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Published February 01, 2017
What would Henri Toulouse-Lautrec say about today's bohemian style? What was once the signature style of poor artists living on the cheap has become a favored form of expression of the wealthy eager to live the artisanal lifestyle.
"The original Bohemians generally did not have a ton of money, so they made do with what they had. And because they were creative and artistic, what they had was a love of art itself and beautiful aesthetics. They also had knack for creating a beautiful space with very little money," says Tracy Kay Griffin, the lead designer at Express Homebuyers in Springfield, VA.
Not everyone has "bohemian blood," Griffin says. "It's either in you and it flows naturally, or it doesn't."
If you don't feel a natural flow, your boho dreams could become a big boh-no. If you lack the eye but love the look, try house hunting with boho in mind, looking for rich, layered fabrics, mismatched decor, and a variety of patterns.
Granted, sellers don't usually let you keep the decorations -- but when they fit the house so perfectly, it never hurts to ask!
Here are six bohemian-inspired homes, perfect for dreamers.
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The listing says…: "Beach Bohemian Chic comes to Alys Beach."
Our take: This six-bedroom waterside estate is undeniably sexy -- but less bohemian and more rustic coastal chic. Reclaimed ceiling beams, blue-and-white color scheme, and Spanish-style decor create a decadent, Mediterranean-meets-Caribbean coastal palace. Sure, there are metals and bold patterns, but just because a space is luxurious (and that enormous marble master bathroom certainly is) doesn't mean it's boho. It's just nice.
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The listing says…: "Bohemian elegance on Point Dume."
Our take: What city knows bohemia best -- both past and present -- than Malibu? Peek inside this 4,500-square-foot ocean view escape, located right off the Pacific Coast Highway, and you'll find plenty of rustic appeal and boho inspiration.
"The bohemian decorating scheme is all about the eclectic clash of patterns and colors," says Sacha Nizami, an interior designer in Toronto. "Layering is the single most important element in successful bohemian design."
Here, layering goes to a near-extreme, with a lounge covered in vintage rugs and topped by eclectic seating of every variety -- swings, tepees, and rockers. Yes, the rest of the house might be a wee too modern for classic bohemian tastes, but its careful design whets the appetite.
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The listing says…: "The home, once a renowned bohemian enclave, is now a masterfully remodeled, timeless residence, with classic details, modern ease, and intimate luxury."
Our take: You can't say a home that was literally once a "renowned bohemian enclave" isn't bohemian, can you? There are plenty of New Mexico-inspired touches in this all-white wonderland, like the adobe walls and terra-cotta floors, but there are enough lush foliage and artistic moments to make La Bohme feel right at home. Gather around the stone moss fireplace to practice still life, or soak up the inspiration in the master bath's claw-foot tub.
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The listing says…: "This Bohemian-Spanish, Moroccan inspired Woodland Hills home features expansive views of the Valley."
Our take: Here's a pick for the not-quite-millionaires among us -- and it's the one we think Toulouse would find most appealing. Richly colored rugs cover the floor, and stark white walls pair with bold teal doorways and bold fabrics. The library is a luxurious heaven, with blue built-ins and lush daybeds, and the kitchen's cacophony of color and quirky tile work is a boho-lover's dream. Sure, some rooms still need an artist's eye, but we're certain you'll find inspiration.
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The listing says…: "Perched up on a secluded corner, this antique colonial and barn are a bohemian retreat and a departure from the everyday."
Our take: This gorgeous barn needs a lot of work if boho decor is your end goal -- but if you're looking for a place to live the truly bohemian lifestyle, it might be perfect. For $649,000, you'll find a 1801 post-and-beam barn and 4.5 acres of "mini-farm," including a small garden and plenty of wildflowers. Interiors are definitely rustic in nature, but with some inspiration, a few cans of paint, and swaths of vivid fabrics for layering, you might just mistake your surroundings for the French countryside in the mid-19th century … until it snows, that is.
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The listing says…: "This delightful Key West style cottage is infused with a bohemian beach feel."
Our take: Boho style is "very casual, with layers and layers of mixed patterns artistically displayed throughout a home in rugs, pillows, fabrics, and art," says Griffin. "That combination tends to be the essence of the bohemian style today." This three-bedroom cottage is the closest to embodying the true bohemian spirit. From a kitchen layered in red, green, copper, and vintage art to the delicious master bedroom with bold colors and textures aplenty, every square foot of this gorgeous home screams bohemian. With a Floridian twist, of course -- like the tree-patterned outdoor sofa and lush backyard oasis covered in palms.