Classic interior design styles and how to light them - Bohemian


Want to go a bit Boho? Here’s everything you need to know about 21st century Bohemian interior design - including how to light it…

To borrow a well-known TV catchphrase: ‘Who lives in a house like this?’ It’s a question we might well ask when we look at 21st-century Bohemian - or, as they are more likely to be called now - Boho interiors. An seasoned traveller with incurable wanderlust, perhaps? An artist, a painter, a writer, a successful model? An inveterate festival-goer, who can alway be relied upon to be spotted at Latitude, or, once they have kids, Camp Bestival? Or maybe someone who just happened to grow up in a hippie household, for whom Boho is second nature? Bright, colourful, unconventional - Bohemian interior design is instantly recognisable and you either love it or loathe it. Although it may seem delightfully fluid and eclectic, with no fixed rules, there is a real art to getting a Bohemian interior just right; no design style is easier to overdo. We’re taking a look at the essential elements of 21st century Boho and how to create a home that is highly individual, furnished with pieces that tell a story, warm and welcoming, and - above all - unforgettable. And, because we are Pooky, we’ll show you how to light it too (Tip: if you are a dedicated minimalist, you might want to look away now or even lie down in a darkened room).


Where did Bohemian style come from?

As you might expect of a style whose name stems from the French word for gypsy, it’s difficult to pinpoint a particular designer, or a precise design period or movement, but it has some definite roots in the French capital’s 19th and early 20th century artistic communities. Early Bohemian interiors were sparsely furnished - think Puccini’s Parisian garret in La Boheme - but in wealthier Bohemian salons, there was always a touch of the exotic, not to mention a hint of loucheness. Low-lying sofas and divans, covered in sumptuous fabrics like velvet were popular, as were animal skins, and a richly embroidered silk shawl could often be spotted across a piano - that sort of thing. Bohemian style found a natural home in the Art Nouveau movement and furniture from this period became popular with the suitably unconventional hippies of the 1960s. (They were rather keen on Arts and Crafts pieces too.) At one point in the Sixties, no stylish home seemed complete without a Victorian or Edwardian chaise longue; period furniture warehouses bulged with them. Today’s Boho-chic draws more on tribal and ethnic influences, with a distinct festival flavour, but it is, perhaps, a little less heavy-handed than previous incarnations. Think light-touch Bohemian, if that’s not a contradiction in terms.


What are they key elements of Bohemian interior design?

If you are going for the Bohemian look in you home, here’s what you need to think about.


Warm, woody, earthy undertones, with strong, vibrant floral top notes. If Boho design were a perfume it would be Chanel No 5.


That’s breaking each room down into separate categories, starting with the walls, then flooring, then furniture, lighting, furnishings, wall decoration, such as paintings or photographic prints, finishing with your favourite decorative items. Take it slowly and edit as you go.

Texture and pattern

With Boho, you can indulge in plenty of textural variety and contrasting patterns, in furnishings, throws, cushions and curtains. But go for natural materials and choose carefully; there’s a fine line between pleasing contrasts and variety, and complete overkill.


Well-worn and well-loved pieces always work but avoid the distressed and painted shabby chic look. Let the patina and the wear tell the story.



The houseplant has always had a special place in Bohemian decor, from aspidistras on a stand, via cascading spider plants to the succulents that are so popular today (and great in small spaces). The good news is that you don’t have to stick to macramé pot holders; look for brass planters or quirky, offbeat containers instead.


Unusual, handcrafted items from around the world sit well within today’s Bohemian interiors. But you don’t need to have everything you’ve ever collected on display at the same time. Personal favourites can have a permanent spot but think about a rotating display for other treasures.

Bohemian style inspiration gallery

As with all interior design styles, you don’t have to go the whole hog or be too strict about it. The trick is to take inspiration from design movements and create something unique that works for you. Here’s a selection of interiors that carry a degree or two of Boho chic, created by some of the brilliant designers we’ve interviewed on the Pooky blog. If you click on the pics you can read and see more from each designer, and get an idea of how they take a theme and put their own personal spin on it.

Matthew Williamson

Bombay Sprout

Lucy Barlow

Lucy Barlow

Luke Edward Hall


Lighting your Bohemian home

Given that tribal and ethnic elements feature so strongly in 21st century Boho, Pooky’s Moroccan style Rabat table lamp, which looks as if it has come straight from the souk, has to head our list.


For lampshades, Ikat bestows instant Boho chic…

Straight empire gathered ikat shade


Ikat shade
And overhead, light up your Bohemian hallway, dining room, bathroom or kitchen with Pooky’s glass and brass Stella pendant light, available in regular and larger sizes.

More in our series 'Classic interior design styles and how to light them': 1. Mid-Century Modern 2. English Country House style 3. Industrial style 4. Eclectic style 5. Coastal style 6. Scandinavian style 7. Art Deco 8. French chic 9. Shabby chic 10. Zen 11. Modern Rustic

Let Pooky light up your Bohemian design home – browse our full range of affordable designer lighting here.