Thursday, August 22, 2013

Can You Recognize Bohemian Decor?

There is a frequent customer that comes into the consignment shop where I work part-time. She is one of those homeowners that cannot make a decision unless everybody, their brother and their dog weigh in with   opinions on her choices. Her ideas, she said, were all over the place. She thought she lacked a defined style. What this customer lacked was decorating self-esteem. I wrote a previous blog on self-esteem and decorating (see archives). The gist of it is that you need to trust your own taste. 

True advice

The reason I bring this up again is that after speaking at length to this lovely lady it turns out that she has a long line of maternal ancestors who had a Romany background. Say what? Her hot mess of OTT decorating (according to well-meaning friends) was a true gut-feeling of the Bohemian decorating vibe!

Lovely pink Boho room

So how does one recognize that look in a room? Let's dissect a couple types of Bohemian decor starting with the example room above. 
In this case the FORMAL velvet furniture upholstered in hot pink is against a CASUAL concrete wall. The wall is decorated with a FORMAL grouping of plates and a FORMAL French mirror. An disparate group of FORMAL lights are hanging in the corner over a FORMAL end table but there is one CASUAL end table as well. Everything sits on CASUAL distressed wood floors and CASUAL sheepskin rugs are thrown around. The overall balance of formal and casual ingredients is the modern Bohemian/Eclectic look. Here's another:

Boho perfection

Lovely soft colors. Modern Bohemian does not necessarily mean loud and garish, it is the feeling or mood of the space. The FORMAL velvet sofa is made more CASUAL by having the seat and back cushions upholstered in a print/solid mixture. FORMAL chairs, tables with FORMAL accessories and lamps are sitting atop a CASUAL sisal carpet. I think I may have thrown in an area rug under the coffee table for a stronger Boho vibe.The draperies are FORMAL while the artwork is decidedly more CASUAL with the wrapped canvas edge showing. The content is ethnic with a nod to Man Ray, very CONTEMPORARY. What is the more traditional Bohemian look? Check this out:

Traditional Bohemian Decor

CASUAL slipcovered or worn velvet sofas rule here to balance the FORMAL architecture and case goods,  sometimes just a throw is used over the worn upholstery. Loads of pillows in a mixture of patterns is the posh factor. English country houses have a more formal Bohemian vibe, but everything is well used, worn and from another time. Books, plates, plants and clutter define the idea. Here is another: 

Bohemian x 10!

This is Bohemian at it's best. FORMAL wood paneled walls, FORMAL chaise and chairs, plants, FORMAL but quirky lamps and shades on FORMAL end tables. I love the CASUAL distressed painted floors without carpets, CASUAL wood roll up shades, CASUAL use of embroidered and burn-out velvet shawls thrown over the furniture and fussy lace edged pillows to lean against. Adore the little low Asian table used for tea! Here is a casual example:

Hippie Boho

Wow, this brings back memories of college days! Definitely based on hippie Bohemian brought about by students with small/non-existent budgets, old houses cut up into lower priced apartments and non-conformity. Thrift store shopping and cast offs from others defined the look originally, sometimes it wasn't pretty! This example is lovely, plants everywhere, throws over furniture and pillows galore. Love the Indian garden umbrella (source) and the peacock chairs. We used to throw scarves over the lampshades, but watch your lightbulb wattage. Fires can and did happen!

Beautiful Bohemian-styled room

 Another wonderful example of a FORMAL rug and sofa with CASUAL tables and side chair against a CASUAL brick wall. Classic mixed accessories of a FORMAL mirror and CASUAL vintage fan complete the idea.
So do you think you can recognize a Bohemian room and utilize some of the principles in your space? Let me know your comments and about your projects in the works!

(All pix re-printed from Pinterest)

Monday, August 19, 2013

The Vanity Fair

During the week I see clients and work part-time at an antique/consignment store. I love reselling the vintage pieces and accessories brought in for consignment and re-purposing the items I bring home myself. Recently I have noticed a frequent request. Mothers are asking if we have any vanities for their daughters. The few we had in the store sold within a one month period. What is going on here? Seems there's a resurgence in the popularity of the bedroom vanity aka the dressing table! 

Makeup lady at a contemporary vanity

I had one when I was first married a hundred years ago, but they were out of favor soon afterward with the carefree, un-made up makeup of the late 60's and early 70's. They languished around the bedroom, neglected before they were sold, put in the attic or just thrown away. Today you will sometimes see them in antique and secondhand stores labeled "Ladies Desks". One way to sell them I guess!

Multi-layered girly vanity 

The above example is probably what most of us think of when we are thinking dressing table or vanity. It seems narcissistic and old worldly but vanities were actually at the height of popularity in the 1920's, think Hollywood glam actresses. 

Bohemian designed vanity 

I think one of the the reasons for the re-popularity is that modern ladies use a lot of make up products and shared space in the bathroom is at a premium. The mall has several specialty shops that on weekends are filled with  girly-girls and party-goers getting their face done. The theatrics and drama of the modern make-up artist is something to behold! 

Hollywood Regency style dressing table

To have the choices in beauty products available today would have been unheard-of back in the day for me, but surprisingly was there for my Mother and my Nana before her. Figures! 

