Minimalist home décor might be popular, but there are still some who refuse to trade in colors, textures, and patterns for sleek, monochrome designs. For those with a flair for the creative, unexpected, and lived-in looks, bohemian décor is the way to go. It's colorful, fresh, bursting with life, and just as interesting as it was when it first came about in early 19th-century France. Then, the style was about breaking free from bourgeois expectations and finding new forms of beauty.
Meet the Expert
"I think that today, bohemian interiors are mostly defined by this creative lifestyle," says Justina Blakeney. "My own brand of bohemianism has evolved to include an abundance of plant life and at the heart of it, an expression of the creative inner life of the home's inhabitants," she explains.
If this lifestyle interests you, there are a myriad of ways to incorporate the bohemian look into your home. Start small with a few hanging plants and chic flea market finds or take a bolder step and commit to larger-scale rattan furniture and textile art. The best part about bohemian décor? According to Blakeney, there aren't any rules, although she still has some tips to help you sprinkle the style in your home. Take a look at these gorgeous bohemian living rooms and inspire your inner vagabond.
"I'm a big fan of natural materials in the home," says Blakeney, "and rattan is certainly having a moment." Rattan is the perfect natural material to incorporate in a bohemian living room. The eco-friendly vine is both lightweight and strong, making it ideal for a number of décor uses. Blakeney also points out that it's a great neutral base to layer with other colors and textures.
Feature Collected Items
Bohemianism is all about bringing found objects into the home. Blakeney suggests incorporating old items and collected pieces from around the world to give a space an authentic bohemian vibe. When thinking about found pieces, you'll also want to look for contrasting colors and textures, she says.
Embrace New Trends
While bohemianism is no new concept, it's still affected by passing trends. Right now, Blakeney thinks it's all about chunky macramé pieces and overflowing amounts of botanicals. "I'm starting to see the macramé trend take a turn for the chunky, and I love it," she says. "I also am noticing that people are getting very creative and maximal when it comes to the sheer number of plants and plant placement in the home—things are getting very wild," she notes.
Incorporate the Old With the New
Along with collected items, you can incorporate pieces both new and old to get the boho look. Blakeney herself is a fan of reupholstering, which can breathe new life into an older object. "I like to have fun with reupholstering old sofas in bold botanical prints," she says. You can also try your hand at thrift shopping to find unique home décor items to go with newer furnishings.
Bring the Outside In
Bring beautiful green plants inside for a true bohemian feel. Think long romantic vines or more modern palms that can be displayed in a variety of vases. According to Blakeney, plants should be placed where they'll be the happiest, which is usually by the windows. "Hang them from the ceilings, have them cascade off of high shelves, or include one large tree indoors for a real statement," she says.
Another way to bring the outside into your home is with pieces that can easily transition from patio to living room (and vice versa). Blakeney's own collection of Inside Out Performance Fabrics are one way to get this look, but you can also strategically shop outdoor décor collections to snag décor details that function indoors and out.
"I think that one unique aspect of bohemian décor is that any surface can easily become a piece of art," Blakeney explains. Think uncycled objects, handpainted furniture, textile wall art, and even a statement-making gallery wall. "It's all about being creative and experimenting, having fun, and feeling free to try out the new and the unexpected," she declares.
Learn the Difference Between Clutter and Display
One common misconception about bohemian décor is that it can't be well organized. While boho spaces tend to be filled with objects, art, and textiles, they can still be entirely functional. "I don't love clutter," Blakeney admits, "I just love looking at art and books and mementos, and color makes me happy—but I also need order and function in my home or I go crazy!" Display your items with pride, but be wary of things getting out of hand.
Pick Paint to Match the Mood
According to Blakeney, there are countless factors to consider when selecting the right shade of paint to adorn a bohemian living room. While it may depend on things like natural light, furnishings, and floors, you can also select paint based on the mood you want to create in a space. Add a pop of color if that fits your needs or stick with something neutral and let your bright décor speak for itself.
Break the "Rules"
"Part of the fun of bohemian interiors is that there are no 'rules' to what fits and what doesn't," Blakeney indicates. She simply picks décor based on what she's drawn to, which tends to be patterned textiles like kantha and suzani quilts, indigo-dyed pieces from Japan and Mali, Moroccan textiles like Handira and Berber kilim, and weaving prints that she can design for herself. Follow her recommendations or seek out whatever speaks to your design tastes.
For one-of-a-kind items that make a bohemian space feel special, Blakeney searches sites like eBay, Etsy, and Chairish. Flea markets and thrift stores are another way to score interesting curiosities that would fit perfectly in a bohemian living room. "I love flea markets," she admits.