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The Harmonious Chaos of Bohemian Bedrooms

Do you love the creative side of home decoration, but hate the stress of matching your curtains to your carpet? Turned off by the thought of trying to pick themes and colors from a limited list of ‘fashionable’ choices? Looking to transform your drab bedroom to an inspiring refuge? Bohemian decor operates on the concept of no limits–inspiration is drawn from an array of cultural movements, artistic styles, and trends in ornamentation. Boho design is flamboyant and eclectic, skirting the daring edge between order and chaos.

When it comes to bohemian style, everyone seems to agree that your own personal aesthetic is what matters most. But in case you need a jumping off point, here are some tips, tricks, and possibilities.

 

Color is Key 

An unexpected and uninhibited mix of colors is key in Bohemian decorating. (by Up By Design, photo by Mike Gagnon)
An unexpected and uninhibited mix of colors is key in Bohemian decorating. (by Up By Design, photo by Mike Gagnon)

When I was about twelve, my mom let me paint my room. I was delighted–no longer would I be forced to gaze at boring, off-white walls! But my mom had a motif to maintain, and I was only allowed to choose colors off a very short list: yellow, sky blue, some creams, pastel pinks–cheerful, unthreatening colors. If you want to go bohemian, you can’t be like my mom. Forget everything you know about color choice and color matching. Think bold, think dark, think daring. Pinks, purples, golds, deep reds; the sorts of colors that make you think boudoir instead of simply bedroom. Personally I love combining red and purple, fashion faux pas or not. When it comes to color choice in a bohemian bedroom, concepts like ‘shouldn’t ever be done’ cease to matter.

Old-World Luxury 

Dark wood can look great accompanied by eye-catching patterns or pops of bright color. (by Anne Tatum)
Dark wood can look great accompanied by eye-catching patterns or pops of bright color. (by Anne Tatum)

A big element of bohemian style is repurposing found objects and turning them into accents–old lamps, tarnished vases, empty wine bottles, candlesticks half-consumed by wax. Think dark wood, think weathered textures. I love this battered apothecary cabinet paired with the color of the wall and the vase of feathers. The handwritten labels especially give it an old-fashioned, informal air. You could use something of the same to store anything from jewelry, to loose coins, to paint brushes.

A Method to the Madness 

 

Don't be afraid to work with several different patterns! (by Katie Leede and Company Studio)
Don’t be afraid to work with several different patterns! (by Katie Leede and Company Studio)

Just like with color, don’t limit your imagination when it comes to patterns, or the mixing of. Riotous textures may seem far too noisy for a bedroom, but with a little forethought and creativity, you can form harmony from chaos. For a bohemian feel, go for organic, flowing patterns–like paisley, or arabesques. As far as textiles go, throw a little damask in. Luxurious and classic, damask is a reversible fabric that has been woven with a pattern, and can be made of silk, wool, linen, cotton, or even synthetic fibers. Mostly, it is characterized by a repeating pattern, and can be used as draperies, bed curtains, upholstery, or really anything you can imagine.

Bring a Little Bit of Outside Inside 

A combination of dull and shiny metals makes for a cool contrast. (by Rasa en Detail)
A combination of dull and shiny metals makes for a cool contrast. (by Rasa en Detail)

As I mentioned above, a scattering of different sorts of found objects are a great way to bring bohemian flair to a room without any large-scale changes, like painting a wall or buying a new piece of furniture. Go for different combinations of metal, the more tarnished the better. Bring a little color into the pattern with some cut flowers or potted plants, either real or artificial. Soft light is another defining characteristic of bohemian design, and candles or lanterns are a timeless–and relatively cost-effective–way to achieve that.

Curtain It Off

Draperies and canopied beds always add a hint of luxury to any bedroom. (by Tierra Del Lagarto)
Draperies and canopied beds always add a hint of luxury to any bedroom. (by Tierra Del Lagarto)

As the name would suggest, the focal point of any bedroom is, of course, going to be the bed. Whether you’re planning to use it for sleeping, lounging, studying, or whatever, a few easy touches can turn a bed to the sort of island of shabby luxury that bohemian decor is all about. The easiest and most iconic touch would be a canopied or curtained bed, like the one pictured above. Curtains are great because they come in a vast array of colors, styles, and patterns, and can really be draped in any way you want them to go. Along the same vein, a pile of cushions, of varying colors and shapes, makes for a quirky, not to mention comfortable, effect.

Really, when it comes to bohemian design the most important rule is that there are no rules. You can go for a themed look–specific color combos and the architectural influence of a single movement and time period–or you can mix and match, adding things as you find them, drawing inspiration from wherever you find it. Bohemian decor looks for the sumptuous in the shabby, the grandeur in the unraveling. Go nuts. Find harmony in the chaos.