Bohemian Style ~ Part 1

A while ago, this article on Apartment Therapy addressed some elements in Bohemian style in the form of furniture. I’ve been thinking about what really makes something “bohemian”, as far as we understand that word today.   That means that this post is not in reference to the current day Czech Republic, which is where you would actually go if you wanted to find the original Kingdom of Bohemia.

According to Urban Dictionary, the term “bohemians” , or artists/poets of 19th century France, were simply called such because the French incorrectly assumed that gypsy people (the correct term for gypsy would be “Romani”) came from the Kingdom of Bohemia. Romani people actually have a very long history going all the way back to India if you care to read more about it.

All convoluted misnomers and ethnographic history aside, the aesthetic does conjure up a romantic notion of a free-spirited yet somewhat impoverished life dedicated to art and wanderlust. So let’s look at some pretty pictures to see the building blocks of our modern concept of bohemian style.  I’ve come up with 6 main elements that seem to come up again and again whenever I spot something that appears decidedly bohemian in style:  Bright Colors, Patterns, Aged or Antique details, Global pieces, Nomadic influences, and an overall Eclectic design.  Naturally lots of these go hand in hand or overlap, but the more I looked at photos I realized that they all come in to play… keep an eye out for how many of these elements you can identify in any given photo.  If you want to see more of anything or the original source, click the photo.


Rich, bright, even jewel-tone colors to be exact. This could mean a focus on one bright color, like this fabulous hot pink India-inspired sunroom:

Or this amazing bright teal bathroom:

Or lots of bright colors squeezed into one space. This living room is dominated by blue and green, but some orange, yellow, and pink come in through the pillows and art.


Boho means finding old things. Starving artists have to scavenge and re-use other people’s castaways. Older, worn furniture has a sense of history, and the patina of tarnished metal, chippy paint, or a threadbare rug adds depth and interest. Distressed paint finishes are very popular these days, as you might have noticed. Paula Mills found this antique fireplace mantel at a thrift store. Check out her entire house tour on Design Sponge, its all very bohemian.

This room also meets the boho qualifications with the old trunk, the oriental rug, the collection of colorful patterned quilts stacked in the old crate and basket, and the old mismatched mirrors on the wall. I’m assuming she doesn’t use the fireplace because it is full of books.

If you’ve ever seen an Anthropologie catalogue, you’ve seen some majorly distressed walls.  Click on the photo to see a small Apartment Therapy roundup of distressed walls and readers’ entertainingly strong opinions about this look.

Its not just about being distressed or chippy.  Antique furniture usually has a lot of intriguing curves and old world appeal.

This room has a subtly distressed wall and an antique sofa in two fun fabrics.


Oh what a world of patterns we live in.  Geometric kilims, swirly suzanis, groovy ikats, fancy damasks, country florals, and an entire world of folk embroidery… human beings like some patterns.  Textiles are an art all their own.  As long as the colors get along, you can actually get away with mixing a lot of patterns all at once.  A true bohemian needs at least one patterned textile in every room of the tent, if not a dozen.

This lush little patio gets a break from all the green with a pink oriental rug and comfy pillows on the chair.

A little collection of quilts from Paula’s house that we saw earlier.

Mexican tapestry covers this headboard.  From this shot, it looks to be a pretty plain Jane bedroom until the fabulous headboard steals the show.

Skewed kilim rugs layered with the Moroccan-style poufs balance out the white walls, bed cover, and curtains.

Floral, floral, and wait… more floral.  I think the navy walls keep it modern (plus the headphones and camera smartly added to the wall) and pulls it away from going down granny chic lane.

Had your boho fill?  Good, me neither.  I’ll be back with more bohemian goodness later this week.


Dip Dye Pillow

I saw this pillow and thought, how pretty.  Wait, don’t I have some teal dye that I’ve been meaning to use?  And don’t I already have a white pillowcase that could use a little something?

Here’s the inspiration from CapellaKID, an Etsy store specializing in hand-dyed pillows.

I love the effect of the gradient, deeper blue washing over a lighter fade.  Here is another example from the store:

I used an Ikea pillow with removable pillowcase that I bought a couple years ago – mine was a mix of linen and cotton, but the Ritva cushion cover is similar.

I used Rit liquid dye versus the powdered stuff.  I followed the mixture recommended on the bottle for “sink dyeing”, as I couldn’t do the washing machine method if I only want half of my pillow blue.  It was half a bottle for a gallon of water, so about 8 ounces of liquid dye.  It also recommended adding a cup of salt, so I did that too.  The directions said to stir constantly, but I couldn’t really do that while having the pillowcase half resting in the dye.

