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The Bohemian Design Style

When artists from France plunged into poverty after the French Revolution, many of them moved to the Romani area of Paris where rent was cheaper as they sought to break free from the conventional expectations of other people.

The resulting mix of cultures accidentally gave birth to an interior design style called Bohemian. Like its originators, this style inspires rule-free interior design styles with the only rule seemingly being to embrace nature.

Bohemian design is expressive and saturates a space with colors and patterns, bears a comfortable and inviting feel, and often incorporates pieces that mean something special to the inhabitants.

Bohemian Style Architecture

Because of its free-spirited nature, it's hard to tie bohemian style, or Boho like it is popularly known, to a particular architectural style. Boho architecture is connected to nature and lack of structure and will reflect these ideas in the construction of a room.

Here's how you can achieve a Boho look with your architecture:

  • Large floor-to-ceiling or Palladian windows to let in lots of natural light. Alternatively, you can use many windows.

  • Skylights, to let in as much natural light as possible in the colder months or to bathe a room in sunlight in the summer.

  • Open shelving where you can place leafy green house plants.

  • Ceiling made of large wooden planks arranged to form a triangle instead of vaults or a flat seamless design.

Bohemian Materials

Boho design loves natural materials like sisal, cotton, hemp, jute, silk, metal, concrete, leather, and wood. This is a multi-cultural style that combines patterns, colors, and items from all over the world.

Fabric and materials should not appear too new or shiny but should seem lived with and natural. Here's how to go about your materials:

  • Choose wooden sofas, leather poufs, sisal organizers and carpets, etc.

  • For flooring, choose light wood, concrete, granite, or vinyl.

  • Great materials for wall art range from woven pieces made from wool, linen, and sisal -ranging from wall rugs to tapestry wall art and animal hide wall rugs.

  • Brass and gold are go-to metallics.

  • Rattan furniture, baskets and room dividers add flair to eclectic rooms.

Bohemian Colors and Finishes

Although the idea is to keep off a certain rule book, it's always easier if you work with a solid foundation and that means choosing a base color to work with. Warm and earthy tones make an ideal base color because they are neutral and don’t work against all the other elements in the design. They allow you to add expressive colors without overdoing it. Ideally, this is how it works for different pieces in your home:

  • Choose a set of hues that you can rely on to help you stay consistent yet playful.

  • You can choose bright patterns for soft surfaces such as runners and rugs.

  • To break the monochrome solid-colored furniture, play with throw pillows in different shapes and colors–dark purple, burgundy, tangerine, colorful patterns, etc.—from tapestry to jewel tone velvets.

  • Other colors to work into the design include browns, deep ocean blues, greys, golden yellow, saffron, turquoise, jade, and amethyst.

  • For flooring finishes, choose light hardwood floors or luxury vinyl planks.  

Bohemian Furniture and Decor

You stand a better chance of achieving Boho with your furniture from finding and using collectibles. These could be an armchair that's been passed down from your great grandparents, bought secondhand from estate sales, or made by artisans. It's also fun to find decorative Boho pieces from artists, at flea markets, or at vintage or thrift shops. Here's how to work out Boho style with furniture and décor.

  • Look for unfinished or carved wood furniture, vintage chairs, streamlined or straight-backed chairs, factory-style barstools, and stools made from unevenly shaped treated tree stumps.

  • For décor, choose low-lying sofas with overstuffed pillows, convex mirrors with woven art frames, handmade artwork hung on walls or placed against the wall on hallways, animal hide rugs, and lanterns and lights featuring Moroccan design.

  • Include a variety of house plants in woven containers or hanging from macramé holders

  • Layer one or more rugs in different styles and patterns for a rich statement.

Bohemian Lighting

Just as you do with everything else when pursuing a Boho look, steer clear of the standard lighting choices. For example, Boho enthusiasts have been known to use woven materials, rope, fringe, beads, rustic metals, and even ceramics for accentuating their lighting. Here are some Boho lighting ideas to help you complete the bohemian look.

  • Should you choose hanging fixtures, choose eclectic styles that include something extra. Pretty beaded accents, handmade colored glass shades, or geometric metals add interest to bohemian style lighting.

  •  Choose a mix and match style where you go for different shapes and materials, for example, some lanterns made from wood and others made of glass.

  • Similarly, you can include accent candle holders into your space for more ambient lighting, and mix the styles of the holders using wood, ceramic and glass or metal hurricanes.  

Need Help Picking Out Fixtures?

At Urban Ambiance, we are here to help you. Whether you want something minimal, or you'd like to replicate the vintage style of your grandparents, we have many light options to help. Contact us to learn more about this and other styles.