We all remember the wild days of our youth and early adulthood – when we got our first taste of designing a space uniquely ours.
Our teenage bedroom, which we sprinkled with magazine clippings, bits and bobs from our favorite musical artists, and the latest in-fashion electronics. Our first apartment, designed with anything (and everything) we could get our hands on: posters, bean bag chairs, door beads and second-hand furniture we found on the side of the road. Our college dorm room, which was a mish-mash of artistic inspiration, chaotic expression and one sad plant we always forgot to water!
We’ve come a long way since then. As our tastes mature, we become more measured in our approach to home décor – not quite so messy or haphazard. Still, it can be fun (and even liberating) to remain connected with that youthful energy.
That’s where “boho style” comes into play. This artistic décor style allows homeowners to capture the energy and vivacity of youth without succumbing to messiness or incoherence.
What is boho style? Why give it a try? And what are some amazing boho living room décor ideas you can try? In this installment of Fresh Home Guide’s décor series, we’re tackling everything boho!
What Is “Boho Style” or “Boho Décor”?
Before we explore the modern meaning of the word “boho,” let’s take a quick detour through history.
“Boho” is an abbreviated form of the term “Bohemian,” which originally referred to someone from the Czechoslovakian region of Bohemia in Central Europe. Around the mid-1800s, the Bohemia region gained notoriety in Europe as a central hub for artists, alternative thinkers and free spirits. Parisian intellectuals and artists, for instance, drew inspiration from the burgeoning artistic scene in Bohemia, incorporating its fashion and style. In short: everyone in Europe wanted to act “Bohemian.”
Fast-forward to the modern day, and we’ve shortened the word to “boho.” But it means the same thing, more or less. Boho still refers to an unbridled artistic and free-thinking spirit.
In common décor parlance, it refers to a style characterized by splashy art, rustic natural elements and a mixture of vintage and contemporary inspiration. (Below, we’ll discuss these common attributes in more detail).
Why Go Boho?
To be clear: Embracing a bohemian style doesn’t mean you have to be messy. You still need to know how to clean discoloured vinyl flooring, wash your walls, and pick the perfect vacuum for your carpet. You aren’t fully reverting to those wild college days!
But if you’re tired of how ordered, neat and “stuffy” everything in your home seems, you’re a good candidate for the boho style.
Incorporating boho chic living room ideas allows you to put your own creative spin on home décor. It allows you to relive your days of youthful abandonment a little bit. And it can be a fantastic way to have a little fun with your next home décor project, as you cruise the aisles of vintage shops and consider alternative art choices for your walls.
Boho Living Room Ideas – How to Incorporate Modern Boho Décor
Before we explore concrete ideas for décor, let’s talk a little more about what boho is.
Boho is all about channeling your inner artist. Boho living room decor ideas are the opposite of the clean lines, product-catalogue tidiness and detail-oriented perfectionism you might find in a home décor magazine.
And at its core, the Boho style is all about juxtaposition – the mixture of two conventionally contrasting elements. They are:
- Nature and Art: Boho styles strike a delicate balance between person-made artwork and natural, organic textures and materials.
- Old and New: Boho living room ideas draw inspiration from the past and present, incorporating vintage elements with modern chic design flairs to create a harmonious mixture of old and new.
- Playful and Serious: The Boho style often marries playful artistic flourishes with stately, dignified furniture, creating an interesting sense of friction.
As you can see, we want to create a space where opposites attract. Toss out the “rule book” and join us as we explore a few ideas for crafting the perfect boho-inspired living room.
Take a Cue from the Natural World
As mentioned, boho living room décor should be an interplay between natural and manufactured elements. For your natural elements, consider the following:
- Plants: The more dramatic, the better! Stretching snake plants, opulent monsteras and bushy areca palms are fantastic choices for boho-friendly houseplants.
- Rattan: Rattan is a trendy type of vine material used in wicker weaving. Furniture made from rattan often has a light, breezy look that signals a sense of easy-going free-spiritedness.
- Natural Textiles: Load your living room with wool blankets, shaggy sheepskin pillows, silk scarves, rustic burlap and weaved cotton. Bonus points for a mixture of different textures and shapes.
- Wood: Wood elements imbue a living room with an immediate sense of rustic charm. Mid-century teak, trendy live-edge and light pine are all terrific wood choices for your modern boho décor.
Be sure to read our articles on how to clean wood and textiles to keep everything looking fresh! And, if you’re working your way down a cleaning rabbit hole, stop by our new article on how to clean your kitchen tiles and grout too – it’s full of ingenious tips!
