What Is Bohemian Interior Design? Plus, Expert Tips & Tricks

Boho Living Room

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Perfectly undone yet expertly styled, bohemian interior design can breathe new life into any space, from farmhouse to modern. It stands out with a bright and colorful blend of multicultural elements, styles, and layers that create a distinct, carefree appeal. And once you've fallen for the look, it's hard to say no to boho decor.

If you flip through home magazines, scroll Instagram, or watch design shows, you know what we're talking about. The boho look is almost always trending, and it's versatile enough to fit in anywhere, no matter your style.

This guide looks at the elements of boho interior design and how to capture the look in your living space, complete with expert advice to help you master the look.

Meet the Experts

We consulted professional interior designers to get the answers to all your bohemian interior design questions and help you create the space of your dreams. You'll find expert ideas and tips from:

What Is Bohemian Interior Design?

"The term bohemian means unconventional and artistic, and that's a great way to define this design style," said Catherine Davin. "It has its origins in 19th century Paris, where artists who rejected the lifestyle of French bourgeois moved to new areas of the city — these new areas were focused on creativity and artistic expression rather than wealth and status. That same idea is still apparent in the style today. It's an eclectic mix of diversity, culture, and art."

Boho, or boho-chic, is one of those interior design styles where anything goes, and you're encouraged to break all the rules. Some designers say that boho style has no rules, only guidelines, making it perfect for the world's wanderers, rebels, and artists.

"The goal is to showcase your most unique taste and sense of style, no rules."

"This eclectic style combines vintage pieces with modern touches for a unique and stylish look," explained Karen Rohr. "Bohemian interior design is the perfect choice for those who want to express their personality in their home. It started as an expression of artists, writers, and performers who rejected societal norms and embraced living life to its fullest. The goal is to showcase your most unique taste and sense of style, no rules."

"This style is about creating a comfortable and eclectic space that reflects a love for patterns, texture, and bright colors," Rohr continued. "The goal is to showcase your most unique taste and sense of style, no rules."

What Are the Elements of Bohemian Design?

Varying Colors and Textures

Boho colors and textures

Bohemian home decor is all about bold colors and patterns, enticing textures, and natural materials. And beyond that, it's about not being afraid to mix and layer them.

"The bohemian color palette is full of earthy tones and natural hues," Karen Rohr told Living Cozy. "Think muted jewel tones, soft pastels, and deep, rich colors inspired by nature. This palette is perfect for creating a cozy and inviting space that feels warm and vibrant."

More is more, so shrug off today's minimalist styles and create a room filled with pops of color and eye-catching prints. And don't forget the cozy textures.

Another trend with bohemian decor is natural materials, which means texture, texture, and more texture. Whether it's layered area rugs, cozy throw blankets, an intricately-carved coffee table, or all of the above and then some, most boho homes are bursting at the seams with texture.

Pro Tip:

"Using vibrant colors and patterned textiles on drapery, rugs, and pillows — layered for ultimate effect," said Edyta Haligowska. "Embellishments like fringe and tassels give an added boho touch."

Mix and Match

"There's a wonderful mix of patterns and textures to create that effortless, casual feel," noted Catherine Davin. "Bohemian style isn't matchy-matchy; it's about the mix of opposites to create something more unexpected and unique. You're not afraid to pair bright patterns in loud prints or a vintage item with a modern silhouette."

Have you ever wondered what makes a boho space feel so adventurous and different from other interior design trends? It's the freedom to mix, match, and embrace what you love. It's okay if your living room is packed full of patterns and colors that break every interior design rule in the book, as long as you love them.

You can even mix and match boho with other decor styles you love. For example, were you choosing between a bohemian living room and a farmhouse design? Try boho farmhouse. Can't get enough of the bright colors in mid-century modern style? Go with mid-century boho.

Plants and Greenery

Bohemian plants
"The bohemian spirit values nature, so adding flowers and house plants will help enrich the boho interior, and also give back in the form of fresh oxygen — something we all need these days." - Edyta Haligowska

Another feature of bohemian interior design is indoor plants. Greenery has become a staple in most boho decor ideas because it's vibrant, natural, and can bring almost any space to life. Plus, plants are easy to decorate with, and they go with everything under the sun.

