Bohemian or Boho decorating is for those who want their homes full of life, culture, and interesting items for all the world to see. This aesthetic flies in the face of modern sensibilities and embraces the carefree, relaxed, and the unusual. Boho rooms tend to have certain similarities in that they are always eclectic and share similar features though no two rooms are ever completely alike.
What Is Bohemian Style?
Bohemian or Boho style is a rule-breaking, personal, and unconventional style of decorating a living space.
Boho is inspired by people who choose to lead an unconventional life such as constant travelers, actors, and writers. The Bohemian style mirrors that life by combining objects, colors, and patterns from many areas of the world. If you are looking for a style that you can truly make your own, Boho might be for you.
While there are no rules when it comes to Bohemian decorating, warm earthy colors are common, as are metallics and jewel tones. Think deep browns, greens, and grays for base colors, and then accessorize with saturated purple, fiery orange, and electric blue. Combining and layering colors is what makes this style unique.
Feel free to mix patterns and textures, and don’t be afraid to use styles that would not necessarily go together in a conventional way. Use dyed textiles and patterns from around the world—like Ikat from Cambodia or Suzani from Central Asia—to give the space a sense of fun and exoticism. Layer throws on top of furniture and try hanging tapestries and area rugs on the walls alongside your photos and art. If this all seems a bit much, keep in mind that while saturated color is key to the Bohemian style, white can have a place as a backdrop for richer tones. Use white to strategically bring a little visual space into the equation.
As the opposite of minimal, modern, and sleek, Boho embraces a “more is more” philosophy. The key to using decorative materials in a Boho room is to mix and match. Natural, basic materials like burlap and sisal can be combined with silk and chenille. The materials should have a slightly worn look—not damaged, but not shiny and new either. Fringe, crochet, and macramé abound—pillows, curtains, and throw-rugs combine to make a cozy, globally-inspired hangout. Canopies over beds and living areas are signature Boho embellishments.
Bohemian furniture usually is not found in a store. These rooms tend to be filled with furniture collected over time, so second-hand and vintage items are right at home here. Each piece of furniture should be special and tell a story. Have fun exploring your local vintage shops and choose each piece individually. If you love it, it will fit right in.
Both you and your guests will feel the Boho vibe with plush chairs and couches in saturated colors. Throw rugs or overstuffed floor pillows will create a welcoming floor-seating atmosphere. And since a Boho room should have a “sit and stay awhile” feel, streamlined or straight-backed furniture will not fit in here. Choose comfortable, relaxed pieces like chaises longues, daybeds, or butterfly chairs.
Lighting and Accessories
Ambient, understated lighting will unify your Boho room and complete the calm and welcoming feel. Rather than overhead fixtures, decorate with multiple lanterns, candles, and floor and table lamps. Today’s global design markets make it easy to find a variety of shapes and styles—perfect for the mix-and-match look.
Embracing the natural world is central to this style, so bring your room to life with ferns and hanging plants. Not only do they lend vibrancy to a room, but plants also improve air quality, so the more the merrier. Philodendron and peace lilies are very forgiving and withstand a variety of light and temperature levels. Or consider succulents—widely available in a range of colors and textures—which are great for people with a less-than-green thumb. These eye-catching plants need little more than a sunny spot and occasional watering.
Finally, pull together your Boho room with family heirlooms, handmade items, and objects from your travels. Accessories should be personal, so feature what you love: tapestries, vintage bottles, maps, or mismatched china—you name it. And keep in mind that while Bohemian style tends to be eclectic, it can still be chic and glamorous, so do not be afraid to try out an ornate chandelier or a chunky gold-framed mirror. The only rule is that every item in the room should share something about you.