Overall, I let the pillowcase sit in the bucket for about 45 minutes.  I pushed it further down into the bucket for a while, then pulled it up to just let the bottom soak to try to get that layered effect.  I didn’t stay very precise with it, but occasionally looked to see how it was layering.   After all that I rinsed it a bit and threw it in the washing machine.

The result:

Side A, gradual fade

Side B, more of that wave shape rather than a soft gradient.  Chris said it looked like a stain.  Thanks.

Here is Side A again, but with the dye on the bottom.  I like it best like this.

It is much more subtle, and definitely doesn’t have the level of saturation that I was hoping for.  I might try diluting the dye with less water than recommended and take it for another dip.  When I dip you dip we dip!

Cheerful Bedrooms

I realized I’ve been pinning a lot of fun bedrooms lately so I thought I’d give you a round-up!  I noticed they all have a few elements in common too…

Being a YHL groupie (if you are reading this, odds are you’re one too) I’m starting off with this bold little gem of a guest bedroom, dominated by a deep peacock teal that stays sunny with lemon yellow, lime green, and some fun patterns.

This outlandishly purple headboard is perfect for a little girl’s room – or anyone who is fabulous, really.  The retro poster makes me think Eloise could live here, and the groovy ceramic mushr0om adds a little old-school fairytale fun.  The tiny flowered prints in the linens make it clear this is a girl’s domain.  Check out more by Jenny Komenda at little green notebook or click the photo above.

Unfortunately this one was a Pinterest find with no linkage… but how crazy is it that all those different multi-colored patterns are all smooshed into one small space… and it totally works.

This one is the simplest in my collection today, but that big bold floral print takes center stage and holds it own.  I do also love the chippy aqua metal bedframe and other pale seafoam in the accessories.

If you are noticing that all of these rely heavily on florals, you might be right.  The abstract pillows keep it from getting too, too floral.

More teal and even more floral prints?!  This one is a bit more boho with what I dare call granny-chic throw pillows and white coverlet, where you can see even more floral patterns if you look closely.  I found this via but couldn’t track it down to it’s original post on apartment therapy.

This is another Jenny Komenda design for Joanna’s bedroom.  You can read all about the makeover on either/both of their blogs.  Its got a lot of fun stuff going on for a small room, and plenty of DIY projects.  Of course I really love that floral print pillow.

With all these fun bright patterns, at least one quilt should be here, right?  Cassandra Ellis makes these fabulous quilts.  You can see more on her website or check out her house tour on Design*Sponge by clicking the photo above.

To end our photos on a slightly more subdued note, this black and blue ikat print headboard is just great paired with more delicate blue and red floral prints in the linens.

So, in conclusion, why do all of these work?  Balance – crazy patterns will be balanced out with calm white walls.  Or in the case of a bright wall, the bed cover will be a plain white so that the eye, and you, have a place to rest.  (Get it, because its a bed?).  Even a lot of multi-colored patterns can be happy together,  if their color families seem to jive, which is admittedly more subjective and detailed than we can see here.  It just goes to show that taking a risk with some color and patterns can have some very fun results.  And florals seem to make me happy.

Pinterest craft ~ glue painting

My DLF Christie decided we should do a Pinterest craft. You might have seen the pin floating around:

After doing some research (due to pins with no information, hello pet peeve) I tracked this artsy-craft to this blog Virginia & Charlie.  Some commenters mentioned that Elmer’s glue didn’t work, this tutorial linked above used puff paint.  We did use Elmer’s glue, not knowing any better.  In retrospect I did have some globby lines and a different glue would have been easier to control.  Christie and I sketched on canvas and then traced our designs over the sketches.  Don’t mind my blue canvas with white lines, this was a pre-used canvas.  You can definitely see the globs when I did these loops… the glue ran and filled in.


Here is Christie’s less globby design:

My mostly completed glue design – before I painted white over it.

And the finished product:

Its not quite perfect due to the globs, I guess I could have wiped it off when it was still wet, but at the time I didn’t have that much foresight.  And where the glue had an air bubble it left a little hole that was impossible to cover with just paint.  Overall I feel moderately happy with my pea-chicken.  I think he would make a good embroidered throw pillow.  Maybe I should learn to embroider.  I did make a pillow in 6th grade at a homeschool convention, and I definitely enjoyed embroidery.  (yes, the one year of my entire life when I was not in public school).