How to Shop for the Bohemian Chic Look

How to Shop for the Bohemian Chic Look

Sarah Coffey
Jun 10, 2011

Although it looks effortless, the 'Bohemian Chic' look can be a surprisingly difficult style to pull off, particularly when you're on a budget. It requires good flea market and thrift store shopping skills, a strong source list of global stores, a selective eye when you're shopping the big chain stores, and the ability to mix and match.

For instance, this vingette mixes a Shaker-style solid wood bench with a Moroccan fringed blanket, hand-woven pillows, and painted floors that are scuffed 'just so.' All the items shown come from Plumo, an import store based in London.

Learn How to Accessorize with Flea Market Finds

Flea markets are the perfect hunting grounds for Bohemian styles. Rugs are common finds, and they can be layered to get the hippie chic look. Other frequent scores include vintage lighting, tabletop, and artwork.

How to Accessorize with Flea Market Finds
Flea Market Guide: Coast to Coast
10 US Flea Markets Worth a Trip

39f0ccf1f28beda178f790c7ab22c3310154f6ea. w.94 h.71 s.centercrop Alameda Point Antiques and Collectibles Faire
If you live on the West Coast, this Bay Area flea market is definitely worth a trip at some point. With over 800 outdoor dealers, it's a serious antique shopper's market that's open year-round on the first Sunday of each month.

f42a9737d7db38c1382e5c7c83e6d496b9e6f543. w.94 h.71 s.centercrop Brimfield Antique Show
Held three times each summer (between May and September), this is the mother of all flea markets. It's HUGE with over 6,000 vendors, and it's packed with traditional and modern dealers — you'll find plenty of antique vases and brass candlesticks.

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On summer Saturdays, the outdoor Brooklyn Flea Market pops up in Fort Greene; on Sundays, you can catch it in Williamsburg; and in the winter, it moves indoors. Shop here for vintage library lamps, antique typewriters, and leather trunks.

Hone Your Thrift Store Shopping and DIY Skills

The best stylists can walk into a thrift store and zero in on the pieces that will complete a room. Keep an eye out for items that can easily be updated with a coat of spraypaint or a good cleaning.

Thrifty & DIY Shopping Tips from John Loecke and Jason Oliver Nixon
How to Collect Quality Furniture When You Don't Have Much Money
Best Thrift Stores and Flea Markets 2010

6cf74c22aa65d089591e6996198f6fbaea3c122b. w.94 h.71 s.centercrop Goodwill pulls from a national inventory of used items, and it operates like eBay, except that all proceeds go to Goodwill's education, training, and job placement programs. Although there are some junky things, the site offers lots of good stuff, too.

fb741af4c6bd2c97b8b922aa72147f63609b3560. w.94 h.71 s.centercrop Craigslist
It revolutionized online classifieds, it fuels Apartment Therapy's daily Scavenger column, and despite its tendency to feel (quoting one Apartment Therapy writer) like "a badly behaved lover," we keep coming back.

458745c5f2d6f1b14f8b43b4ba8d04c656cbabad. w.94 h.71 s.centercrop Etsy
Over just five years, Etsy has managed to become one of the largest online retailers of affordable vintage goods, with hundreds of thousands of sellers. There's a lot to sift through, and searching can take some time, since it's always being updated with unique finds.

Get the 'Well-Traveled' Look without Leaving Home

Mixing styles and patterns from different cultures is key to the Bohemian look. If you don't have the time or money to shop the globe, there are plenty of local and online import shops that bring their finds to you.

Beyond World Market: Global Shops You Might Not Know
Hippy Chic: A Guide to Bohemian Living
Well-Traveled Homes

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Based out of Atlanta, this online and in-person shop was founded by interior designer Kay Douglass, who travels regularly and stocks her store with unique finds from France and Belgium. Shown left: UK-Style Alicia Sofa, $4,550.

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Former stylist Jamie Rosenthal runs this shop out of Los Angeles. A world traveler, Rosenthal sells striped towels from Tunisia, Irish linen napkins, Liberty of London fabrics, and hand-blown glassware from Mexico. Shown left: Ikat Pillow, $225.

eea5a862ef1ef229834894490dd267b029e34dea. w.94 h.71 s.centercrop The Loaded Trunk
Founded by global shopper Roni Jaco, the Loaded Trunk is an online source for textiles, artwork, and housewares. There's a really nice selection of Suzanis, Mexican bedspreads, and Herki rugs from Turkey. Shown: Indonesian Ikat Textiles, various prices.

Be Selective When Shopping at Chain Stores

Part of the appeal of the bohemian look is its unique, individualistic aesthetic. Furniture and accessories from chain stores can help to round out the look, but they should be used sparingly.

Chain Store Chic: Finding Beauty at the Big Retailers
Best Budget Stores: Big Box and Outlet
Top 5 Cheap Furniture Basics

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Known for their affordable "global" style, they have a lot of jute and wool rugs that are pretty cheap compared to other retailers. They're also a good source for shag rugs on the cheap. Shown: Kimono Print Micro Jute Rug, $50 - $80.

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Designers John Loecke and Jason Oliver Nixon recommend them as "a source for Josef Frank-ish fabric on the cheap. They're everywhere," they say, "and they offer bespoke services, even in small towns." Shown: Ila Citrus Fabric on sale for $32/yard.

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It's great when used in small doses, and it can bring a little bit of modern edge to the Bohemian Chic look. Stay away from fiberboard, and shop for longer lasting materials, like solid wood, glass, and metal. Shown: Ljusas Ysby Table lamp, $80.

Top Photo: Plumo

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