Designate a Statement Wall with a Wall Accent and Wall Art
Now that you’ve addressed your living room’s natural elements, you can turn your attention to artwork. And nothing screams “bohemian” quite like a statement wall, or “feature wall.” A statement wall should be the natural center of attention in a living, a focal sightline filled with interesting features and personalized design choices. Here are a few ideas for your boho statement wall:
- A Gallery Wall: Create a gallery wall by filling your wall space with offset paintings, framed posters and other artwork. Together, the art pieces should create a flowing geometrical composition – almost like a Piet Mondrian painting!
- Wallpaper: Instead of hanging art, you may choose to make a statement with brightly coloured or patterned wallpaper.
- Hanging Tapestry: A hanging tapestry is an inventive way to marry your natural and artistic elements. These woven tapestries can be the focal point of a statement wall, or used in combination with other artworks.
- Living Wall: Who says plants can’t be artistic? Have fun with your foliage by creating a living wall from small succulents, weeping ivy and even fresh herbs you can use in the kitchen! It can get a little dirty (you need dirt, after all), so read through our article on washing your walls with flat paint.
Home décor experts recommend choosing the room’s natural focal point as your statement wall. Don’t just randomly choose a wall to highlight.
Hit the Thrift Store: Incorporating Mid-Century Modern and Vintage Items
Here’s the fun part – where you get to go shopping. Instead of perusing the aisles of a big box store (like IKEA or Target), take your money to a vintage store or thrift store, where you will find one-of-a-kind items that run the gamut from kitschy to classy. Alternatively, if you prefer your home décor goods delivered, you can find vintage-inspired items online. Look for:
- Mid-Century Modern: MCM furniture is incredibly hot right now. Look for playful furniture pieces with sloping lines and retro design flourishes. If true mid-century modern pieces are outside your budget, shop for MCM reissues, which are often much less expensive.
- Mismatched Vessels and Vases: Hit the thrift store for one-of-a-kind vessels and vases. Don’t be afraid to mix-and-match styles, sizes, eras and colors. Remember, boho living room décor is all about embracing opposites!
- Vintage Apple Crates: We love vintage apple crates because of their rustic charm and functional versatility. Flip them on their ends to make side tables, stack them to make bookshelves, or use them for storage.
- An Artistic Floor Lamp and Lampshades: Floor lamps really complete the look of a living room. When shopping for boho-inspired floor lamps, look for anything out-of-the-ordinary, like artistically embellished stands or retro shades.
Make a day of it! Drive to a few different thrift and vintage stores, taking your time to consider which pieces reflect your personal tastes and sensibilities.
Strike a Balance of Home Décor Textures and Forms
Boho style should be a celebration of different textures and forms. You shouldn’t pile too many hard elements into a living room, nor should you make everything soft and upholstered. Try to strike a balance. Here are a few ideas to consider:
- Plush Poufs: Plush poufs are a classic boho chic item. They’re whimsical, comfortable, and call to mind the free-spirited 1960s. Look for vintage poufs at a second-hand store, or buy them new online.
- Live Edge Furniture: Live edge is a furniture design style in which the craftsperson leaves the wood’s natural edge intact. This design style evokes the wildness of the natural world, making it a perfect addition to any boho living room.
- Shelving: Industrial iron pipe shelves and angular reclaimed wood are wonderful if you want to add hard, sharp elements to your living room. For a softer touch, opt for macrame wall hanging shelves, which have a chic “hippy” vibe.
As with all these tips, the choices are ultimately yours. Remember, boho style should be a personal expression first and foremost. Choose what makes you happy!
Finally, here are a few frequently asked questions about designing a boho-style living room.
Modern Boho Living Room Ideas Vs. Rustic Boho Living Room Ideas – What’s the Difference?
Unlike other design styles, boho design doesn’t have any hard and fast rules. That said, if you want a more rustic bent, prioritize neutral colors and natural elements like live edge wood and wool. If you want a more modern feel, prioritize mid-century modern furniture pieces and colorful artwork.
Can You Design a Bohemian Living room on a Budget?
Absolutely! If you have time and a good curatorial eye, you can find everything you need for a boho style living room at your local second-hand store!
Where Can I Find Vintage or Modern Boho Living Room Furniture?
You have plenty of options. Shop online, go to an auction house, visit a vintage furniture retailer, or keep your eyes glued to online marketplaces like Craigslist, Etsy and Facebook Marketplace.
Do I Need to Follow Colorful Boho Living Room Ideas, or Can I Keep It Minimal?
Again, we stress that boho style should be an expression of your personal design freedoms. If you want to go minimalist, go minimal. Just make sure to maintain a sense of playfulness throughout the process, otherwise you risk making your décor gloomy and august (which isn’t very boho!).
We hope you’ve enjoyed our exploration of all things boho! Check back here for more design tips, décor inspiration and product recommendations. Until then, good luck designing the living room of your dreams!