Get the look: Translate Bohemian styles to your scrapbook pages

by Debbie Hodge

“Boho” – as in Bohemian – is back, Baby! It’s been a couple of years, but bohemian-inspired styles have shown up in the 2010 fashion lines.

See it in fashion and home decor

In the Anthropologie catalog, “richly detailed Bohemian decor is on the rise.”

imageSource: Anthropologie

Harper’s Bazaar reports that “Bohemian is back, like a posh Stevie Nicks minus the frayed edges.”

imageSource: Harper’s Bazaar

Elle Magazine has recipe for dressing “boho” that included this tunic from Vivre.  imageSource:

WhoWhatWear’s recent accessory report showed the new trend for bright boho bags.imageSource: – Simone Camille Carryall

Where did the term “Bohemian” come from?

Bohemia was an historical region of the Czech Republic, but it was Gypsy refugees travelling through Bohemia to France in the 15th century, that were dubbed “la Boheme” by the French. They lived nomadically and were thought of as living in merry poverty. They made money with jobs like entertaining, knife-grinding, pot-mending, and field work. Gypsy (and Bohemian) values ran contrary to culture in France at the time. Three hundred years later (in the mid 1800s), a group of artists and students in France had adopted the Bohemian name and a lifestyle. They defied the government, renounced private property, and often lived communally with carefree moral values. Art and literature were their work and their lives.

image Vincent vanGogh’s The Caravans – Gypsy Camp near Arles

How did this lifestyle become a style?

Bohemian originally described a people and then a lifestyle, but now it’s come to be more widely associated with a style of decoration and dress. The original Bohemians loved beauty and surrounded themselves with it in resourceful ways, making do, not overly concerned with matching or variations in color, integrating various ethnic influences, using flowing fabrics and vibrant colors.

imageThere were flirtations with the eclectic spirit of Bohemianism in fashions of the sixties and seventies. The Hippies brought a wide variety of ethnic styles to popularity, including Nehru jackets, loose flowing robes, and peasant styles. The evolution of this in the seventies was to keep the ethnic influences coming, with caftans, kimonos, robes, and muumuus rendered in a wide variety of fabrics with elaborate trims.

The 21st century began with increasing globalization and lots of eclectic ethnic influences, all of this culminating in the mass Boho Gypsy look of 2005. The Bohemian style embraces ethnic influences and comfort, incorporates flow, and aims at looking shabby but chic. In fashion, experimentation with anything from huge sunglasses to baggy pants is encouraged, and features are borrowed from a wide array of cultures. Anything goes from embroidery, primitive and tribal patterns, and beads, to batik and macramé tied belts.

Source: Embroidered Handbags

Bohemian looks on the scrapbook page

For paper scrapbooking supplies, the jump from runway to scrapbook page typically takes six to nine months. Does that mean we’ll see more Bohemian-look releases in January? Here are a couple of recent lines that are great for getting this look. Note: the Nostaligic look is big right now and many of the releases geared toward that style offer elements that work well with Bohemian styled pages.

Lilac House is a new release from Fancy Pants Designs that incorporates the browns and greens of many Bohemian designs as well as a combination of floral and ornamental motifs. Ronda Palazzari‘s “In You” makes great use of this style on this page about a young girl.

imageSource: Fancy Pants Designs

image In You by Ronda Palazzari for Fancy Pants

Prima Designs’ Paisley Road, especially when accented with rich Donna Downey pompoms, yields a bright modern Boho look as shown on Anabelle O’Malley‘s “Memories with You” below.

imageSource: Prima Designs

image Anabelle O’Malley for Prima Designs (with Paisley Road)

In the Digital world, there are new releases every week and the Bohemian influence is going to be seen here first. Here’s a brand new release from Jesse Edwards at Designer Peacocking and a layout I made with it and some other products. The thing about making a bohemian-styled projects is: it’s FUN! Just grab and mix and express yourself.


imagePosing by Debbie Hodge for DesignerDigitals

Hallmarks of Bohemian style

While Bohemian style is, by definition, open to personal preferences and welcoming of experimentation, there are several hallmarks of Bohemian style.

bohemian motifs

These motifs are rendered in many variations, from oversized to small, realistic or stylized, subtle or bold.