Beautiful re-purposing of a vintage vanity and office chair

Another reason for their re-popularity has to do with the return interest in mid-century modern interior design a la Grace Kelly, Doris Day and Gidget! 
Vanities are basically 2 types, bedroom furniture and bathroom built-in. The above examples were furniture, let's see a lovely built-in feature….

Well planned built-in vanity

Beautifully planned ahead and executed design in a bathroom, a luxury I would love to put in my home. The side lamps are important for full facial lighting. I went to several blogs and sites to find the ideal tips for adding a vanity and found a concise list here
for lighting, comfort and storage. Here are a few more vanity designs:

Overhead lighting is key in this bathroom vanity area

Space saving wall mounted vanity area, a little dark though

A vanity area can be made out of spaces other than furniture as seen in the example above. One client's daughter used a wall hung laptop desk for hers. Here is a wonderful example of a space carved out of a bedroom corner: 

Add a table to make a vanity

 Love the simplicity of the table/vanity. The extension mirror makes it practical as well as functional. Overhead lighting is important in this soothingly dark bedroom.

Feminine fantasy room  

Under the window is especially practical, the lighting reflects onto the face and it can be used as a desk for other times of the day.

OTT bedroom fantasy
Wow, what a vanity in this fantasy room of opulence and luxury. I'd never leave!

Have fun designing your perfect vanity/dressing table. Don't forget to keep it neat and clear off the clutter between uses. Wallow in your femininity! 
Leave your pix and comments below, love to see them!
(All pictures reprinted from Pinterest.)

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Macrame Revisited

I was a child of the late 60's & early 70's so I grew up with macrame everything. In California where I lived it was prevalent in clothing, jewelry, hair ornaments, ubiquitous plant hangers and of course home decor. There was not one area of life where macrame was not used. Well maybe it wasn't used in food, but just about everywhere else. Towards the end of the trend, it was getting pretty ticky-tacky.

Picture of man-crame via here

Xmas tat via Google

Lately, I noticed a resurgence which makes me very nostalgic. There are loads of new artisans (young blood) that practice the art, so the ideas are fresh and not your Gramma's tat. Simple is usually best with macrame, such as the hangers below:

Simple hanging pot holders via here

There are obvious exceptions though. I found this pic of a beautiful room divider by macrame artist Sally England:

Beautiful Divider by

Macrame is of course the art of knotting in a set pattern to achieve a type of woven fabric or project that is open or closed weave. The above pots demonstrate the most open of patterns, the Christmas Tree is a very closed pattern. I love the look of natural materials used in the macrame process, wood, shells, rocks, beads and in a more natural color as well. I remember acrylic/nylon ropes and yarns used in the past. The colors were horrendous and the fuzzy ends were not the best look either! Here are some pix of contemporary pieces:

Headboard via Bee of Design

Hangers via Pinterest

Fabulous Furniture via here

And there are beautiful designs in jewelry as well:

Gorgeous necklace via here

DIY necklace via here

Macrame is a must in Bohemian/Boho decor and also works well in nautically designed spaces. There are loads of books through Amazon (some of the best are vintage) as well as tutorials on Youtube and Pinterest that will get you started on a project. Once you do start though, be prepared to have a new obsession! Have any projects you'd like to share? Make a comment and let me know!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Bohemian Swag

OK, first I have to get some ranting done, it's a pet peeve and the only way to get through this is educating peeps!

The way fabric falls is drape, as in "look at the drape of this fabric". The completed project hung on the window are draperies, plural, get it? I know picky, picky! 

Rant via Pinterest

Now the rant is done and we can get on with business.

Draperies in Bohemian/Boho design are quite varied, as in all design projects. That being said, there are specifics that are true to the feeling and look. One of the simplest and a perennial fav are simple sheers blowing in the breeze.

Romance in window treatments via Pinterest

Sigh, summer in one look and the best for romantic bedroom design. There are very sheer sheers and heftier  sheer fabric.

Linen sheers via Pinterest

But when we think of Bohemian design, voluptuous, colorful draperies spring to mind first. The range is all over the place, from hankies sewn together in a perfect rectangle to re-purposed silk saris:  

Hanky draperies via Babylon Sisters
Sari draperies via Babylon Sisters

The above examples are from a wonderful Etsy shop called Babylon Sisters. You can get there here. Gorgeous!

Printed fabrics sewn into luscious fullness are another hallmark of the Boho look:

Boho room via Google

As well as beautifully done shades:

Balloon shades via Pinterest
Pink room via Lonnie Magazine

Of course what would Bohemian decor be with out velvet draperies with or without tassels, tiebacks and passementerie?

Velvet via Pinterest
Trim via Moon to Moon

And beads are back in style:

Beaded bathroom via Google

Beads as swag via Pinterest

Macrame and beads via Pinterest

A personal favorite of mine is the vintage look of colored glass as window coverings:

Love the grape via Pinterest
Glass vases as window treatments via Pinterest

Another is stained and plain glass:

Beautiful music room via Pinterest

Leaded glass over the sink via Google

The 1960's brought us the hippie look of plants as window treatments. Looks as good as ever:

Lovely plant treatment via Pinterest

Plants as draperies via Pinterest

If nothing else seems right, opt for the no swag at all look:

Feminine Boho at it's best via Pinterest

Colorful Bohemian room via Pinterest

All certainly are in the feel of Bohemian/Boho decor and should get the creative vibes going. Need some advice in the window covering department? Post your question below and I'll give it a go!