10 Easy Ways to Get That Bohemian Style in Your Home
Get the tricks of the trade for finding that breezy-cool, laid-back bohemian look
10 Tips for Getting That Bohemian Style
Julia Wheeler has no qualms about letting people know that she and hubby Dusty, a custom wood and metal fabricator, are beach-loving bohemians. It’s written in black and white for all to see on the site of Gunn & Swain, the online handmade clothing and home-goods shop Julia runs. And if you go to the College Area house that they share with their two tots, 5-year-old Gram and 2-year-old Lizzy, it’s as plain as the sheepskin rug on the living room’s army cot. Their boho style isn’t exactly beaded curtain, macramé and tie-dye, but it’s relaxed and artsy with an easy-living vibe. If you want that Southern California cool look for your living space, here’s how Julia and Dusty did it.
Take advantage of our San Diego weather and let the sunshine in. For window treatments, choose something that will let the light in while still providing privacy from the outside.
“At our house, the almost-sheer curtains are there for looks, not function, and to add a little texture to the room,” Julia says. “We also have blinds on all the windows so that we can choose the amount of light that comes in.”
Because Julia and Dusty love natural light, they didn’t want to draw attention to their light fixtures. “The globe light over our dining table is clear, so it gives us a lot of light without making a huge statement,” Julia says.
The living room’s handmade ceiling light has three bulbs to provide a lot of light. But the bulbs are clear, so the fixture itself isn’t that noticeable.
It’s worth spending a little extra for one main piece in your living space that you are crazy about. For Julia, it was their leather couch. “It’s comfortable, practical and can get worn in and look better with age,” she says. “The kids play with their toys on our couch and
everything in the world has been spilled on it, yet it still looks great.”
Add an eclectic touch.
Bucket chairs in fun robin’s-egg blue—a find at a thrift store—bring a touch of whimsy to the wood dining table Dusty made. A vintage Womb chair sits next to the leather couch in the living room, and right across the way, under the window, a $20 army supply store cot makes a fab daybed seat. “I love the hunt for vintage stuff,” Julia says. “You have to be patient; you can’t just go right out and buy everything you want. But taking time to scrounge around provides a chance to get something different that can add a ton of personality to a space.”
Buy a plant or two.
Plants bring nature in, add color and warmth, fill empty spots—and they produce fresh, clean air to breathe. “A plant is a way to add a real, cool decorative piece without spending a lot of money,” Julia says.
Use of natural materials.
Julia’s lucky. Her husband makes things out of wood, so they’ve got homemade tables and shelving they didn’t have to buy.
Plus, their house came with built-in wood cabinets, wood flooring and wood beams on a wood ceiling. “Earthy, natural materials add a comfy, warm element,” Julia says. “I use natural fiber baskets a lot, and I sell Mexican blankets in my shop, so I have a lot of those stacked around my house, too.” Easy-to-get tumbleweed, placed here and there, also captures that natural spirit.
Buy art from friends or locals and group them by color or subject matter to create a cohesive collection. “We have a lot of friends who are artists and we just like having their pieces in our home,” Julia says. “There are so many cool places to get art and support artists. You don’t have to spend a lot of money. Posters or prints in big sizes are available at thrift shops and they are a great way to add a graphic element into your space.”
Keep it comfy.
When Julia and Dusty entertain—which is often—they want guests to be able to sit anywhere without feeling stifled. The leather couch is one example where guests don’t have to worry about spills. Floor cushions get used all the time.
Julia also is fond of area rugs. “Area rugs give you more comfort in a space where you have a hardwood floor,” she says. “Without a rug, the space looks empty. Area rugs bring in color, add comfort and tie a space together.”
Books let people in on who you are and make a space feel more personal. But Julia doesn’t keep a neat and tidy library-style bookshelf. Instead, she scatters books throughout the house.
“I have a more relaxed style,” she says. “Mostly I just group my books—maybe into a color scheme I like or thematically by subject matter. I mix it up.
Some books are lined up going across a shelf, others are stacked on the side. That way it’s easier to grab a book off the shelf to read.”
Last, but definitely not least, Julia says to fill your space with items that are meaningful to you—not items that are trendy.
Choose mementos, collectibles, inherited items, things that friends have made or even just store-bought accessories that touch your heart. Your home should reflect you.
Among many other cherished items at Julia’s house, are numerous guitars. “My husband grew up in a guitar shop,” Julia explains. “His dad still owns it—Dusty’s Guitar in Oceanside. Guitars are shoved in every corner of our house.”
Even 5-year-old Gram has his own electric guitar. “He’s into music,” she says.