"In line with this free-spirited, earthy vibe, adding plants as part of the design scheme is a great accent in your space," said Alexandra Davin. "You can also do dried plants, like grasses and dehydrated flowers. This is a nice approach if you're going for a more muted color palette, but you want to incorporate the natural feel of greenery."

Pro Tip:

Don't have a green thumb? Try faux succulents, silk plants, and artificial trees. High-quality options are nearly indistinguishable from the real thing. Alternately, try elements like dried pampas grass in tall vases.

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Textures and Patterns

Boho textures and patterns

Bohemian interior design emphasizes natural materials with eye-catching room decor. Textures and patterns make up the foundation of most boho spaces, and you can add them in various ways.

"From woven rugs to colorful pillows, these textures add depth and interest to any space to bring in a lot of personality to the indoors," said Karen Rohr. "Think about rattan, wicker, natural wood or rich, lots of layers with rugs and pillows."

Other ways to add texture to your room design include:

  • Baskets
  • Macrame wall hangings
  • Layered rugs (try jute rugs under wool rugs)
  • Upholstered furniture and poufs
  • Carved wood furniture
  • Beaded table lamps and lampshades
  • Colorful Moroccan lanterns
  • Stacks of books

Thoughtful Decor

The secret to boho style is being intentional and thoughtful with your decor. You want to display elements that you find inspiring. A bunch of things with a vague boho appeal can look like clutter, but a collection of well-loved accents will tell your story.

"You'll want to display signs of being well-traveled and well-read, like luggage from yesteryear, framed artwork (paintings and photographs), hardbound books (without the jacket!), sculpture or statues, pottery, macrame, quilts, etc.," recommended Edyta Haligowska. "These will add context to all of the color and texture."

"It's an aesthetic that prioritizes furnishings and accessories that are handmade and globally sourced."

"It's an aesthetic that prioritizes furnishings and accessories that are handmade and globally sourced," explained Tiffany Gholar. "It tends to be eclectic and draws from a variety of cultures from around the world."

Display any souvenirs, family heirlooms, or handmade artwork that's meaningful to you. For example, you could hang an authentic Indonesian ikat tapestry behind the sofa or sectional. And if you don't have any unique accents to use right now, why not make something? For example, instead of a tapestry, you could paint a DIY ikat print on a white chaise or pouf!

Ornamentation

Ornamentation refers to details added to make an object more interesting or beautiful, and you'll see a lot of it in boho homes. Anything that adds color, pattern, and texture to your decor counts as ornamentation.

"The bohemian look isn't afraid of ornamentation, but it's done in a soft way. Think tassels or poms on pillows or rugs, decorative chandeliers, and light fixtures. Macrame, fringe, and crochet are all popular in this design style, too," advised Alexandra Davin. "The cool airiness of this style is often expressed through sheer window treatments, like flowy linen curtains. And you'll often find fun woven or rattan pendant lighting in this style."

Pro Tip: You can also add ornamentation with trinkets and treasures displayed throughout your home.

5 Ways to Create the Bohemian Look in Your Home

1. Experiment With Layers

Bohemian design layers

Layers of pillows and blankets help punctuate the relaxed, comforting vibe of bohemian interior design. So layer your decor to create depth with textiles and accents like rugs, throws, and cushions. For a classic and inviting boho look, try layering similar patterns in different colors or reverse it and layer different patterns in similar colors.

"If you're just starting, you can get some colorful throw pillows for the sofa, maybe a quilted blanket," said Edyta Haligowska. "Then add some drapery around a window, and start building in more texture. Seek out thrift stores or new designs that embody the bohemian look."

Pro Tip: If you're using well-loved or secondhand rugs, you can layer a smaller rug on top to conceal areas that aren't in good condition. This same approach works for covering furniture.

2. Try Using Travel Souvenirs

Bohemian travel decor

Bohemian decor is an eclectic blend of diversity, culture, and art, so why not include what you've picked up during your travels? Traveling expands our horizons and creates memories that will last a lifetime, so display your souvenirs with pride and watch how they transform your boho space. For example, you could collect something like baskets or hats on your travels to make a display wall, as we see in this boho bedroom.

