Boho design, unlike a lot of other designs and styles, is free from rules. It’s OK to create your own version of Boho.

Story by Meredith Coopman
Short for Bohemian, Boho describes a socially unconventional person, especially one who is involved in the arts, according to one dictionary definition. The Bohemian style originally started with travelers and wanderers. They were artsy, carefree and lived eccentric lives that led to the blending of many different cultures. In interior design today, we have embraced the free-spirited cultural mix of décor and philosophies. It’s an eclectic style. It’s a sense of travel and adventure. It’s a collection of diverse influences and experiences, rich in colors and textures from all over the world.

Boho design, unlike a lot of other designs and styles, is free from rules. It allows you to treat your space as a blank canvas only to fill it up with an assortment of colors, textures, and patterns. The style is purely unconventional, indiscriminate and even random. It’s the opposite of minimal, modern and sleek, guided by a philosophy of “more is more.” Fill your space with as much personality as possible. Lean toward variety and choose objects that you love. The goal is to establish a cozy space full of life’s journeys.

Several distinct attributes of the Bohemian style are easy to add to any interior. Among the most evident are:

Boho Handmade and Natural Because Bohemian design is inspired by artists and emphasizes individuality, handmade items are a perfect component. Handmade pieces are special because they are one of a kind. In addition to the handmade, a Boho space often features plenty of natural elements found in fabrics, rugs and tapestries.

Boho Botanicals Speaking of natural elements, filling a room with plants fits perfectly with the Bohemian approach. They are good for the air, the spirit and the mind. Plants are also an affordable and easy way to create a cozy atmosphere, introduce a pop of color (and nature) and add dimension to a room. Hanging plants, in particular, are common with Bohemian, especially if you get creative with planters.

Boho Colors Saturated, rich, vivid, warm earthy colors, as well as metallics and jewel tones, are prevalent in Bohemian styles. Boho interiors are full of color and pattern. There are no rules to mixing hues. Bold combinations and striking patterns are encouraged, as are intermingled patterns and textures. The more variety the better.

Boho Furniture Bohemian furniture is typically not bought in a store. Rooms tend to be filled with furniture collected over time and largely consisting of hand-me-downs, second-hand and vintage items. Each piece of furniture should be unique and tell a story. The space needs to feel comfortable and relaxed and casual, like you want to stay a while.

Boho Lighting As with any style, lighting really defines a design. Boho lighting is typically soft and understated to create a friendly, relaxing ambiance. Overhead fixtures, if used at all, are dimmed, and warm ambient lighting is achieved with candles, lanterns, and floor and table lamps. It’s another opportunity to mix and match.

Boho Accessories Boho spaces are always eclectic, and no two rooms are ever entirely identical, just like people. As we’ve discussed, mixing styles, patterns and textures is critical to achieving the Bohemian feel. Ultimately the individual makes the space: Bohemian can be chic, glamorous, modern or vintage. Be creative with your furniture and go bold with any pattern or fixture you love. Don’t forget to add family photos or favorite vacation spots. Shop those markets and find unique treasures you cherish. As with any design style, make the space your own and fill it with what you love. Those are the only rules.

An interior that incorporates the Boho vibe should appear full, but not busy and chaotic. It should feel confident and happy, full of life and stories. It’s OK to create your own version of Boho. I personally couldn’t pack every nook and cranny full of treasures because I like to let my things breathe and can’t stand clutter. I do, however, like to mix modern and eclectic styles and love bringing home pieces from my travels to remind me of the places I’ve been and the memories I’ve made. I make my own Boho.

Meredith Coopman has over 20 years of experience in architecture and interior design. She is currently the Design Director at InnSpace in Kalispell. You can reach her at meredith.coopman@inn-space.com.