There is something downright cool and enviable about the bohemian lifestyle. Maybe it’s my nomadic heritage, but most of us dream about that whimsical gypsy life, traveling endlessly to far-flung places and colorful cities rich in culture and history.
That’s why boho homes are still on the top of our inspiration list – who doesn’t have a bohemian board on Pinterest?
Think unique and exotic fabrics, perfectly disheveled throws, an abundance of greenery, sentimental keepsakes, relics, knickknacks and handmade collectibles lovingly layered to create a worldly space.
For interior designers, Todd Nickey and Amy Kehoe of Los Angeles-based firm Nickey Kehoe, the bohemian interior style is inviting, collected and worldly. “Nothing usually feels like it was designed for the space, but rather found or chosen because of a meaning or story,” Nickey said.
Amber Lewis of Amber Interiors in Calabasas, Ca., who has perfected this boho-chic style, agrees. “I think the best way to describe the boho interior look is simply a laid-back, casual and collected feeling of a room pulled together mixing pieces that are eclectic and a little worldly.”
Read on for more of their tips on creating the signature boho-chic style at home.
Q: Bohemian rooms are usually fairly layered. How do you achieve this look without overcrowding the room?
Lewis: I think editing is a huge tip. Start with a neutral palette, and add little pops of color. Choose one tone or color to work with and choose complementary colors to add in the rugs, pillows, and knickknacks. When it start to feel “overdone,” take things away. I spend hours playing with color combos and feeling out what I think works.
Nickey: We often start with a neutral palette in the home and let there be a clean canvas of rustic materials that won’t compete too much with the often colorful and textural pieces associated with a bohemian room. The art of editing is key here and having the important pieces of furniture speak for the room rather than an amassment of trinkets in every corner trying to compete with each other. That being said, the bohemian look certainly does have a certain abundance associated with it, but it’s best when they’re organized and situated in the right place.
Q: There is a real mix of color and pattern in bohemian interiors. How do you pull this off so it’s more chic than clash?
Lewis: I love mixing stripes, with paisley, and texture, or batik and tie dye. The best way to do this without it all clashing is pick the boldest pattern and sandwich it in between the more mellow textural pieces and make sure to have a balance of one-third crazy, the rest neutral.
Kehoe: For us, sometimes the clash is what makes the chic! It’s often competing colors and patterns that seem contradictory but are really complementary and that’s what takes a professional eye (and trial and error) to determine.
Q: When it comes to texture with bohemian style, is it anything goes, or are there rules we should stick to?
Lewis: When it comes to texture and boho anything goes as long as it’s not over the top! Velvet works amazingly with linen, rustic wood looks gorgeous with a polished marble, and a batik funky textile looks gorgeous with brass and shiny metals. There is no real rule of thumb here. Mix away!
Nickey: We like to use velvets and corduroys to get a depth and richness on the main pieces with trims and fringes on pillows and blankets for an added visual element and keeping the layers interesting. To keep it effortless, practice restraint and use consistent materials if possible. You don’t want the eye to be always overwhelmed.
Q: There is a real mix of high and low decor. What are some key vintage pieces and eras you look for when putting a boho room together?
Lewis: I love a random midcentury piece mixed with a brand-new piece straight from a big box store to help it look less new and fresh from the showroom floor.
Kehoe: An 18th-century piece like a low rustic coffee table that shows hundreds of years of patina, so it’s not delicate (and) usually helps set the stage for a relaxing yet sophisticated room.
Q: What are some of the go-to materials for a bohemian look?
Lewis: Vintage ceramics, vintage brass, rustic woods, and funky textiles are some of my boho go-tos. I think mixing the elements is crucial in getting the eclectic mix of styles that defines the boho vibe.
Nickey: One element that can get overlooked when designing a room is the use of plants. We love the ficus religiosa (sacred fig) or a philodendron on a table. A potted citrus tree outdoors also helps add a warmth to a space.
Q: Who are your favorite designers and brands that are making some interesting and cool bohemian decor, art and furniture?
Lewis: I have been a long time fan of Commune Design and all that they do. They have an incredible way of mixing styles, plus they have such a diversified business model and are doing all kinds of killer projects.
Kehoe: Mostly we turn to places and cities where color is really a part of the culture. Other than the obvious of Marrakesh or Tangiers, we love the colors of Oaxaca and the temples of Indonesia. The Hacienda de San Antonio in Colima, Mexico, really is a treasured location that comes to mind when thinking of adventures and wandering.
Q: Is there a difference between the California boho look and other styles around the world?
Lewis: I don’t know if it’s a huge difference between Cali boho and other boho, except maybe Cali boho is a little more beachy and inspired by California’s unique climate and gorgeous environments. Californians also have a very distinct lifestyle. We are by nature pretty laid back, and I think that’s reflected in our version of boho.
Nickey: Bohemianism is a state of mind, not just a look; let your creativity, passions, and understanding of the history dictate your space, not the trends.