Guide: What is Bohemian Interior Design

How do you define bohemian interior design? Often referred to as boho decor, it is more than just an aesthetic choice - it's a reflection of a lifestyle that values individuality, creativity, and a harmonious blend of diverse influences. Here’s an indispensable guide to bohemian chic decor.

6 December 2023

When it comes to interior design, just what is boho decor? This design philosophy, which became popular among nineteenth century European artists, embodies a carefree, eclectic, and unconventional approach, celebrating the artistic and the unconventional. It’s a style that speaks to those who want a home as unique and unorthodox as their own personal style.

Think mix-and-match styles, think layered textiles from all over the world, think playful colours, textures and decorative objects. Unlike Scandinavian design for example, there are no hard and fast answers to the question ‘what is bohemian interior design’.

Indeed for some, it’s quite the opposite. Boho interior design stands out as a breath of fresh air, encouraging people to live authentically and creatively.

Highly individual, non-conformist, anything goes. This is your guide to bohemian interior design.

The History of Boho Decor

A stylish bedroom with handmade design elements in a boho style. (Credit: Oleg Breslavtsev via Getty Images)

The style’s rise to prominence in the second half of the nineteenth century among Parisian artists, writers, performers and nomads who valued creativity over material wealth, highlights its enduring appeal. It was a response to both the rigid norms of Victorian decor which prioritised symmetry and order, and the traditional values of the bourgeois lifestyle.

From the French bohemiens, meaning an outsider, traveller, or one who resisted conformity, the word has evolved to mean free-spirited, eclectic, unusual, offbeat, leftfield or individualistic – perfect descriptions for boho decor!

The Principles of Bohemian Interior Design

Bohemian living room interior with brown furnitures and beige walls. (Credit: imaginima via Getty Images)

The overarching principles of bohemian chic decor are characterised by an absence of structure, embracing a laissez-faire, do-what-makes-you-happy attitude. This style often features a rich mix of patterns, colours, and textures, creating a space that is vibrant and deeply personal. Key elements include vintage furniture, colourful textiles like throws, wall hangings and rugs, and a blend of different cultural artefacts. The style encourages a mix-and-match approach with an emphasis on organic materials, earthy hues, and global inspiration. Boho decor is inherently dynamic, constantly evolving with the owner’s tastes, travels, and life experiences, making it a deeply personal and ever-changing canvas.

Central to bohemian interior design is the encouragement of individual, carefree, and creative expression. Unlike more rigid design paradigms, boho style has no strict rules. It’s about expressing yourself with things that have personal significance, whether it’s eclectic art, sentimental collectibles, or handcrafted items picked up from flea markets in Peru, Morocco, Tanzania, India, Mexico or Cambodia, or indeed anywhere else your travels have taken you. This style celebrates the unusual, the colourful, and the whimsical, allowing for a space that is as unique as your experiences and perspectives.

Boho interior design embraces the idea of living a life less ordinary, reflected in spaces that are spontaneous, vibrant, and reflective of a life well-travelled and well-lived.

The Bohemian Colour Palette

A bohemian styled living room, complete with leafy greens and terracotta browns. (Credit: Vasyl Cheipesh via Getty Images)

Bohemian style doesn’t conform to a particular colour scheme but it’s generally underlined with earthy tones as base colours that give your eyes a place to rest, such as shades of leafy green, terracotta brown and varieties of vanilla and greys. Then, you can enhance your space with whatever you like, be it jazzy purple, vibrant orange, deep ruby red or jewel-like metallic tones of gold, silver, sapphire, emerald, copper or bronze.

As always it’s all about the balance. Set vivid artwork in a light pine frame, or offset a heavily-patterned rug over the top of a light jute mat for contrast.

Boho Furniture

Cozy hanging chair in the loft living room with stylish and bohemia design. (Credit: AsiaVision via Getty Images)

The furniture in a boho home is devoid of structure. It’s random and eclectic. Vintage, upcycled and repurposed furniture usually takes pride of place but don’t be surprised to see upturned fruit boxes next to an ultra-modern glass and chrome coffee table, a second-hand South American poncho draped over a mid-century Danish armchair, or a vintage anglepoise lamp on a G-Plan sideboard with a decadent Art Deco mirror above!

Lighting & Accessories, Bohemian Style

Exposed halogen lamps, a common feature used in Bohemian interior design. (Credit: Anna Blazhuk via Getty Images)

Bohemian interior design doesn’t lend itself particularly well to harsh white halogen bulbs dotted all over the ceiling. Table lamps, candles and lanterns provide the ambient atmosphere associated with boho decor, but the style can also cope with a fabulous Art Deco chandelier or an assortment of mix-and-match pendant lights.

Accessories come in all shapes and sizes, from fringed wall hangings, family heirlooms, stacks of books, and trinkets from your travels, to a six-foot plush giraffe or chunky gilt-framed mirrors. To enhance the natural look, plants, including ferns and even real or artificial trees, dried grasses in tall vases and dehydrated flowers, feature heavily in the bohemian interior design aesthetic.

Embracing The Bohemian Spirit

A living room, decorated with Bohemian design. (Credit: AsiaVision via Getty Images)

In essence, Bohemian interior design is more than a simple design style – it’s a declaration of personal freedom and creativity. Embracing Boho decor in your living space is about crafting a visual autobiography, where each element tells a fascinating story of your life.

This design philosophy, rooted in historical rebellion against conventional norms, continues to inspire those seeking to infuse their homes with character, colour, and a spirit of unconventional whimsy. Boho interior design stands as a tribute to the beauty of diversity, creativity, and the unbridled joy of living life on your own terms.


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