WAY TO GO BOHO #1 / How to Get Look

I see so many fun boho rooms, and I can’t begin to replicate all of them at home. So I decided to start a feature where I dissect a cool boho space and show you how and where to get the funky stuff you need to make it your own. Each “Way to go BOHO” feature will be numbered, as well as tagged for easy future reference.

I found our first inspiration photo on Decorola. If that’s not the ultimate source of the photo and you know who/what is, please share it with me and I’ll gladly add attribution.

What do you love about this space? I love…

  • The mix of modern and vintage. Notice the antique glider and cupboard paired with modern artwork and a midcentury “snack tray” side table.
  • Pattern. Black-and-white checks, diamonds, tiger, leopard and zebra keep the eye moving without overwhelming.
  • Color. Turquoise walls make the black-and-white accents pop, as well as the yellow in the trunk and glider upholstery and the magenta in the pillow and flowers.
  • Versatility. A gray sofa and the small-scale checked, black-and-white chair can take on a dozen different looks with a simple change out of accessories.
  • The unexpected. Bright yellow upholstery on an antique chair, a wicker patio chair brought inside to add seating, and toys on top of the cupboard.

Let’s see how to get the look…

Black and white all over

I didn’t realize how much of this room is black and white until I started dissecting it. Basically any of these elements could be changed out for something in a different style, as long as it stayed within the palette.

For instance…
  • The loveseat in the photo has arms that are rounded, but the one I’ve selected would work just as well.
  • I couldn’t find a buffalo-check, knitted throw, so I substituted the chevron.
  • The upholstered accent chair in the photo has a curvy white frame and what appears to be small-scaled houndstooth patterned upholstery. The only other chairs I could find had larger houndstooth upholstery which competed with the zebra hide rug, so I opted for this script printed chair with the black turned-wood frame.

The key attribute of the lamps is the shade shape. I chose to stay with the fan shape of the inspiration photo, but any two black floor lamps with matching shades would give pretty much the same feel. That said, switching ALL the black, gray and white to creams and browns would produce a similar feeling room as this one, but in a warmer palette. Zebra rugs come in black or brown, or you could switch zebra out for cheetah or leopard.

| 1. Rio Grande Wrought Iron Floor Lamp | 2. Wrought Iron With Scroll Leg Base Floor Lamp | 3. Rizzy Home Chevron Stripe Throw | 4. Urbana Chenille Condo Loveseat | 5. Zebra Pillar Candle | 6. Black-and-White Diamond Pattern Picture Frame | 7. | 8. Dar Folding Snack Tray, Black | 9. Black Resin Wicker Patio Dining Armchairs | 10. Black Wood Polo Magazine Rack | 11. Animal Hide Black and White Zebra Area Rug by Acura Rugs | 12. Black and White Leopard Print Pillows | 13. White Tiger Skin Print Pillow |

Against the wall

The walls represent the biggest pop of color. Whatever brand of base paint you prefer can be mixed from whatever chip you choose, regardless of brand.

If you already have colorful artwork and accessories you know you want to use, let them, as well as your preference in your home’s light, dictate your final choice.

Here are a few different turquoises to compare…

Wild card #1: Antiques

One wild card of getting this room right is in the antique or vintage pieces used. Let’s get a closer look at those two pieces…

I couldn’t find anything new or used for sale that even faintly resembled this rocking chair and armoire (or cupboard). So if you’re really in love with the vibe of this room and haven’t inherited “just the thing” from your parents or grandparents, plan to spend some time combing antique stores, estate sales, and Craig’s List, and hold out for what’s truly unique.

Another alternative is to go with something ultra-modern, maybe even kitschy, or meet halfway and look for midcentury modern pieces.

These two pieces work so well in this room, even though they’re not black, because the warm red-brown of the wood echoes the wood floors. So keep your own flooring in mind as you build your room. If your flooring is lighter wood, perhaps these pieces should be too.

If you can’t find an upholstered rocker, or if you already have one you want to use, you can get a look that’s close to the inspiration photo with throw pillows. Matching yellow pillows for the seat and back on an all-wood rocker would do the trick. Or keep just the raspberry pillow on the seat and add a yellow one for the back.

I said earlier I was surprised at how much of this room was black because it felt so bright and cheery to me. I think the black provides a great backdrop here without calling attention to itself. It makes everything else look good, so to speak.

One of the reasons it does such a good job as a unifier is that that it’s the major component of two of the works of art used—the central painting and the sculpture in the corner. That’s another thing to keep in mind as you develop your room’s palette and accessorize.

Wild card #2: Art

As for art, I would suggest that’s where you start to build your room. Black and white will, of course, go with anything, but that doesn’t mean the room will look unified. The black works so well here without becoming overwhelming not simply because it’s a neutral. It’s because it’s a major component of the two most noticeable works of art—the central painting and the sculpture in the corner.  

That central painting has pops of yellow, which probably dictated the direction the rest of the room went. The smaller prints are difficult to make out, other than they appear to be modern and/or abstract. But I do see blues and purples. They’re matted in white, which creates a buffer between them and the wall color.

If you’re at a loss about how to find a piece as impressive as this one, or you simply can’t afford to do so (join the club!), substitute a large jar or urn, or—even better—a garden ornament, perhaps a buddha head. The key to achieving the look of the inspiration piece is, I think, scale and tone. You want something about this size in comparison to the rest of your room and its furnishings, and you want it to be even-toned in the major neutral hue of the room (in this case, gray or black).

Ready to roll

Here are the rest of the colorful accessories I found…

| 1. Decorative Purple 12-inch Wooden Vase | 2. Striped Kilim Pillow | 3. Solid Turquoise Flanged Pillow Cover | 4. Kantha Throw | 5. Buddha Head Indoor/Outdoor Sculpture | 6. Magenta Silk Pillow Cover | 7. J. Queen New York Kingsbridge Tufted Round Throw Pillow in French Blue | 8. Antique Style Steamer Trunk |

One last look

Boho is all about breaking rules, going a little or a lot “wild,” and pulling in global influences, nature and hand-crafted items. It thrives on the unexpected, on juxtaposition, on exaggeration and gush, on layers.

Have some fun with it, move elements in and out, and use what you absolutely love. Along the way your eye will become sharper and your spirit will soar, especially when you’re in that room you love so much.

Way to go, boho!

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