you to use block color here, you need to include some interesting geometric patterns that utilise the colors in unconventional ways. Here’s the name of one – Ikat.
Ikat is a dying technique used on all kinds of different fabrics. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to preserve both the fabric and pattern long term so it’s been an impossible task for historians to locate the origins of Ikat.
Having said that, it’s appeared in different countries and multiple cultures have used the texture as part of their traditions for centuries. These countries include Maritime Southeast Asia, the Indian subcontinent and central Asia, however, there’s also evidence of the technique in South America
Navajo weaving comes from Native Americans which frequented the Four Corners location of the United States.
The textiles they produced were used for different types of clothing including shoulder robes, wrap-around dresses and shirts.
The Navajo pattern doesn’t follow any specific rules but has large geometric shapes that are often red, brown, gray and black. The minerals found in the region the weaving developed were used to dye the fabric.
Triangles and diamonds are the primary elements but additional complex designs representing the landscape the weavers found themselves in are also depicted.
Tapa cloth is made from bark and then decorated by stamping, rubbing, painting, smoking, the list of dye transfer is endless.
The pattern comes from the Pacific Islands, primarily Fiji, Tonga and Samoa and is typically made up of a grid of squares with geometric elements alongside motifs including fish and plants.
The colors that comprise Tapa are black and rusty-brown. There are some other colors but you’ll probably need to find extra sources of colorful inspiration for your Bohemian rooms.
Traditional kilims are very widespread and can be found from the Balkan Islands all the way through to Pakistan. As with a lot of tribal textiles, the weaver often tells stories in the images they create. Examples of these are their desires, what’s making them happy and for protection against wild animals.
Kilims are slit-woven. This style of weaving means it’s possible to create sharp edges and corners in the stylization of the geometric elements that are found throughout the pattern.
Usually with a cotton fabric, Suzani is a tribal pattern that was made in Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and other Central Asian.
The Suzani design is typically composed of the sun, moon, and flowers. The oldest recorded design dates back to the late 18th Century but it’s expected they were around for centuries before.
Bohemian living room
The bohemian living room is where you get to demonstrate to your guests how carefree you are.
You’ll divide opinion in your living room and it’s going to be a 50:50 split.
One half will adore your living room, it’s going to relaxed your guests and make them feel at ease.
The other 50% will be worried that we’ve lost you to another realm
Buy whatever sofa you like, it’ll work
Unlike other design styles, Bohemian doesn’t have a definable make of sofa other than ones that look extremely comfortable to sit on.
Many examples of great Bohemian living rooms have what you could describe as Mid-Century modern which then have throws draped over them. I’ve also seen some fantastic looking brown leather sofas that work well with the rest of the decor.
As long as you don’t have a bright sky blue sofa then you will be fine.
Bohemian rugs for the bedroom
Rugs and throws are the perfect opportunity to spread your patterns all across the room. It’s not just about the aesthetics either though. Rugs and throw inherently add a cosy feel to a room by adding certain colors and materials into the area.
The rugs are usually Kilim rugs which is a pileless and made with a technique called flatweaving. They’re superb at absorbing wear and tear from a lot of people walking across them and, possibly for the same reason, they’re equally adept at absorbing spills and hiding stains.
You’ll see a lot of rugs or throws attached to walls and ceilings with free flowing fabric which, again, helps with the feeling of comfort and safety. If there was wind inside the room then the sheets should be loose enough to billow.
Bohemian bedroom furniture
Rustic bed frames work well
After having surfed the internet looking for Bohemian styled bedrooms, I’ve found that the most impressive rooms contains beds that have a rustic feel about them.
Rustic beds are usually wood and have a distressed look to them. You could try and find a decent bed frame from a flea market or you could search for manufacturers who produced new beds with a slept-in feel.
Why do rustic beds work? It’s because of the essence of what you’re trying to create. It’s a wild environment, a place that you’re able to just rock up to and still feel at ease and the rustic bed makes it seem like you’re about to stay in a cosy out house as you’ve hitch-hiked through the Pyrenees.
Wood that’s gone ten rounds with Mike Tyson adds some awesome texture to the room as well, it’s furniture that your brain can subconsciously make up stories about.
An excess of pillows and cushions
More pillows than you can shake a stick at. That’s the motto for seemingly any interior design but especially for Bohemian style.
I’m looking at a picture now and I can count seven pillows sitting on top of the bed. They’re only the visible ones, who knows what lies underneath?
A general rule of thumb is that 75% of the pillows or cushions on display at any one time need to have the kind of previously mentioned tribal pattern and/or texture. The remaining 25% can be whatever you’d like, monochrome to break everything up a bit or you can stick with an extra dose of pattern.
You also have the chance to get some massive floor cushions to go on the living room floor. If you don’t want to be confined to sitting on a sofa then they’re a great alternative as well as being social if you have friends and they want to come over.
Plants are the essential ingredient
It’s a jungle out there, and in here too after you fit each room with more houseplants than you think is necessary. You need to make it seem like a bedroom or living room was once there but it’s now being reclaimed by Mother Nature.
It’s basically a rite of passage. You can’t claim to live in a Bohemian style home if you don’t have a least a couple of plants leaves wide enough to envelope your whole head. Sit them in heavy duty stone plant pots with rocks in to hide the roots.
Some of the most amazing species to choose from are the Snake Plant, Rubber Tree, Dieffenbachia, Pothos and Chinese Evergreen.
Your worldly travels become your room accessories
Anyone who has been on a dating site will be aware of the extent that people need to tell you just how much they love travelling. By the way they definitely love it more than you and more than the next candidate.
As if that’s an unusual scenario. People enjoy discovering new places and things, travelling gives us plenty of both for our minds to unravel. Surprise, surprise.
Bohemian designing is the opposite of minimalism (I suppose it must be called maximalism then). The best rooms have a herd of artifacts that have been collected over years of adventuring across the globe.
Of course, if you haven’t picked anything up on previous trips and you aren’t planning on taking a trip any time soon, you can build up your repertoire artificially.
Here are some of the cliché accessories:
- Lots of side tables
- Masks from distance lands
- Lantern-encased lighting
Whether you want to follow these clichés or not is up to you but clichés are clichés for a reason and it’s because they work and a lot of people copy them.
The side tables are wooden and are usually small, enough to hold a few books (you should place books all over the place anyway). They’re handmade and are typically dark in color.
These side tables are perfect for displaying all sorts of items, including your masks. You know the traditional African masks that the middle class love to show off with some vague meaning behind them.
Most of the masks were originally created for religious or social occasions and represented past ancestors who’s spirit takes hold of the wearer in rhythmic movement. Many masks mix human and animal features to remind everyone where we came from.
Don’t feel as though they have to be placed on the side tables, they’re great for hanging as wall art too.
I’m not sure why lanterns have become common in Bohemian homes but I believe it’s because of the visual ‘texture’ that lanterns project. They can be used as task lighting or to alter the color of the emitted light and also throw shadows onto your white walls and weathered furnishings. If you want to find some of these for yourself then search for Moroccan Lanterns.
Some other accessories to place around the home included braided poufs, oriental tealight holders, macrame plant hangers and rattan baskets.
You’ll notice that all of these are made from natural products. The braided poufs are woven but there are alternatives made from hide, the macrame plant hangers and rattan baskets are spun from natural fibres too.
The oriental tealight holders don’t have to be oriental, they can be all sorts of styles but are usually abstract in their design. They can be created from all sorts of materials. For example, I’m looking at some that are created from coconut shells.