Bohemian décor has been trending for more than a decade, and shows no signs of letting up. Scroll through social media hashtags such as #bohodecor, #showme-yourboho, and #bohoismyjam (which together total more than a million results on Instagram), and you’ll find bohemian spaces across the globe.
The purest expression of bohemian decor — exuberant color, global-inspired patterns, handmade textiles, baskets and pottery, and a profusion of plants — is in line with its roots. The term “bohemian,’’ after all, came to describe artistic types, often on the fringes of society. Think Picasso, Matisse, and Modigliani in turn-of-the-last-century Paris. Skip ahead a half-century or so to Jack Kerouac and his fellow beatniks, then to the “Summer of Love’’ 10 years later. Artistic, unconventional, and free-spirited are all fair descriptors.
Justina Blakeney, creator of the blog-turned-lifestyle brand Jungalow, epitomizes bohemian style. A bohemian interior “reflects your personality,’’ Blakeney said. “Happiness and freedom are at the forefront, and the convergence of cultures is important.’’
Stephanie Rudloe of Marrakech Designs in Boston and Imports from Marrakesh in New York worked with a client who redesigned her Cambridge kitchen based on the one in Blakeney’s Los Angeles home, down to the emerald green Moroccan clay tile backsplash. The homeowner, attracted to the tile’s earthiness, felt it brought a lot of warmth to a space that’s otherwise filled with modern elements. Rudloe, who also imports Moroccan rugs, comes by the aesthetic naturally. “My grandmother was a bohemian who had a yurt colony in Maine,’’ she said.
While bohemian interiors tend to boast very specific ingredients — Beni Ourain rugs, rattan hanging chairs, mud cloth pillows, macramé wall hangings, and plants with patterned leaves — they’re also intensely personal. “It’s more than a list of current trends,’’ said Kay McGowan, proprietor of the Somerville shop A Curated World. “Bohemian style tells the story of where you came from and where you’ve been.’’
Courtney Webster, project manager at the Boston design firm Twelve Chairs, who decorated her own loft in a style she calls “contemporary bohemian,’’ notes that boho decor is inclusive and adaptable, easily absorbing pieces from various periods. “I inherited a lot of things when my grandmother passed away, and it all worked in my space,’’ Webster said. “The best part of boho is that it evolves with you.’’
And the look has evolved. Over the past few years, bohemian interiors have pared down palettes. White walls are blank canvases for clean-lined furnishings and handmade accessories in earth tones. Current bohemian interiors, especially in New England, are a fusion of Nordic meets Native American, with an influx of leafy green. Annabel Joy, cofounder of the Swampscott firm Trim Design Co., said, “We’re leaning into the color scheme of New England.’’
We talked to a handful of New England design enthusiasts and professionals about how they interpret bohemian style at home.
Organic modern bohemian/Annabel Joy
Interior designer | Instagram: @interiorjoy
“I love a laid-back, eclectic feel, but live in a historic home, so my aesthetic is California modern meets traditional. I start with warm white walls, then add natural earth tones and texture. Nine out of 10 times, the perfect window treatment is an inexpensive woven bamboo shade. Linen and jute baskets feel bohemian without being ‘hippie dippy.’ Bringing in what we see outdoors — in New England that’s a lot of greenery — is important. Macramé hangings have become ubiquitous, as have Moroccan wedding blankets, but the ones in my guest room are special to me. My philosophy is, if you love something, you can make it work.’’
Loft life bohemian, Kara Evans
Hairstylist | Instagram: @kara_evans
“I used to have an antique-y, French Country style since I got by with hand-me downs. I transitioned into boho when I could afford to have fun with my apartment. I have a no-rules approach; I buy things I love without regard to what goes with what. Lately, I aspire to a more minimal look. I put things away, but they creep back in. I get my color from artwork. I don’t like living with the explosion of colors in a true bohemian decor.”
High desert bohemian / Mel Murray
Orthopedic massage therapist | Instagram: @melbananas
“I’ve always been a collector; it’s a bit Marjorie Merriweather Post. I grew up surrounded by Native American and Mexican culture, as well as Hawaiian influences. I integrate them, along with my Scandinavian heritage. I like the lines of mid-century modern furniture. I have a lot of brass animals, folk-style textiles [Romanian, Polish, Norwegian], Mexican pottery, and a jungle’s worth of plants, which satisfy my nurturing nature. My obsession for peacock chairs started from watching ‘The Addams Family.’’ I found one for $70 in Minnesota before moving here.”
East Coast boho maximalist / Noelani Zervas
Interior stylist | Instagram: @noelani_zervas
“Justina Blakeney is my archetype. I’m drawn to layers of colorful rugs, pillows, plants — a happy clutter. My grandfather owned a flea market and was a bit of a hoarder. Some of my coolest things, including a brass Chinese dragon, are from him. I have a real mix: a vintage peacock chair I found in Worcester, Art Nouveau-patterned wallpaper by a designer in Brooklyn, rattan furniture from Craigslist, and a ton of plants. I change things around a lot; to constantly reimagine is so important.’’
Modern bohemian / Shannon Tate
Interior designer | Instagram: @shannontateinteriors
“I don’t think I’m 100 percent bohemian in style; I’m at about 50 percent. I prefer a blank canvas with white walls. I use accessories, especially rugs, to express my bohemian side. I grew up in a modern home filled with Native American art and textiles. My parents brought us on cross country road trips with regular stops at reservations, and we did daytrips to pow wows. That really influenced my appreciation for ancient traditions and techniques. Incorporating global and handmade elements, even if it’s a cup your kid made in pottery class, keeps a room from feeling too modern or cold and contributes to a bohemian interior where everything feels collected and special.’’
New Victorian bohemian / Steven Santosuosso
Interior designer | Instagram: @squarehousestudios
“Bohemian means drawing from many styles. That describes what’s going on in my place, which has a Middle Eastern bent, a Parisian flea market feel, and a New Victorian kind of look. Nothing is mid-century modern. Everything was picked up through the daily course of life. The bed is a family heirloom, the floral sofa with the carved wooden frame cost $220 on Craigslist, and the art above the bed — it’s what I’d save in a fire — is an unsigned piece from the Cambridge Antique Market. I also have a hanging incense lamp purchased from Café Algiers when they went out of business. Each piece tells a story and is more important than the finished product.’’
Sophisticated bohemian / Sybil Urmston
Interior designer | Instagram: @sirtankdesign
“If you met my family, you’d say, ‘I get the boho thing,’ because we sort of look like hippies. But I’m a firm believer in keeping it sophisticated. I start with a light background and retain the home’s period-specific architectural details. We put a swing in every house. The one in our sitting room is an old Indian rope swing from Sears.com. The rug is an old Persian from my husband’s childhood home that Landry & Arcari patched with pieces of vintage rugs. I love how worn it is. Warmth is the key ingredient of a bohemian interior. Bulbs should not exceed 2700 Kelvins. If you peer through our window at night, it looks like we lit a campfire inside.’’
PLANTS On Pinterest, searches for “patterned plants’’ saw an increase of 533 percent in 2017.
MUD CLOTH From July to September, searches related to “mud cloth’’ on Etsy have increased 9 percent compared with the same period last year. Noted Anna Brockway, cofounder and president of online vintage marketplace Chairish, “We’re seeing mud cloth and shibori being used for reupholstery, mainly on benches and small stools.’’
MACRAMÉ While many designers profess to tiring of the look, Etsy users have searched “macramé’’ more than 2 million times this year, an 11 percent increase over last year. The site has more than 15,000 listings for macramé wall hangings.