How to Turn a Bleak Apartment into Your Own Bohemian Refuge

When you live in a series of rented rooms, you begin to get used to a sort of institutional ambiance. But now you’re getting settled in a city apartment and making a new start. You want to turn your bleak, new home into a warm, comfortable getaway.

You love the mix of texture and color that marks bohemian homes, but you aren’t sure how to achieve the look in your own apartment. Use these design tenets to turn your cold surroundings into an eclectic sanctuary that brings you closer to nature, even in an urban jungle.

Creative Lighting

Because bohemian spaces often implement overhangs and canopies, you want to incorporate multiple light sources to keep the space looking bright and warm. Keep some windows uncovered to let in natural light, but also come up with other creative solutions.

Here are a few ideas:

  • Antique lamps with patterned shades
  • Christmas lights or fairy lights
  • Colored light bulbs
  • Paper lanterns
  • Scented candles

As long as your chosen light source doesn’t create a fire hazard, don’t hesitate to add it to your space.

Deep, Vibrant Colors

Unlike some design styles, bohemian decoration doesn’t stay within a specific color palette. Instead, it relies on bold, rich color choices to create an intense, stimulating coziness. Look for paint, furniture, and decor in colors like:

  • Chocolate brown
  • Burgundy
  • Electric blue
  • Emerald green
  • Royal purple
  • Sunshine yellow
  • Turquoise

Stay away from muted or pastel colors, but you can incorporate faded, distressed, or vintage-looking options. To add more dimension to the colors in your apartment, use stained glass and hanging jewels to cast colored light.

Hanging Decorations

Bohemian design comes from the styles often found in roaming caravans. These caravans dealt primarily with small spaces, which put floor space at a premium. Rather than sticking with traditional decorative displays, hang your decorations from the walls or ceilings.

Add tapestries or fabric to walls you can’t paint to incorporate them. Create the illusion of a tent by adding draperies to the ceiling. Hang jewels, posters, light strings, strings of beads, birdcages, plants, or mirrors to redefine your space.

Mixed Patterns and Fabrics

Bohemian decor capitalizes on the charm of used and secondhand objects. This gives you expansive options when it comes to upholstery, bedspreads, curtains, and canopies. Use whichever patterns and fabrics most appeal to you. Common choices include:

  • Embroidered, sheer fabrics
  • Faux furs
  • Floral patterns
  • Handwoven rugs
  • Natural hemp fabrics
  • Persian and oriental carpets
  • Silk and imitation silk

Anywhere you place fabrics, layer several styles and pieces to spice up the design.

Natural-looking Plants

In the ’60s, the hippie movement adopted freeform bohemian decorating. Hippies valued a connection to nature and the elements.
Cultivate your own connection by integrating plants into your apartment.

Use hanging potted plants, vibrant flowers, aromatic herbs, and sweeping ferns to implement plants in your home.

If your current move is short-term or you don’t have much of a green thumb, opt for artificial plants. You can position these vines and flowers to best fit your other decor. You won’t have to worry about losing your plants when the weather changes or you move again.

Or mix artificial and real plants. Stick to imitations for difficult-to-care-for plants like orchids. Pick up seeds or seedlings of easy-to-handle plants like perennials, ficus trees, and indoor ivies.

Remember that bohemian chic is all about melding styles to create a homey, stylish space. Don’t worry if your furniture arrangement and hanging accessories begin to feel crowded—as long as you still feel charmed by the effect, you’re doing it right.

Even if you know your current move won’t last long, you can create a colorful, comfortable nomadic refuge while you’re here.

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