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.