The New Bohemians: Cool & Collected Homes by Justina Blakeney

Read  June 2017
Recommended for fans of bohemians
★    ★    1/2



Hey, maybe I’m a Bohemian!


My friend Tracy periodically reviews decorating books, and I always end up tempted by her selections. I’m style-impaired, so I was especially intrigued by her review of this one, “The New Bohemians.”

I thought, maybe I’m a bohemian. There was a time when I was known to wear long jangling earrings, flowing skirts and was prone to leaving up Christmas lights all year long (and not out of laziness).

‘Bohemian,’ according to Blakeney seems to mean people who–well, let me have her explain: “Today’s bohemians seek to erase the distinctions between work and play, and our living spaces reflect that lack of boundaries. The new bohemian home is a multifunctional playground for exploration and experimentation: It is an office, an art gallery, a showroom, a daycare, a photo and music studio, even a pop-up restaurant… Our new bohemian lifestyle is rooted in freedom: free-spirited, free-form, and free of rules.”

Oh, that’s so me. I’m all about using my space for all kinds of things. And about ‘no rules.’ Except the one about dirty dishes. Don’t effing leave them in the sink, hey? Oh, and the rule about putting your shit away when you are done with it. But besides those.

However, it turns out, I’m not a new bohemian, because the way it is interpreted in this book means loads of textiles, a variety of both functional and non-functional items in the open, and generally enough stuff to make me want to hire a cleaner at the thought of having to dust and wash these rooms. What it really seems to translate to is lots of patterns, ‘found’ art, and repurposed items applied without regard for matching.


Look at that! That bedroom just yells, ‘let’s play Twister instead of sleeping!’











The clutter and drapery on this vanity had me thinking ‘Miss Havisham.’







This is when I was positive I wasn’t a bohemian. Instead of feeling like I wanted to sink in and kick up my feet, I had to turn the page before I got pattern headache.



And this one! All I can say is that if this belonged to a friend, we’d be meeting for coffee instead of having drinks on her sofa. My eyes.

So, I’m not a new bohemian. I might be just a touch of a ‘modern’ one, however, because they are more prone to clean lines. This one, for instance, came the closest to my style, although still a little too busy in the textile department and not comfortable enough in the furniture.


All that said, I’m sure if one enjoys this style, this will be a great book. The pictures are solid and there are a lot of them. Blakeney has little ‘DIY’ projects at the end of many chapters (although why we get a recipe for daikon radishes, I don’t know), such as how to make a mosaic hanging rack, a vinyl plant holder or a tie-dye-patterened box for those who want to bring the extra personal touch to their rooms. She also has what amounts to a ‘steal this look’ at the end, with tips on curtains, etc. A couple of the houses apparently used painters’ drop cloths and repurposed burlap-bags as curtains. Other suggestions included putting your detergent in a cool glass jar with a mug to pour it out, putting a light in a birdcage for a cool lamp, using decals to make a ‘cheap stained glass’ (pro tip: you can probably find a class and make something way cooler), turning a trashcan from Target upside down and making it an end table, how to make a driftwood hanging lamp, and shopping Craiglist for bargains.

Okay, so not the most helpful of books. But that’s what you get from a modern bohemian.

P.S. I do not think ‘cool’ means what Blakeney think it means.


About thebookgator

avid reader and Goodreads reviewer looking for a home.
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2 Responses to The New Bohemians: Cool & Collected Homes by Justina Blakeney

  1. NeoTiamat says:

    I confess that I am looking at these photos and they basically looks like ‘late 20s grad student chic’ to me.

    • thebookgator says:

      Ha! Ikr? Just because you have audacity and brand doesn’t make it cool. If I remember correctly, the 20 or so people whose houses are in this book are artists/designers/friends of the author/antique dealers or some sort of professional related to interiors.

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