When you hear the word "boho," if your mind immediately jumps to the perfectly undone (yet totally done) rooms inside an Anthropologie catalog, you wouldn't be wrong. But you also wouldn't have the whole picture. Bohemian design is something that everyone thinks they know like the back of their hand, and while you're probably right about what, exactly, it looks like, there's a lot about the design's backstory that most people aren't so familiar with.
Bohemian Design Started Out On The Fringe.
You can walk into just about any home store these days and find elements of or an entire section devoted to bohemian-style decor. It's become pretty mainstream and super easy to execute, meaning, the design style pops up everywhere from your favorite cafe to your favorite clothing store. Hell, even your 7-year-old niece probably has boho style nailed at this point. But it definitely did not start as something so conventional.
Bohemian design is generally inspired by those who lead a free-spirited, norm-defying life, like travelers, writers, artists, etc. "What we now understand as 'bohemianism' from a design perspective emerged from early nineteenth century France, when artists moved into the lower-rent Romani (gypsy) areas of Paris, in order to seek alternatives to bourgeois expectations. This convergence of cultures gave rise to a kind of vagabond lifestyle, where the pursuit of wealth was abandoned in the search for a creative life and alternative ideals of beauty," says designer .
Bohemian design today is about incorporating many different things from different philosophies, parts of the world, and ways of life. The result is an eclectic style that's as diverse as the people who inspire it.
"It's a free-spirited aesthetic rooted in cultural mixing and an artistic sensibility," Blakeney says.
See more at .
You Need To Think Outside The Floor Plan.
Throw your design rulebook out the window. If you're following a formula to achieve bohemian design, you're probably not succeeding. —it's random, eclectic, and devoid of structure and order. That often results in a room that's bright, colorful, and patterned, but those aren't tenants you must follow in order to achieve a boho aesthetic. Make sense?
What You Know Is True: Bold Color & Pattern Dominate.
But with that being said, you'll be hard-pressed to find a bohemian room that doesn't incorporate bold color and pattern. The palette leans heavily on : think browns and greens, jewel tones, and metallics. Pattern is also key, as many bohemian textiles come from exotic places around the world, like Persian rugs and .
But bohemian design isn't just about incorporating these elements—it's about not being afraid to mix and layer them. Colors and patterns don't necessarily have to "go" together; what makes it unique is how they are combined and unconventional ways they are used, such as hanging a rug in addition to using one on the floor.
"A colorful cloth can instantly transform a sofa, table, or chair. It can be a beautiful wall tapestry, and can inform the colors and textures to add more personality to the home," Blakeney says.
Textiles Are Slightly Worn.
Don't get me wrong, you don't want to intentionally damage your fabrics or buy something that's battered and dirty, but on the whole, . Fringe, crochet, macramé, burlap—you want to mix these lived-in, cozier fabrics with the higher end silks and chenille.
Bohemian Furniture Is Usually Vintage.
While you can find bohemian-style furniture just about anywhere, true bohemian furniture isn't usually found on an online ecommerce site. Pieces are collected over time and , secondhand, or bought from local artisans. The best place to go to if you're furniture shopping for a bohemian home is a vintage shop. Chairs and couches tend to be plush and comfortable, inviting a sit back and lounge around kind of vibe. You'll also find chaises, daybeds, or hanging chairs.
See more at .
A facet of bohemian design is the . These vintage, second-hand pieces can be placed next to something totally modern. A sleek table could hold a lamp with a beaded shade, or a clean-lined chair could have a fringed, patterned throw draped over it. The idea is that not everything needs to go perfectly together, but rather, should follow a laissez-faire approach.
More Is More.
You know that obsessive restraint you exercise in minimalism? Not so when it comes to anything bohemian. to help create a room that's saturated in color and pattern, feels cozy and inviting, and contains plenty of items that have some sort of value to you and tell a story. Art, books, sculptures, pillows, lamps—anything is fair game. "What I love about boho design is that anything can work—there is no 'should,'" Blakeney says.
Bohemian Design Embraces The Natural & Handmade.
Because bohemian design is inspired by artists and it emphasizes the unique, you'll usually find in a boho space. These could be textiles, sculptures, or paintings, each helping to foster individuality.
In addition to the handmade, you'll also find plenty of . This comes in the form of fabrics, like burlap and sisal, as well as plants. Filling a room with potted plants, hanging plants, succulents, and ferns help bring the outdoors in and creates a calming aesthetic in your space. "Adding plants is also an instantaneous way to make a home feel more relaxed, colorful, and full of life," Blakeney says. "It looks good, it's good for the spirit, and it's good for the planet."
Follow CQ on .