Bohemian or “boho” style of decorating embraces the sense of flowing liberty associated with the eclectic style. However, it’s just not eclectic – the word “bohemian” comes from the French word for “gypsy,” which applies to those who live unconventional and usually artistic lives. It’s often associated with hippies, artists, travelers and other “free spirits.”
The bohemian interior decorating style appeals to the unusual, carefree and relaxed. It’s where you can express your individuality, so this means, the style is as diverse as the individuals themselves. For people who prefer structure, symmetry, and order, this design style will be given a big no. But for people with whims for free expression, colorful collections, and unconventional displays – this is the style that will be wholeheartedly embraced.
Since individuality means anything can go, you may wonder what makes it a distinctive and viable style. To get the look right inside your home without looking heavy and over-the-top, here are some tips on how to decorate:
1. Start with a simple base
To create a solid foundation for your décor, start with a simple base color. White walls and simple flooring can allow any boho pieces you display to really stand out. Warm and earthy tones also make the perfect canvas, as it allows you to pile up bold colors and patterns without making the space too over-bearing. If you plan to update your décor regularly, especially if you’re a traveler who loves bringing home items from your trip, then getting a neutral canvas is always wise.
2. Choose warm, earthy colors and combine it with bolder and brighter hues
There are no rules when it comes to Bohemian decorating, but warm and earthy colors are common. Also, greens, deep browns, and grays are used as base colors (if not white), and then it’s complimented with fiery orange, fuchsia pink, electric blue or saturated purple. Metallics and jewel tones are also common in bohemian interiors. Choose bold and eclectic pieces that truly speak to you and then show them off.
3. Use low-lying furniture
The closer to the floor you are, the closer you are to creating an authentic bohemian style house. If you have observed bohemian-themed interiors, whether, on restaurants or other establishments, one common feature you can find is that they provide seating close to the floor, and even on the floor. Go for low-lying or low-backed sofas, scattered with plenty of plush and comfy throw cushions, with neighboring poufs or beanbag chairs for extra sitting. Get pillows that are plush and overstuffed to create a floor-sitting atmosphere. Your starting point to achieve comfort on the floor level is to get a comfortable rug and add layers to give that “sit and stay a while” feel.
4. Bring in second-hand items and distressed finds
Boho furniture, especially tables and armoires, usually isn’t found in a furniture store. Bohemian rooms tend to be filled with furniture collected over time. It must be special and tell a story and must have had a life before being yours. Second-hand items and vintage finds are right at home here. Scour your local vintage shops and flea markets and choose each piece individually. If you love it, it will fit right in.
5. Play with patterns and textures
Injecting various patterns is the key to achieving a lively boho interior. You can feel free to mix and match patterns and textures in a bohemian interior. Use it through rugs cushions and throws. Do have fun with mixing and contrasting different shapes, patterns, and styles, but also keep a consistent color theme to prevent the look from being disjointed.
Layering similar patterns can be one of the easiest ways to mastering bohemian style. For instance, the pattern in the upholstery in your chair can continue to the wall behind it. But the general rule is don’t be afraid to use textiles and patterns that don’t necessarily go together in a conventional way.
6. Fill up your spaces
More often, when it comes to a lot of modern decorating styles, less is more. But in bohemian styles, more is really more. It’s not about blank spaces and empty surfaces – its about indulgent maximalism. The key to a great boho room is to pack it with as much personality as possible to mimic the feeling of overflowing with life. A bohemian interior is busy, yet happy and confident with its fullness. Cover your walls with your beloved items and layer and layer materials. The sky is the limit here – you fill up your décor by adding fabrics, pillows, plants, lamps, furniture, books and arts or whatever makes your heart sing– all those that can show you’re a well-lived and well-cultured person.
7. Layer with textiles
The bohemian style is all about layering, whether rugs, cushions or throws. Cozy throws and knitted blankets are often layered on top of chairs and couches. Beds are always cozy, full of layers of beddings. Fringes, crochets, and macramé art abound, and they are often blended with throw rugs and curtains. Natural textiles made of sisal or burlap are combined with silk and chenille. Canopies draped over beds are also signature Bohemian trademark. For your floors, layer one, two or three different rugs in different textures and patterns to add a rich statement.
Layering is also a great way to conceal furnishings that may not be in their best condition. For the ultimate boho effect, use textiles from around the world to give a sense of exoticism. Try hanging tapestries and area rugs on the walls along with your photos.
8. Add plants galore
Plants and botanicals fit perfectly with the bohemian style. They double duty as an air purifier and they add pops of colors without interfering too much with the design. Hanging plants at different levels is a beautiful and natural way to add depth and interest. Be creative with planters and choose those that bring personality to your space, like woven hanging baskets and sculptural planters. Potted plants also add the same effect. It’s best to go for low-maintenance plants like succulents and fiddle-leaf figs so you don’t have to do a lot of plant care (except when you really like taking care of plants).
9. Embrace the handmade
Remember, a bohemian style home must have an earthy feel, and it can be brought in by woven items and textured art. Also, the entire style is dedicated to bringing a sense of individuality, so handmade items are really perfect for the interior. No to handmade items are exactly alike. Embrace these crafts, which come in the form of textiles like woven or braided rugs, a sculpture, an oil painting in the wall, a DIY lamp or anything. The important thing is it gives a sense of individuality and uniqueness.
10. Install ambient lightings
Ambient lighting can unify your Bohemian room and bring a calm and welcoming feel that the style wants to project. Rather than sticking with standard-looking overhead fixtures, decorate using multiple lanterns, floor and table lamps, as well as candles. Today, you can find a variety of light pieces in different shapes and styles so it’s easier to mix-and-match. Look for soft lights that create a special and comforting atmosphere. This is a key element that best shows off your treasures, and provides the sense of serenity that contrasts the almost-chaotic, free-spirited Bohemian décor.
11. Add mirrors and metallics
While the Bohemian style is eclectic, it doesn’t mean it can be chic and glamorous. Don’t hesitate to add a chunky gold-framed mirror or metallic chandelier. Metallic and mirrored surfaces are important elements in bohemian interior design, especially if you’re going for a modern bohemian style. These elements add a focal point to your rooms, as well as a sense of glamour. You can even try making your own mosaic tiled mirror for extra character.
12. Accessorize artistically and make it your own
Show everything you love and have collected over the years prominently in your bohemian décor. Use trinkets and treasures and display them to tell a story. Accessories must give the impression that you are well-traveled (even if you’re not), or it must look like it tells a story. Those that have a back story or a cultural significance is the way to go boho, like mismatched china, family heirlooms, handmade objects, vintage maps, or tapestries from Asia and Africa. If you haven’t traveled the world collecting trinkets and souvenirs, you can take a trip to local antique stores to shop for interesting treasures to display. Throw in photos of your friends, family, and favorite sceneries to keep the décor personalized. However, it shouldn’t evoke a sense that you’re a hoarder. Everything must have a place and a purpose, but you don’t have to be very rigid with your placement. Remember, go for ways that make you happy and feel fulfilled.