A fresh take on bohemian home style is gaining traction, inspired perhaps by last fall’s publication of The New Bohemians Handbook by best-selling author/designer Justina Blakeney and Haute Bohemians by photographer Miguel Flores-Vianna.
It’s not a new idea. The look has been around for more than a hundred years, from 19th century France (think La Bohème) to 1950s beatniks and 1970s hippies. Born of economic necessity and a rejection of bourgeois values, it was an unconventional style with the heart of an outsider—artistic, multicultural, and a little threadbare.
Today’s bohemian style has the soul of its predecessors and the sensibility of today. It’s more refined, clean and edited—less shabby than the original but still idiosyncratic. The look first popped up on the coasts: West Coast bohemian interiors are barefoot, light-drenched spaces that reflect sand and sun with a nod to the 1970s; the New York interpretation tends toward darker, moodier, more intellectual spaces that hint at 1950s beat culture.
A Minneapolis designer who embraces the aesthetic is Kristin Rackner, founder of Studio Vice. The style appeals to her because it is, by definition, comfortable and authentic to its owner—the antidote to cookie-cutter design. “It is essentially a style that connects us to the earth and our senses and strikes a balance between the ache for nostalgia of the familiar and a longing for something strange and unknown.” says Rackner.
The kitchen in her home embodies this spirit. It’s clean, white, and bright with distinctive Moroccan tile, a gallery of art set against a dark wall, and plenty of interesting wood and plant accents.
Essential to the style is personal expression. Elements include lots of layering, pattern, texture, art, and natural materials—plants, textiles, wood, stone, and as much natural light as possible. A new bohemian space is welcoming and embracing. There’s a colorful rug underfoot, green plants to refresh the eye, interesting art on the walls, a nubby throw pillow that begs to be touched—a careful collection of items that work in harmony. But nothing is too fussy and nothing is too precious. It’s there to please and comfort its residents and visitors, to be enjoyed and lived in. And isn’t that the goal of any good home design?