The New Bohemian

The New Bohemian

Barry Wooley Designs

Just like bohemian fashion, bohemian design is sexy and attractive because it gives no regard for what is vogue.

Barry Wooley Designs

December 9, 2016

by Skye Squires


In lieu of yet another holiday blog, I decided to freshen things up with a some unorthodox interior design pointers. This list breaks many of the traditional rules of design guidelines, so if you’re not a rule-breaker, I suggest you look away! Personally, I consider my style a little off the beaten path. People often ask where it comes from and quite frankly, I can’t give a precise answer other than life. The closest description would likely be organic modernism—or new bohemian for those not scooping up the newest issue of Domino magazine every month. What follows is my attempt to encourage you to express your style through your surroundings with your favorite snippets from life peppered in.

Revive the forgotten. Whether it be your grandmother’s credenza passed down to you or an estate sale goldmine, usually those older pieces that are dripping with character need a facelift. Try switching out the ornate scroll hardware with modern lucite pulls or funky agate knobs. If the furniture piece has a wood veneer finish, you can definitely paint over it with luscious jewel tone or cool neutral and top it off with lacquer for a rich finish. If the furniture piece is real solid wood, please, please, please for the love of all that is interior design do NOT paint it with milk paint or chalk paint. Let that trend lay to rest. For that matter, don’t paint it at all. Revive the natural wood and enrich it with a fresh expresso stain to bring new life.

Simplicity. For me, clutter creates stress. This is certainly a stray from the former definition of bohemian where mounds of accessories, patterns or whatever prayer crystal “nah nah” is stacked on any open surface. Patterns are most certainly acceptable, however I recommend using vibrant patterns in nonpermanent accessories like pillows, throws, etc. People tend to tire of bold patterns and it makes sense to use them sparingly in less costly items, so when the time comes to switch them out you don’t feel like you’re throwing money out the window. For the queen of bohemian simplicity, check out Amber Lewis aka Amber Interiors.

A little bit of the unexpected. Speaking of queens, more specifically the queen mother, Kelly Wearstler is all that is holy in design. To the naked eye, her style is a lot to take in, but she has mastered using the expected and actually making it work.  Recover a stool, chair or ottoman in an old rug or hang it on the wall as a piece of art. Use small wall sculptures as coat hooks. Adorn a single wall in a collage of paintings, sculptures, woven textiles, mirrors, anything in the same hue for an art installation vibe. Place a single iconic accessory on your coffee table. Simple and unexpected. These touches are great conversation pieces.

Earthy. As a general rule of thumb, I encourage everyone to bring a little piece of earth into every room. Incorporating elements of wood or plants into each room gives a sense of growth, health and balance for good feng shui. Yes, decorating with gorgeous stones and crystals is a way of harnessing the earth element as well, but in my opinion has become too trendy and predictable. Having natural components in each room brings a sense of stability in your life for an overall calming effect. And of course flower power—fresh flowers are the best way to bring the outdoors in. For a positive way to start your day, place fresh cut stems on your nightstand so it’s the first thing you see when you wake up.

Fall in love with your art.  I try to remind people that art is more encompassing than a painting or framed photograph. Sculpture, textiles, photography, books, ceramics, even lighting are all forms of art you can use to adorn your dwelling. Placing a stack of beautiful design or fashion books is a fabulous trick to emphasize an accessory. Use ambient lighting to set a mood or accent your favorite artwork. Collect pieces you can’t live without and over the years you will have a mini museum of your own. If you like to travel, that is one of the best ways begin the process. Outside of travel, there are a million and one options for finding art treasure—estate sales, garage sales, galleries, peddler’s malls, art fairs, etc. They can cost a penny, but be sentimentally priceless; they can cost a fortune and be priceless as well. Quality is greater than quantity when considering your personal comfort.

Just like bohemian fashion, bohemian design is sexy and attractive because it gives no regard for what is vogue. Remember: always, always surround yourself with what makes you happy—even if it is an unfortunate chalk painted dresser. Design to express, not to impress.

Location and Hours

The Portland area, off of 10th Street, is the new home of Barry Wooley Designs’ flagship location. Its convenience to downtown, ample parking and proximity to the areas top restaurants make it a great location for a wonderful shopping experience. The BW Design Team operates out of this hub of creativity.

Operating Hours
Monday - Saturday - 10am to 5pm

Barry Wooley Designs
116 S 10th Street
Louisville, KY 40202-2612



Whether you are looking for something comfortable and sophisticated, or rich and relaxed, you've landed in the right place. Our team is looking forward to connecting with you and creating a space that inspires.