Gallery wall with Freida Kahlo inspired art on detailed wallpaper with dining table in front.

More often than not, homeowners come to us and tell us they don’t really have a style or don’t know what theirs is. If you have read many of my posts, you will know by now that I am not a fan of putting people into boxes or categories. But there is a lot to be said for understanding style sensibilities and finding similarities. They help you achieve a look that will have unifying elements to anchor the integrity of the design. Artful chic or modern boho chic is a look I can completely get on-board with.

Artful chic or Modern Boho chic

Let me start this post by saying when it comes to having a style, you do, and it’s nice to know you are in company of others who appreciate the same things. Do you need to be a slave to that style – heck no. The word ‘bohemian’ refers to someone who is often involved in the arts and thinks in socially unconventional ways making for a rich and heady result that expresses their artistic flair and is filled with visual interest. People who love an artful look are free spirits and don’t strictly subscribe to rules. Let’s dig in.

Artful chic, or its popular subset ‘boho’ is a multicultural melange of layers and elements that work together for seemingly no rhyme or reason but tell the story of the homeowner’s travels. If this is your style, you break all the design rules and pull it off with flair! Design with a global spirit is for you.

1. You shy away from minimalism as if it might be catching!

The basis of this style and key to its success is layers and details. If you prefer a pared down interpretation of this style, that’s fine too. This is for rule-breakers!

2. The idea of dressing up for dinner isn’t even a question.

Jeans are good, faded – even better! Food tastes just as good either way. You are not one for pretense or pomp and circumstance. You are authentic whether presenting yourself at the dinner table or at a gallery showing.

3. Pattern is your favourite colour

The more the merrier is your sentiment. Bring it all on! This look is best achieved with layers of patterns playing off one another. A boho interpretation of this style is all about prints: suzanni, ikat, paisley, tie-dye, mandalas, and embroidery. Lots of embroidery. Not into boho? It’s okay to be artful and yet not a product of the 70’s or flower power child.

Choose hues you can keep coming back to and that you can keep present with all of your elements – especially in darker, more luxurious colors like rose, emerald green, purple, burgundy or terracotta. An analogous colour scheme will keep it restful or play with complimentary colours for an energetic result.

4. You are not a rule follower – especially design rules!

At the very core of this style lies artistic sensibilities. You are the rule-breakers. Your very core beliefs stem from breaking with tradition and forging a new path. You like to do things your way and with a certain flair all your own. And yet, this work is not without a nod to the past. It is just not slave to the past or to any period for that matter.

5. Bright colours call to you

Bright colors and bold hues often come to mind when we think of bohemian decor. From pinks, to purples, to oranges, and greens – the bolder the better when it comes to luxurious bohemian interior design. Often set against matte white walls the textiles and collected artifacts tell the story of your style. As a rule breaker you decide!

6. Shiny new things don’t attract you

…unless they are mirrors and metallics! Mirrors and metallic surfaces are a great way to keep the look fresh and crisp. They also add focal points to your room, and a bit of everyday glamor.

7. You love to travel

This is evident in the many things that grace your walls. Art-work, sculptures, and decor objects are all the thrill of the hunt when you travel afar or locally.

Accessories and art-work tell your story of your travels. Artistic accessories add further interest to your space with for cultured conversation pieces. talking points. Choose bold artistic pieces that stand out and are less than ordinary.

If you aren’t blessed with the luxury of having traveled the world collecting trinkets and keepsakes from every corner of the globe,

8. Your favourite decor elements are plants

A green thumb is gift we did not all receive (clearly finger pointing at myself). This talent may not be know to all the artful people but plants and an abundance of them are an important part of the look. They add to the layers and inject a pop of colour all while purifying the air, and without a great investment.

Here are some great examples of this style.

Below is Mandy Moore’s bedroom – cozy and comfy!

Another pic of her home from Architectural Digest shows her clean pared-down version of artful chic.

Another master of this look is Vincent Wolfe. An artist first, his iconic work exudes artistry and tells the story of a well travelled life.

Vincent Wolfe
Vincent Wolfe
Vincent Wolfe

Look up Haywood Wakefield – defined as mid-century modern, they were active in the early part of the time period and slide neatly into the fold between art deco and mid-century modern celebrating all the notes on form, geometry, and functional curves from art deco with the sensibilities of the mid-century masters. While not a seamless fit for this style, I think these pieces could add some really great anchor pieces to your space if you are taken by anything you see. Mid-century pieces flow nicely with artful interiors in my opinion, as do time-worn antiques.

Keys to success:

Do: use lots of botanicals and plants. Faux is fine, or a deft mix will fool the best of us!

Don’t: get locked into a time capsule. This look is only as successful as it is current and relevant today. Many mistakenly produce a throw-back to the 70’s. An updated current interpretation doesn’t appear to have been lost in time.

Do: layer rugs, tapestries, patterns, pillows to your heart’s content. Some like it simple, some like more, and more…

Don’t: feel you need to get precious about art. Although this look is grounded in art, they don’t have to be all gallery-worthy pieces. Mix high and low pieces in a gallery wall and create an artful mix of frames, subject matter and mediums

Do: have fun while mixing and contrasting patterns, shapes, scales, and styles to create a lush bohemian vibe. It work best to keep a consistent color theme running throughout to prevent a disjointed feel.

Don’t: be shy. This is the time to express yourself and your own unique style. Have fun!

Do: Contrast patterned rugs, and colorful cushions and throws, and inject various patterns if a layered look is your goal. Layering similar patterns has to be one of the easiest and most cost-effective methods of mastering bohemian style while adding an artful note to any area.

Don’t: fuss if your travels are still in your dream list, take a trip to the local antiques store and shop for some interesting treasures to display.

Do: use matte white walls as a good starting place. If you want to add a richly coloured accent wall, run with it but white or dark moody hues create a great backdrop for antiques and sculptural pieces.

“Be faithful to your own taste, because nothing you really like is ever out of style.”

– Billy Baldwin

If you’re still not sure whether artful chic is your style, take our quiz! We all have a bit of inner boho.