"Treasured souvenirs from far-away places may be focal points but are displayed in a way that feels more casual and less like a visit to a museum," said Tiffany Gholar.

Pro Tip: To prevent the museum look, find ways to incorporate your travel souvenirs in existing arrangements or display them together in something like a shadow box shelf.

3. Add Botanicals and Greenery

Bohemian greenery

Boho spaces seem to demand botanicals and greenery to be complete. So try to add a variety of easy-care plants to your home, and don't forget to make sure they're pet-friendly if you have furry friends.

Pick spaces around windows to make sure your plants have plenty of light. And if you'd like to take a page from the beautiful display above, try adding botanical prints among your greenery for extra character. You can also use DIY leaf prints to a similar effect.

Pro Tip: Spider and snake plants are excellent, low-maintenance options for those who struggle with live plants.

4. Add Decorative Items

Bohemian decor

"Decorative items like candles, sculptures, or baskets of cozy throws all enhance the boho vibe in a space. Don't forget scent, too," said Alexandra Davin.

Since more is always more in a boho space, don't skimp on the decorative accents. Candle arrangements like we see above create a romantic, relaxing vibe — if you don't want exposed flames in your home, LED candles or candle-lit lanterns work well. And to make your home smell delightful, look for things like scented candles, incense burners, and oil heaters.

With bohemian interior design, the most common saying is "more is more." So you don't need to worry about eliminating clutter or other minimalist staples. As long as each piece in your space is thoughtful and intentional, you'll never have "too much."

Pro Tip: Try adding a basket of blankets to introduce texture, decoration, and function all in one.

5. Look For Vintage and Handmade Pieces

Boho vintage

Look for boho decor at the local antique shop or anywhere you can buy handmade goods. Vintage and handmade pieces stand out, and they make it easy to take your bohemian interior design to the next level.

"Seek out handmade products from artisans, whether at local craft fairs or on sites like Etsy or Novica," recommended Tiffany Gholar. "Other tried and true sources for home goods with this aesthetic are World Market, Anthropologie, and Earthbound Trading. Target is another good place to look, with their Opalhouse collection and Jungalow collaboration with Justina Blakeney."

"Art objects in bohemian spaces tend to have telltale irregularities and imperfections that come from being made by hand as opposed to being mass-produced in a factory (even if they are mass-produced)," Gholar continued.

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What Are Examples of Boho Furniture?

Bohemian design plays with the contrast between old and new. Many boho furniture pieces come from antique shops, secondhand stores, and restorations. But there's nothing wrong with buying something new if it fits your decor.

"Bohemian furniture can be oversized and maximal, with loud fabrics and patterns," said Edyta Haligowska. "Or it can be more on the minimal side with simple colors — but it is always comfortable." 

Karen Rohr believes that bohemian furniture "is all about making a statement and a timeless look." The Phoenix-based design adds: "It is all about mixing and matching different pieces to create a unique, eclectic look that's colorful and full of personality. There's no right way to do it or limit it, making this style so fun and interesting."

What Are Popular Bohemian Colors?

Boho color palettes can include anything you'd like, but earthy and gem tones tend to be the most popular. For example, some spaces use muted and neutral tones, while others prefer bright and bold colors, and there's a wide range of variety in between. Here's what our experts had to say:

"In my opinion, there is no singular bohemian color palette," commented Tiffany Gholar. "A color scheme can be multicolor, monochromatic, or neutral without getting in the way of a bohemian chic design. The look is more defined by the motifs than the colors."

"With boho design, it's pretty free-spirited and up for your own interpretation," Alexandra Davin told Living Cozy. "You can definitely go for a more neutral, muted color palette that sticks to beiges and browns. The light wash of materials like cane, bamboo, and natural wood is beautiful in these spaces and totally complements that look. On the other hand, jewel tones are often associated with this style, as they can go very eclectic and bold, depending on the designer."

Written by
Shelby Golding
Shelby Golding is a Colorado-based writer/editor with over a decade of experience. She has a college education in interior design and enjoys woodworking in her free time.

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