Design Lesson: The softer side of Bohemia

Today, we bring you beautiful interiors photography by David A. Land, via a favourite design blog Desire to Inspire.

We love mixing styles and cultures in unexpected ways at IDB, but while our style leans towards the big and bold, we love a lighter touch too. These shots are great examples of how to achieve a more subtle Bohemianism.

Consider this image: piles of books, including a monograph on American Impressionist painter John Singer Sargent (a personal favourite of mine), juxtaposed with neatly trimmed miniature topiary (very French), and a beaded chandelier overhead (from somewhere in the Middle East…perhaps Syria?). Furniture, decor and accessories from all over the world, yet a relatively soft colour palette helps keep it all together—mostly neutrals (when it comes to plants, green is a neutral) with just that central wash of subdued blues in the book covers. Photographer friends may disagree with me, but I feel this image is beautifully lit, too, with a hint of outdoor detail in the window (rather than blown out highlights), and a bit of light reflecting off the gold-stamped book spines. That bit of sparkle helps make the scene fresh and appealing without being too glitzy, especially given that glamorous chandelier. 

Regency dressers, Staffordshire dogs and Sammy Davis, Jr. can all live together visually because they share a common palette of gold and black. Traditional objects (the dogs) mingling in a modern setting (the dresser) make for a very contemporary combination.

Ikea embroidered pillows, a rustic end table and Grateful Dead album covers jam well because they share colours (red and blue, with bits of yellow), textures (worn wood), or a sinuous, undulating quality of line. They also have a common hippy vibe.

In the above image, all the accent colours are citrus hues.

The key to a successful mix, whether daring or delicate, is to find the common threads (and the contrasts) between different objects and ideas. You could reduce things to their essential characteristics, for example, looking at objects strictly in terms of colour, texture and shape. Or you could try looking for a shared idea or history. (For example, Spanish and Moroccan styles tend to complement each other well because of their Moorish ancestry.)

What do you have in your home or office that you haven’t tried putting together yet? Go forth and experiment! (And please share your results in the comments…  🙂

Thoughts and essays on the art and design of experiences, spaces, things and living from Christina and I-D BOHEMIA

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