  • scrollwork
  • paisley
  • flowers
  • foliates
  • decorative ornaments
  • stripes

“There are No Words” by Staci Taylor for Fancy Pants Road Show incorporates paisley, scrolls, and stripes.

bohemian color and texture

  • greens and browns
  • rich jewel colors
  • velvet, felt, silk
  • decorative embroidery
  • woven textures
  • beads

Of his page “Versailles,” Eric Erickson says, “There’s something about a French countryside and palatial gardens that fit the rustic and floral designs of Basic Grey’s Urban Couture line. He’s used reds, browns, and greens and incorporated lots of fibers and even feathers!

bohemian attitude

  • experimentation
  • flow
  • extremes
  • mixing without emphasis on matching


On “Here & Now,” Jennifer Wilson of Simple Scrapper has mixed several patterns and multiple hues of blue, gold, and pink. The casual arrangement, scalloped edges, and tilted bits are all characteristic of a Bohemian attitude.

Bohemian with Eastern influences

Give your pages a Moroccan Bohemian look with:

  • motifs: flowers, leaves, geometric patterns, and architectural motifs (cupolas, columns, capitals, and arches)
  • colors: reds and oranges (sun); blues and greens (sea); gold and silver (sand)
  • materials: tile mosaic, stucco, ceramics, bronzework, rugs

imageBetsy Sammarco used supplies from the Jenni Bowlin October 2009 kit  to make this page of her son playing his bass. Betsy said, “I thought the Bohemian motif of the top patterned paper and the star burst stencils were perfect for this subject. The pattern gives me a laid back, artsy feel – just what I was looking for.”

I’m hoping this article and the images here inspire you to add a little of the carefree Bohemian style to one of your projects soon! Let us know what you’re doing with it.

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12 Responses to Get the look: Translate Bohemian styles to your scrapbook pages

  1. Christine Rickert August 17, 2010 at 8:42 am #

    Enjoyed your article-maybe because I am not wanting to let go of summer with all its brightness, relaxed style and playful colors. Very informative with the explanation of bohemian style and history. Will have to look for boho style pages and create some. Thanks, Debbie.

  2. Elizabeth August 17, 2010 at 1:03 pm #

    Nice history lesson! I’ll have to try this style and see if turns out to be my style.

  3. Sharon Knopic August 17, 2010 at 7:16 pm #

    Really neat article Debbie, you caught my eye with the cool handbag on the home page, and kept me with the interesting takes on Bohemian. Thanks!

    • Debbie Hodge August 17, 2010 at 8:09 pm #

      Thanks, Sharon! I’m really drawn to the subject and love seeing the interplay of fashion and scrapbooking design.

  4. Shruti Goradia (@kodakCommunity) August 18, 2010 at 2:44 pm #

    Great information and some cool scrap book layouts.

    That yellow handbag looks like it was heavily inspired by handicraft from Gujarat, India. I’ve seen that style in fashion magazines and TV shows as well recently. (I love the mirror work and have a wall hanging in my living room with the same).

  5. Marcia Deignan August 20, 2010 at 12:44 pm #

    Very interesting article! Loved your analysis and all the wonderful example layouts.

  6. chris hennen September 14, 2010 at 9:14 am #

    I love all the colours and mixes. I love bohemian but never tried it on scrapbook pages. but now I will have a go.

  7. Catherine October 20, 2010 at 4:38 am #

    Thank you for the tute – some of the stuff reminds me of my Indian sarees

  8. Ronda P January 14, 2011 at 9:06 pm #

    cool history & transition to scrapping. Love that tunic! Thanks for the link!

  9. rk March 5, 2012 at 3:38 pm #

    I would like to point out that a lot of so called Bohemian style is Indian style copied. It sounds more fashionable to call it Bohemian I think. For example, the orange top/tunic is a typical top style and shape and cut worn on Jeans or other styled pants in India for centuries. The intricate patterns/colors of the bag are also very Indian….hard to tell where Bohemian ends and Indian begins! I just know that the style appeals to me a lot.

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