Call me a bit nostalgic but I love the relaxed vibe that bohemian homes offer. Our homes are often too preppy and formal, hardly the place to relax after a long day. Thinking about bohemian decor, I find it fun and inviting. The combination of warm colours - terracotta reds, dusty pinks, yellows and lots of green just makes me want to open up and for some reason, reminds me of holidays.
But boho homes are so 70s, you may say. Well, yes, and no. If you work the Bohemian trend the right way you can really get away with a few extra Moroccan cushions and saturated colours. But here's a place we often neglect when it comes to styling and which I wanted to turn into a little bohemian oasis this week. Drumroll please...
While we lived in a flat until 2011, I had often dreamt of owning a garden and turning it in a jewelled coloured sanctuary, just like those beautiful enclosed gardens you can find in many homes in Morocco. Our current home had extensive landscaping work on its garden a decade ago, by the previous owners (thank you, thank you, thank you). It was the selling point really when we saw it, with its tall green natural fence that surrounded the back of the house. So the moment the weather feels dry, we move everything outdoors (and keep warm with an outdoor heater and our little chiminea!).
This was the first weekend we did it. Armed with those Moroccan cushions I was talking about, I moved one of our oriental rugs in the garden and quicklyturned it into the magic carpet that would take us all far away. It was a strictly, "shoes off" event. So welcome to...
My 5-Step New Bohemian Garden
(and scroll to the end for an exclusive 5 Question interview with Philippa Prinsloo,
Head of Design, Home at John Lewis)
Step 1 - 'Ground' your scheme
Going bohemian means using a lot of textiles and having a base to start with is elemental. Oriental carpets are great and the bolder their colour the better. Ben Ourain rugs also work a treat (aren't they the epitome of Boho chic?) and you can find them in a variety of sizes, quality, and for every budget. But personally, I like colours and would go for a red or blue base before layering up. The rug below is a red Bokhara rug (with the distinctive elephant foot print) which originates in Pakistan.
Clockwise from top: Pakistan Bokhara Handmade Rug, Red, from £99; Farrah Berber Rug, Multi, from £330; Kalkan Rug, blue, from £160; Weaver Green Juno Collection Washable Outdoor Rug, Navy; Fusion Shifra Kelim Rug, from £120; Fusion Manisa Kelim Rug from £120; all John Lewis
Step 2 - Relaxed sitting arrangements
Forget button studded sofas. Kick off your shoes and walk barefoot if you can (highly recommend it, it's perfect to recharge your batteries). Move your seating on the floor - use large floor cushions and poufs and combine them with low tables. Here, I covered my old ottoman in a tribal print (it's the Nazca Furnishing Fabric, Indian Blue, from £16p/m, from John Lewis), and used it as a table. You will instantly feel like you've gone to the park for a picnic, but trust me when I say that this informality is revitalising!
Step 3 - Layer colour
True Bohemians are not afraid of colour. But in order to not look outdated, use colours in your scheme that are 'now' and trendy, and yes, that even means adding a bit of neon in! Brighten up your table with this beautiful table runner. Made from cotton, it is machine washable so is suitable for both every day and occasional use. The light blue colour is replicated on the plates, bowls (these are from Pols Potten) and the wine goblet whereas the dark blue thread is aligned with the ottoman fabric.
Continue the colour theme as much as you can. The blue on the runner is now echoed on the neon stripe cushions on the garden sofa (which I conveniently also added on our sun loungers over Dakara Zambesi towels). And the red from the carpet now finds its way to the sheer voile panel behind the sofa which is added for effect.
Step 4 - Lighting helps
Any stylist will tell you that lighting is paramount to a great scheme. So if you are outdoors what do you do about lighting? Luckily, for us the garden has hidden lights in every corner. But just to make the setting more special I used festoon outdoors lights behind my sofa. If your back garden is up to 5m wide, these would do perfect, otherwise try to find interconnecting ones.
Step 5 - Accessorize with plants!
And for the really fun bit, just add ethnic touches to your scheme, and lots of plants. Start on the table with succulents and cacti and then move to the floor. Place them in weaved baskets to complete the look.
Above: variety of baskets, from £15, all from John Lewis
5 Questions for Philippa Prinsloo, Head of Design
Home at John Lewis
Q. What interior needs do you feel are being addressed with the new collection?
A. It is relaxed, updated - bold, positive and aligned with the seasonal sprit of summer!
Q. What 3 key colours should one focus on to nail the bohemian look?
A. It's about eclecticism and individuality – colour and material mix ... so isn't distilled down at all.
Q. Modern bohemian, the Design Project, the collaboration with Doshi Levien: Do you feel that the John Lewis customer profile is changing, and are you looking to satisfy the design inspirations of a younger, more design conscious audience?
A. We are always looking to the future and the customer's style and taste evolves with that. Through Instagram and Pinterest our customers have become much more confident and expressive.Design is important to us and our belief is to genuinely think about how people live so that we can design products that they will love. Every project has a different criteria but we always apply this simple premise - to design it thoughtfully and make it well.
Q. What are your hero pieces from the Edit?
A. The Dakara floor cushion for its vibrancy and joyful colour, as well as the Weaver Green outdoor rug - washable - made from recycled plastic bottles.
Q. Does a particular room work better with the bohemian Edit?
A. I would love to see this Edit in many British back gardens or decks - extending out the indoors to celebrate those special sunny days would be wonderful.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this styling and if you have any corners of your home to share with me, use the #NewBohemian hashtag on Twitter and Instagram! If you want a second look, here are all my hero pieces to nail the New Bohemian trend!