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What makes a room boho? Our guide to bohemian-style decor

  • Boho interior
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Olivia Lowry
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With a big focus on natural materials, bold patterns and earthy colours, boho decor’s all about personality. It’s a refreshing step away from sleek and minimalist aesthetics and instead favours a more relaxed vibe. 

Bohemian design began in the 19th century, started by free-spirited writers and artists that took inspiration from their travels across the world. From there, boho really took off in the 70s and today, it’s evolved into one of the most popular home decor styles. Thinking about trying it out? Here’s how to get started.

Choosing a colour palette for your boho space

Boho decor takes inspiration from landscapes and travel so naturally, the colour palette is pretty earthy. As an eclectic style, it doesn’t shy away from colour. To choose colours for a boho room use warm-toned neutrals as your base, and then add colour with furniture, art and accessories. Variety is key - make sure to use a diverse mix of tones across the whole colour palette, with an even split of darker and lighter colours.

boho interior colour palette

Layering boho patterns and textures

Patterns and textures play a big part in bohemian-style interiors. In fact, you’d be hard-pressed to find a boho room that doesn’t have these elements. With this style being so firmly rooted in travel, it’s common to see decor pieces from many different countries come together. Bold patterned wool throws, handmade wicker baskets and Berber rugs are great ways to start.

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Patterns don’t have to be colourful and bold - try experimenting with different textures and weaves in neutral soft furnishings that have subtle patterns of their own. Layer neutral-toned blankets, cushions and rugs for a relaxed, coastal feel, and add bolder patterns afterwards.

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Incorporating natural elements

With this style, it’s better to take a more relaxed approach to combining textures and patterns. Don’t be afraid to mix textures - boho design is all about a free-spirited feel and less about matching. To keep it fail-safe, stick to natural textures like wood, wicker, cork and rattan. In soft furnishings and upholstery, choose linen, wool, cotton and boucle when decorating a boho room. 

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One of the easiest ways to bring that same nature-inspired feel into the home is with plants. Plants and boho style go hand-in-hand, so choose what works for you and your confidence with houseplants. If it’s low-maintenance you’re after, opt for golden pothos, snake plants, and cactuses. For bigger plants, choose yuccas, palms and umbrella trees.

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Creating a cosy seating area

Comfort’s high on the list when it comes to boho design, which is why it’s such a popular style for living rooms and bedrooms. The idea is to create a social space that feels and looks inviting. Choose sofas and chairs with deeper seating areas that you can really sit back and relax in. Then, add more depth and interest to the room with layered cushions in a boho colour palette. Mix your cushion sizes by starting with the biggest at the back, and experiment with different fabric types.

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The on-the-road lifestyle associated with boho culture usually means hammocks and floor cushions. In modern homes, you can recreate this kind of comfort by adding footstools and ottomans to put your feet up on. Choose curved shapes and soft-touch fabrics to get that laidback look. 

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Lighting a boho-style space

Boho design does well in interiors that have plenty of natural light already, and maximising this is a great place to start. When it starts to get darker, boho lighting should provide pockets of warm light, rather than illuminating the whole space at once. Inspired by candlelight and lanterns, this softer approach is key to getting bohemian decor right. 

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Include multiple sources of light when creating a boho-style space, and make sure they’re at different heights. In darker corners, try pendants or floor lamps. Boho style doesn’t usually use exposed bulbs, so it’s a good idea to diffuse light with shades. Choose rattan, linen or cotton lampshades to maintain that organic feel.

Showcasing your personal style

At the time boho style started, it was all about artistic expression. Showing off your personal style is really key, and boho as a term is really up to your own interpretation. Macrame, tapestry and other woven wall art is, and always has been a popular choice for decorating these types of spaces. Boho art features geometric prints, organic shapes and lots of texture. When choosing yours, stick to an earthy colour palette. 

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In this laidback style, art isn’t just reserved for walls. Experiment with leaning prints on top of furniture, or introducing a new pattern in an unexpected place. Avoid symmetrical or overly-curated pieces and opt for eclectic gallery walls with mismatched frames instead. 

What is boho style or decor?

Boho style and boho decor is a design look that takes inspiration from lots of different cultures and landscapes. Boho interior style has a big emphasis on artistic expression and gained popularity in the early 19th century.

What colour decor is boho?

Boho decor is characterised by its earthy colours and warm, inviting tones. Some examples of boho colours are red, beige, brown, cream, green, yellow and blue.

What is the difference between boho and modern boho?

Modern boho is a mixture of contemporary style and functional furniture pieces with traditional, travel-inspired decor. Traditional boho is slightly more relaxed, and designed for a nomadic lifestyle.
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