One of the toughest things about implementing that seemingly easy, breezy bohemian aesthetic at home is making it appear effortless, as opposed to overworked. A design style that has never really gone out of style, the bohemian vibe is as on-trend today as it was when it was first founded in the late 1800s and early 1900s by French artists who wanted to move away from the middle-class way of life towards a more unconventional, artistic lifestyle. “They were wanderers and adventurers,” says Dubai-based interior designer Ruth Abela, who runs decor company Setting the Scene, and describes herself as a “boho girl at heart”. It’s a style that Ruth says is so popular in the UAE perhaps because so many residents set sail to the country – or boarded an Emirates flight – in search of new adventures in a foreign land.
No rules apply
Embrace the natural and laidback components of this lush, inviting, boho style – a style with no set rules to follow except to be bold and adventurous, allowing your creativity to roam free. “If you want gold and silver together, go for it,” says Ruth. “If you want black walls in a tiny space, try it out. Everyone says it closes the space, but with clever use of mirrors, it can be made to look bigger again.”
Consider colour and texture
Whether starting from scratch in designing a room, or looking to inject a touch of the bohemian into an existing space, Ruth suggests you begin with a defined colour palette. If you typically shy away from using strong shades, Ruth insists that you can still achieve the traditionally colourful bohemian look by sticking to neutrals. “I’d go for white, cream, beige, grey and green as an accent colour, with lots of blonde wood, wicker and jute,” she says. Use lots of natural materials, such as cottons, wool rugs, jute, wood and bamboo. The right rug can unify a room, but needn’t cost the earth. Ikea sells beautiful jute rugs, the Lohal line, starting at Dhs295.
Clockwise from left: Nour hanging lamp, Marina Home Interiors, Dhs275; Maloya wooden box accessory, Marina Home Interiors, Dhs252; Ilima cushion, Marina Home Interiors, Dhs295; La Paz cushion, Marina Home Interiors, Dhs 131.25; set of three Iringa baskets, Urban Nest, Dhs1,500; Aztec throw, Urban Nest, Dhs500.
Every boho pad needs a cosy reading nook, and we’ve found the perfect, affordable option on Instagram from Head Over Clouds Dubai. Designer Tugce Tascioglu’s bespoke hammock swing chairs with colourful tassels start at Dhs350. Daybeds featuring natural textures and vivid patterns, like the options we stumbled across at Urban Nest, are made for lounging – exactly the relaxed vibe a boho home should be aiming for. And couches in vibrant colours, such as the mustard yellow beauty we found at Home and Soul, help fill your space with vivid tones.
Where to shop
Along with picking up key pieces and trinkets on your travels, Ruth suggests browsing a few stores closer to home. “White Moss is my go-to shop for everything boho,” says Ruth, who loves their oversized wicker light pendants. Also pencil in a visit to Marina Home Interiors, Tribe, the Dubai Garden Centre, Home and Soul and Alba Home Lifestyle for juju hats, macramé and a whole lot of rattan.
The more, the better
This style of interior design carries a certain vibe – a coolness, a relaxed ambiance – that is both natural and over the top. Think lots of patterns, plants and accessories; stacks of cushions and throw pillows; masses of texture and pops of colour. Hang plenty of art, but also keep some pieces on the floor, leaning against the wall. And display your worldly possessions everywhere.
“Layer patterns and fabrics,” says Ruth. “Drape a Merino wool rug on your sofa. Underfoot, lay a jute rug, then add a wool rug over the top to create a lovely cosiness in the room. And add plants in terracotta pots. Monstera plants are an excellent boho addition.”
If you do nothing else, overdose on cushions: large ones, small ones; covered in velvet, needle point or macramé; printed in vibrant colours, adorned with embroidery; they all work. And you can never have too many.