Boho bedroom ideas are a way to truly express your personality. Bedrooms aren't a place that many guests see or spend time in - they're created just for you to enjoy. Which means you have a bit more license to let your decor flair run wild, to use color and decoration in a way you might not dare in more public parts of the home.
But that's not to say that anything goes. When it comes to bedroom ideas, throwing all your favorite pieces at the wall - literally - just won't cut it. You still need to make a space that feels restful to go to sleep in and invigorating to wake up in.
Take it from the master of bohemian decor, fashion and interior designer Matthew Williamson. 'I think of my look as organised bohemia, which by it’s nature is a bit more calming to live with,' Matthew says. 'It’s intended to look thrown together, but it’s simply not - I’m meticulous about curation. I don’t want anyone to move my cushions!'
So here are some - l'm not going to call them rules, I'll say guidelines - to getting boho bedrooms right. A little reigning in before you allow your creativity full freedom.
A quick note on what I think constitutes a bohemian bedroom because let's be honest, the term is open to interpretation. And so, to be boho, I'm going with: a joyful color palette, an unusual print, a statement piece of furniture and a sense that the decorator has followed their heart, not a design book, to create the space.
Boho bedroom ideas
1. Pair unexpected colors
You might never expect to see blue and red sat next to each other in most decor books. They're seen as neither total contrasts nor complementary shades. Yet in this guest bedroom by Beata Heuman, they work rather well.
'There’s a Diana Vreeland quote I used in my book that says “A little bad taste is like a nice splash of paprika. I think we could use more of it - no taste is what I’m against,”' Beata says. 'It gives you permission, I think, to be nostalgic, sentimental and to display pieces that make you feel something.'
The trick to using wildly different colors is to keep them to separate zones. Here, the crimson frames the bed while the blue forms the frame around the alcove - they sit by side, but don't meet, exactly, linked instead by the white cornicing. You could apply this approach to the ceiling and floor, perhaps with a more neutral shade in between.
2. Be ornate, but in a relaxed way
A curlicued headboard can look help to add a bit of artistry to a space, and is an easy update you can make. La Redoute sells a great selection here.
But by using a material that reads as relaxed, like wicker, cane or rattan which all speak of the beach, this stops the headboard seeming formal and keeps it squarely boho instead. They all just happen to be key bedroom trends, too.
'For our client’s home on Long Island’s Northfork, our goal was to make the beach cottage feel summery and warm,' says Keren Richter of White Arrow, who designed this space above. 'The primary bedroom features washed linen bedding, a rope-wrapped bedside table, and a textural ceramic table lamp. The rattan scroll headboard lends a playful vintage accent and continues the warm feel throughout the home. We love the use of layered and time-worn materials that feel honest and laidback.'
3. Use rattan whenever possible
'Rattan is a great leveller,' the interior designer Tamsin Johnson once told me (more on her later). 'It allows you to put lots of formal pieces together in a room by bringing them all down a notch, making the entire space seem relaxed.'
And so, like the curlicued headboard in the second idea, this grand headboard feels a little softer thanks to its rattan middle. You can apply this in all sorts of ways - a boho bedroom filled with stripes and patterns and then with some rattan furniture instantly feels more down to earth. The material is like a visual palette cleanser, adding pause between your more daring pieces.
4. Display your favourite objets simply
I always think bedrooms are a good place to display your most treasured objets. On the whole, only you get to see them, which increases their feeling of rarity and specialness. It helps to make your modern bedroom feel like a sanctuary in the truest sense of the word.
You could build bedroom shelving into the headboard, as seen here, or you could simply place your pieces on a regular shelf or a chest of drawers. What you need to avoid is the feeling of clutter, and as Matthew Williamson says on his own boho aesthetic: 'I'm not a cluttered hoarder.' So make sure there is space between each item for it to breathe, and for you to fully appreciate its beauty. Place objects at regular intervals and you have a curation, not a jumble.
5. Clash patterns, calmly
There is a serenity to this scheme by designer Tamsin Johnson, despite the bedroom wallpaper and headboard being such an obvious - if deliberate - clash. The way Tamsin has navigated this is to pick base colors that have the same tint - so it's a greyed out blue and a greyed out red.
As any true bohemian will appreciate, there is a historic, artistic pedigree to this design. And like all good boho bedroom ideas, it wasn't put together at random. Instead, Australian born Tamsin drew on local inspiration.
“There are some persistent feelings about Sydney and its harbor that have been deeply investigated by local artists and one in particular, Brett Whiteley, I think will have the greatest lasting impact,' she says. 'I wanted to elaborate on his use of ultramarine and ochre. It’s now a scheme etched into the Australian collective psyche. I wanted a version of this.'
