A Loose Guide: Having and Creating a Bohemian Inspired Home

by Jo

So many people say to me “I love colour, I love the bohemian ‘look’ – but I just can’t do it. I can’t make it work. How do I do it?”

I guess we need to remember a couple of things here…

* A Bohemian style is an eclectic mix of all things we love. Perhaps a little vintage, a little ethnic, a little tribal, some french provincial mixed in with some industrial, stirred with some rustic charm? It’s all the things!

* A bohemian home is not one particular look or feel. It’s a layering and stacking of styles, decors, textures, patterns, colours, pieces and great finds.

* My best advice is to choose things you love.

Choose pieces that resonate for you or with you.

For big ticket items like couches, hutches and sideboards – choose items that appeal to you, that uplift you and make you happy each and every time you see them. Don’t purchase something, simply because you feel you need one. Purchase items because you LOVE them. And your home will always reflect that.

Not surprisingly, when you love each and every thing in your home, it will always ‘work’.

Trawl op-shops, gumtree, buy/swap/sell sites/ebay/garage sales etc – I have a few expensive pieces in my home (only a couple) but almost everything else, are re-loved treasures. I have vintage pieces, French provincial pieces, industrial elements, rustic pieces, one-of-a-kind indian hand painted pieces – all mixed in with my treasures and knick knacks from my travels abroad and my beloved artwork and plants.

* Start with a piece that you love.

Whether it’s a painting, a rug, a couch, or new cushions. Find something you love and use that colour palate as your ‘jump off point’. Try not to keep things uniform or 'matchy matchy' – the whole point to bohemian style is to be eclectic, to approach styling and decorating with a broader vision, than just having things match.

* Trust what you love and let go...

(If you want everything to match – you may as well buy the furniture floor model package from a big box store and be done with it! Yes?)

So you’ll see from my pictures, my rooms kind of evolve naturally and very organically. I am a big believer in ‘grounding’ a space with basic neutrals. In my home, we have bamboo floors and whisper white walls through the entire house. That’s not to say you can’t have feature walls, or wallpaper. You can! But in my home, for now, I choose not to. The beauty of keeping the basic fundamentals neutral, is being able to change the whole look and feel of a room very easily with simply changing up the soft furnishings!

* Woods and white pieces will always help to ‘ground’ a space. Wood in particular lends warmth and weight to a room and is a really beautiful foundation to add some serious colour. In addition, white is very neutral, so white pieces will draw the eye in a room of colourful things. Black will ultimately do the same thing.

I have lots of wood and white pieces to break up the crazy colour. Sometimes all of my kilim cushions come out to play with the plants and the artwork and the rugs and somehow, it all still works? Sometimes because of the little people, we keep things simple and pack away the pretties so the teeny people don’t ruin them and even stripped of the majority of colour – my plants and artwork and rug, bring life and light to every room.

So begin at the beginning, choose your jump off point. A rug, a piece of art, a couch. And then find other things you love. Cushions that make you smile, plants that make your heart sing, artwork, paintings, baskets or bowls that make you happy. And yes, they’re all décor items and yes, you can display every single one of them!

So nothing in my house is matchy/matchy. But it flows harmoniously. Why? Because I love everything here. Because I have nothing in my home that doesn’t serve a purpose or bring me joy.

* And then, you layer.

Layer colours and textures and prints and art and cushions and throws and plants. Layer, stack, add in elements of wood and cane and white pieces to help ground the space. In my home, there is a lot of cane. I have an obsession with it. I have so many baskets it’s seriously utterly ridiculous. But they all have a use, they’re all beautiful and every single one brings me immense joy. Cane is a neutral addition in it’s raw form – it has the hue of wood and will help in giving some warmth and weight to any space. Whether it’s cane furniture, baskets, bowls, footstools – it doesn’t matter, use it! And use it with pride!

Layering and stacking, doesn’t mean you have to have a room that feels cluttered either. Choose pieces carefully. Be brutal when editing your space. If there’s ‘too much stuff’ when you step back to assess, remove a few of the more colourful pieces and re-asses?

* Your eye will tell you when it’s ‘too much’ or when it’s ‘not enough’.

I don’t have a heap of useless décor items cluttering my spaces. My trinkets and treasures are pieces I’ve collected or loved too. And there are some of course, but don’t overwhelm any space with the small stuff. Whether you want a bohemian vibe in your home or not. Let your bigger items speak and draw the eye. Allow your artwork to shine. You have, after all, included it in the room because you love it, so allow others to love it too, rather than be distracted by 5000 miniature bowls, vases or vessels, that are just dust collectors.


* May everything in your space serve a purpose or be items that you love intensely.

If you don’t love it, or it has no purpose, why is it there?

Don’t add stuff or buy stuff, just to have more ‘stuff’.

* Let your home tell the story of who you are. Allow it to be the tale of all who live within the walls, a beautiful ebb and flow of the humans who reside there and love there and live there.

Everything in my home, has a story, a memory, a reason for being. The things that don’t (and yes, they occasionally wander through the door) quickly find themselves elsewhere.

1. Layer

2. Stack

3. Edit

4. Add

5. Edit

6. Love

That’s my advice.

Don’t use solid colour cushions. Layer patterned cushions and colours and textures for a really vibrant bohemian feel.

Don’t think, “Oh I love turquoise”and then go and paint every piece of your furniture turquoise and have turquoise accents and turquoise cushions…..it just won’t work.

* Woods

* Whites

* Textures

* Colours

If you love a certain colour, play with tones, play with pattern. Don’t match items and things. (ie: a turquoise rug and turquoise cushions and turquoise décor items) because even for the lover of turquoise the space will ultimately feel overwhelming. Too much, is too much. You must strike a balance.

I shall repeat it;

* Woods

* Whites

* Textures

* Colours

If you have truly colourful cushions and artwork, perhaps keep your rug neutral? But bring in texture? A jute rug, a sisal rug, a handwoven rug? It can be in a neutral tone, but when you add a piece with texture, it truly takes the room to NEXT LEVEL AMAZE! And then layer those rugs for an indecently INSANE level of AMAZING!

Adding mirrors or glassware is also a really excellent way of ensuring you’re drawing in all the light to that space too!

And so, a bohemian inspired room is truly an evolution. Of all the things you love best.

And trust me when I tell you that even if you love a lot of things, you can indeed make the space work. Stack your books, add your macramé wall hanging, pop beautiful little vintage mirrors on ledges and shelves, add plants (they instantly bring life and light to a room) and know that all colours really do play nice together – but the ones you choose will always come down to what you love best.

* Work to the same or similar colour tones and you cannot go wrong.

So the only question you’re left with, is do you want a vibrant, colourful smacking of bohemia in your home? Or a neutral, rustic bohemia? Or perhaps, somewhere in the middle?

* Find your balance.

* Find what you love.

Mix elements and style and woods and whites and colours and textures and play with it all. Don’t be afraid of it.

You’d be bloody surprised by what actually works when you love everything in a room!

And most of all, remember this;

"Home isn't a place, it's a FEELING"

mi casa su casa

Jo x