There is a romantic and nostalgic free spirit vibe to Bohemian interior design styling. That air within Bohemian interiors (often referred to as Boho) brings me back to my younger days of the 1970s when the gypsy bohemian styling made a huge comeback—life was immersed in singer-songwriter, southern California rock music and the artist way. It was a laidback, unconventional style then, and it is still that vibe today!
Bohemianism is rooted in early 19th century Paris low rent neighborhoods consisting of impoverished artists, writers, journalists, musicians, and actors. However, many Bohemians were generally disillusioned young men from the bourgeois rejecting the aristocracy.
Bohême is the French name for the nomadic, vibrant Romani or Roma (mistakenly called Gypsies) who the French believed were from Bohemia but were a Eurasian ethnic group, originating on the Indian subcontinent. They traveled from their home as traders and left for Roman Egypt, eventually settling in Europe and now around the globe.
However, renowned French writers Victor Hugo and Honoré de Balzac inspired the Romantic Movement of the 1820s, and Hugo’s “Romantic Army” (think Les Misérables) became the basis for Bohemianism. Since then, there have been many Bohemian movements, from the beats of the 1950s to the hippies of the 1960s—and all were iterations of the original Parisian “vie Boheme.”
The “life Bohemian” exists today as an unconventional lifestyle, and like many nostalgic styles, it has resurfaced as an influence on interior design.
Bohemian interior design was born out of rebellious times, and the latest resurge is no different. People are looking for something unique, nontraditional, bold, and creative – a role in which Bohemian design styling can fill. Bohemian interior designs have joined the resurgence of Mid-Century Modern and Minimalist styles in creating a balance for expression that rocks conventional tradition.
Like the Bohemian lifestyle, the interior design is unconventional, unstructured, and creative.
All these come together to create a carefree artistic vibe with a bold color palette. This design style allows for freedom of expression with no holds barred. Basically, more is more—but with purpose!
The influence of the Bohemian style is evident in many parts of the world. During the early 1900s, Morocco was a French province. The influence Morocco had on the Bohemian French styling and the French impact on Morocco is unmistakable.
The saturated, rich colors in tiles, walls, rugs, layered patterns and the free-flowing artistry of this style speak clearly to the Moroccan influence. For example, check out the layering found at my socially distanced backyard Moroccan dinner party, where Marrakesh influenced the decor and dinner.
When designing this style for your home, start with a neutral creamy white color on the primary walls. The simplicity of this paint color will allow the patterns, textures, and colors in the furnishings and accessories to stand out. Also, it keeps the wall color from competing with the furnishings for visual attention.
If you are itching for a bold, saturated wall, consider doing so in a smaller area like a powder room. That bold color will add an unexpected element to a space that often goes overlooked.
Make sure to include some neutral earth tones, like bronzy browns. It will give the bold colors a place to rest and allow the pieces to breathe.
After that, add plants and natural materials like sisal and macrame as necessary grounding elements to this interior styling; plants will add to the bohemian interior design style’s visual balance.
Use a more neutral color on the main walls, like a warm white. Then layer the bold colors and textures from there. This can include spots of fabric or geometric wallpaper on a small feature wall area.
Think large-scale patterns mixed with small-scale patterns and color blocks. Moreover, add geometric designs with looser, more fluid patterns.
Layer rugs in opposite colors, textures, and patterns. When approaching this, think ochre with aqua blue, orange, and hot pink. Be sure to include a neutral in the mix like bronze or deep grays so that your colors have a place to rest.
Lean into the repurpose and quality that a previously loved item can bring. Adding an antique can bring character and interest into the space.
Display items you have collected from travels and other cultures, intentionally grouping them so they tell a story of your journey.
Add plenty of natural elements like chunky burlaps, sisals, rattans, and macrame wall hangings.
Go green! Consider adding both hanging and potted plants to the space. It will help bring a calming element to the intense color palette and add oxygen to the atmosphere.
Think outside the box with hanging chairs, unstructured and structured seating.
Use a hanging light instead of a lamp. Also find ways to let the natural lighting in the room to help set the mood. Think unconventional lighting placement.
Adding these are essential to this design style; these colors will give your room a sophisticated element and add a longer lifespan to your decor.
Now that you have the fundamentals of creating your own Bohemian space, make sure to avoid these common misconceptions of this design style.
Make sure you are choosing items with meaning and memories as opposed to buying things for the sake of the aesthetic.
Despite the boldness of this design, make sure your colors and patterns are connected in some way to bring the room together.
I think this one goes without explaining, but make sure your design has functionality. Don’t just toss pillows on the floor. Instead, create intentional space for sitting.
Make sure antiques are clean and functional. You want your antiques to add a grounding element steeped in romantic nostalgia and perhaps even serve as a conversation piece in the room.
A Bohemian interior design style is not minimalism, but some spaces may need a paired down version due to functionality. For example, an open shelf concept with your vintage glassware lovingly collected and displayed can project that unstructured concept of Bohemian styling without cluttering up your countertops and work area in the kitchen.
The most important part of this styling is to have some fun with it. Do that by coloring outside the lines and getting creative! It is an excellent opportunity to test your skills in layering patterns and color. It’s not easy, but it’s so rewarding when it all comes together!
If you are incorporating this style with another, Bohemian fuses well with Mid-Century Modern, Scandinavian and Wabi-Sabi Interior styling.
Want to know more about your interior style? If so, take this quiz to find out what resonates with you most!
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