6. Be artfully contrasting
This project by Workstead is located in the heart of Chelsea’s gallery district in Manhattan. 'And we wanted to treat this it as if curating an exhibition,' says the Workstead's Nadine Lynch. 'We recruited a group of local artisans to help transform this modern, white box apartment and infuse it with a sense of place. Hiroko Takeda was one of those artisans that we hired to produce the oversized wall hanging behind the bed.'
It has a bohemian spirits of both artsiness and contrast - the wall hanging was chosen to help ground the space and act as a counterbalance to the large wood platform bed beneath.
'We were very interested in the connection between opposites on this project to achieve balance,' Nadine says. 'Dark and light, fields and lines, and smooth vs. rough. We worked very closely with Hiroko on her trademark waffle style weaving. Hand selecting each strand that would eventually be woven into the wall hanging. We selected dark charcoal fibers and golden mohair to add a subtle contrast and shimmer. The Black fields create a sense of eternal depth - voids that you can get lost in. This allowed us to create a world within the bedroom that would invite you in and allow you to rest and recover.'
7. Use black as a base color
I love black bedrooms. So cocooning, so rebellious, so smart. The interior designer Abigail Ahern once told me that black is great for a walls for one very simple reason. 'Everything looks expensive in front of a black wall,' she said. 'An Ikea table can look like it comes from B&B Italia if it has a black backdrop.' And she's right.
This is why black is great as a base for boho bedroom ideas. It means you can indulge your more whimsical side, hanging woven dream catchers and other bohemian accoutrements, and they still look like the most luxury bedroom piece found on 1st Dibs.
8. Hang statement lighting
'I'm so pleased that people are finally paying attention to their ceilings, one of the largest expanses of the room,' says the designer Lee Broom. 'And that people are finally understanding that lighting can be like jewellery, an extra hit of glamour.'
Nowhere is this more true than in the boho bedroom, and what bohemian scheme is complete without a chandelier of sorts?
Learn from my personal mistakes however - if possible, don't have the bedroom lighting in the middle of the room. It will almost certainly be over the foot of the bed and get in the way as you get in and out. Instead, place it two thirds of the way along the room, closer to the door. Trust me.
And if that's not an option, then choose one with a drop of 24 inches or less.
9. Sloganize your space
The artist Tracey Emin was the one who first popularized the neon handwritten sign, and her punky, bohemian spirit lives on - despite how often it has been copied.
Simply hanging a slogan over the bed can be enough to inspire you to live a little differently, a mantra you see last thing at night and first thing again in the morning.
10. Mine your personal archives
Admittedly, this is on the subdued end of the boho bedroom scale, but I wanted to include it because the duck fabric is so unexpected, so wonderfully surprising, it could only be an embodiment of bohemian spirit.
'Often, the last layer of a design scheme is created by the personal flourishes of the homeowner we add at the end,' says designer Heide Hendricks of the studio Hendricks Churchill who created this look. 'For our Riverside project they wanted us to start with those pieces and build the interior design around them. The duck patterned fabric is a perfect example. It originated as a curtain in the client's mother's home and for sentimental reasons they wanted some iteration of it included. We found the motif charming, so recognized its potential as a headboard feature to bring a vintage vibe into the room as well as an emotional connection.'
Almost all of us have some 1970s or 1980s fabric lurking in an attic somewhere that is fun and reminds us of being kids free in so many ways. Indulge that here for a look that doesn't scream, but whispers bohemian.
11. Embrace bohemia and go all out
As I said at the top of the page, boho bedroom ideas could never be governed by rules, and these are all only guidelines at most. In this space, pattern is layered upon pattern upon pattern, and it ought not work, but it does. Why? Two reasons.
Firstly, there is that black base layer we talked about earlier, that helps make everything feel luxe and put togther. Secondly, because in a true bohemian space, anything goes, as long as you love it. Mix vibrant florals together, fill the space with pillows, stick feathers to the wall if you like. But do it with love and a sense of joy and it's almost guaranteed to work for you.
The editor of Livingetc, Pip Rich (formerly Pip McCormac) is a lifestyle journalist of almost 20 years experience working for some of the UK's biggest titles. As well as holding staff positions at Sunday Times Style, Red and Grazia he has written for the Guardian, The Telegraph, The Times and ES Magazine. The host of Livingetc's podcast Home Truths, Pip has also published three books - his most recent, A New Leaf, was released in December 2021 and is about the homes of architects who have filled their spaces with houseplants. He has recently moved out of London - and a home that ELLE Decoration called one of the ten best small spaces in the world - to start a new renovation project in Somerset.
IKEA baby nursery ideas – 12 inspirational whimsical tricks that also make the space work hard
These IKEA baby nursery ideas offer clever ways to utilize and upgrade basic pieces to create pretty and practical
By Ruth Doherty • Published
Coffee bar ideas – 7 brilliant designs that'll convince you your kitchen needs a dedicated brewing station
Get your caffeine fix with these coffee bar ideas that showcase how you can bring the coffee shop experience to your own kitchen
By Hugh Metcalf • Published