…if your life followed a similar pattern to mine, you were a lot more boho—maybe something close to this?—when you were just out of school, poor as a churchmouse, and making do (home decor-wise) with pass-alongs and a few thrift-store finds. If you’re like me now, you’re starting to think those days had more to offer than you realized then.
I spent a good 20 years as a die-hard colonial fan, complete with camelback sofa, chair styles named after early presidents and their wives, lots of cherry and mahogany and way too many cabriole legs. This isn’t my old living room, but it’s pretty close.
I still think it’s a beautiful aesthetic, but when we downsized from our colonial revival two-storey to a ranch-style condo we had to chuck a big chunk of what we owned. I never would have predicted it, but suddenly I wanted to be surrounded by furniture and accessories with clean lines and bright, modern colors.
I started to find my way back to boho style.
I began to have fun and make fun decorating my new home. I found ways to mix the classic pieces I kept and couldn’t afford to replace with more modern styles, and that’s what’s going on in today’s inspiration room…
|Parker & Company Interior Design via Desire to Inspire|
Somewhere in the middle is where most people gravitate in most things, including their décor. It’s hard to take risks on something as big and as expensive as a sofa or an armoire. But throw pillows? Hey, you can trade those suckers out in a flash if your room needs a refresher. So that’s the way to become more adventurous in your design choices and eventually stretch your style all the way to boho.
This is admittedly NOT a boho room. But the room does have some elements you could find in a modern boho chic living room or study:
- Ikat pillows
- Bright colors
- Persian rugs
- Over-size abstract painting
- Comfy leather sofa
Let’s break it down…
Start with ART
A central painting as bold as this one will be the focal point of any room it hangs in and thus should also be the starting point for furnishing and decorating the room. That is, you decorate around it, rather than choose it because it matches your already pulled-together room. It appears to be an original painting, and though I tried to enlarge the photo and decipher the signature, I couldn’t make it out.
|Mit Dem Pfiel (The Arrow) by Wassily Kandinsky|
It has the same feel to me as the inspiration painting and a similar color palette, though in differing proportions. The inspiration painting is framed with a thin, unembellished gold frame—a classic choice that mixes well with most any era of furniture or painting. I would suggest framing the Kandinsky print in a similar fashion or—even better—having it Giclee printed onto stretched canvas and hung unframed.
So-FA, so good
A gray sofa in any material is a great investment. Gray takes to new color schemes better than any other color. So buy one that lasts and change out the pillows when you and your room need a refresh. The inspiration sofa has more detail than the one I chose for the mood board, which matched it best in shape and color.
If I were buying a new sofa, though, I’d try to stretch my boundaries a bit and opt for this bad boy…
|Ashley Donnell Leather Sofa in Granite, Cymax, $1,100|
I love the seaming details and how the nailhead trim is done on the arm fronts. The overall shape is more modern, but clean enough that it would go with furniture from any period. It also has a bit of a 1940s-50s retro feel to it. It reminds me of car seats from that era or booths at a diner.
The pillows are lame, though. This baby’s screaming for some color! Va-va-va-voom!
More pillow talk
Speaking of pillows yet again—and why not, since they are the easiest, cheapest, least-threatening way to stretch your decorating boundaries—the pillows used in the inspiration room are an ethnic ikat print paired with an on-fire orange velvet. Those in the mood board are similar in color…
Instead of white circles on blue, I chose blue circles on white because the Kandinsky print had a much heavier dose of royal blue than the inspiration painting. I thought the white background on the pillows would help offset that, and it worked!
I also went a bit more casual with the coral pillows, choosing cotton pillows pick-stitched in a herringbone pattern. Both sets of pillows complement the painting hanging above them without competing for attention. All solids would work, too, in some wild and crazy colors waiting for you to to pull them out from your own inspiration art.
Lamps are another great place to kick it up a notch without breaking the bank. Yes, the lamps I chose for the mood board were nearly $600 each. I was trying to emulate the form, color and shade shape of the inspiration, but you’d NEVER find a lamp like that in my house. I get tired of them too fast to spend so much.
If new lamps aren’t in your budget, you can paint the ones you have (not something I’d recommend if the lamp is an antique), switch them out with another room in your house, or see how they look with a different shade. Typically a lamp shade should be the same shape as the lamp. So if your lamp is round, a round shade; if your lamp is rectangular, then a rectangular shade.
But many lamps have a body that’s one and a base that’s the other, so those lamps can get away with a shade of either shape. But that’s just the start. Shades with tapered shades tend to look more formal. If you’d like to dress down your formal lamps, try a drum shade for starters. Or a different color. Or a print.
For this room, I love the classic urn shape, but I’d push the envelope a bit with something along this line…
|LEFT: Dimond Avonmead Solid Clear Crystal Table Lamp, Overstock, $243. MIDDLE: Robert Abbey Artemis Table Lamp, Light Trends, $514. RIGHT: Safavieh Darcy Black Crystal Urn Table Lamp, Overstock, $125.09.|
I love flat lamps because they take up less room on the table and sit closer to the wall. I also love a rectangular (or oval) shade. Even before I saw the Safavieh light was cheapest, it was my favorite.
Pull up a chair
Chairs can be expensive, and the chairs in the inspiration room are sumptuous. We can’t see the seats, but a fun pillow there is a good way to mix old and new and tone down the serious side of any chair.
IF your chairs could use reupholstering and IF it’s in your budget, give those classically shaped babies some updated duds. I kept my Queen Anne wing chair and something called a Martha Washington chair when I moved, but I had them reupholstered in midcentury modern prints. They look great!
Remember that reupholstering generally costs almost as much as replacing a piece. However, production quality being what it is, it makes sense to hang onto a well-built piece and recover it. It will be like new, as upholsterers typically replace all cushioning.
I’d like to up my game and try something like these next time around…
|LEFT: Salmagundi Colorful Wingback Leather Chair, Houzz, $1,300. RIGHT: Salmagundi Boho Wing Chair, Houzz, $1,600.|
One more notch
I love the rugs in the inspiration and the mood board. The only thing I’d change is to add another rug or two and angle and overlap them. Everything else I’d leave the same. See what you think…