Nicola Broughton is a maximalist superstar on Instagram. The 30,000+ followers of her feed avidly engage with the images and stories that she shares: as she translates her passion for maximalist living into a real family home. We're delighted she's collaborated with us to create this wonderful How To guide - on creating the perfect maximalist bohemian home. Using images and experiences from her own interior design journey, this guide will inspire newbies and experienced hands alike. You can follow her on instagram here.
Nicola Broughton's 6 step guide to creating the perfect, maximalist bohemian home - "no rules decor"
The good thing about a bohemian, maximalist style is that there are no rules when it comes to decorating you home. Whether you follow, the white wall, “jungalow style” of Justina Blakeney or the dark cocooning look of at Abigail Ahern, your ability to interpret the look is endless. If you’ve never tried this look, or are new to decorating, this might strike fear into your heart, but part of the fun is to discover how things go together, to make mistakes and if you really don’t like it, you can always change it back to how it was before.
I haven’t always aspired to this look in my home; when we first moved in I painted the house in light, bright colours and kept furniture and accessories reasonably minimal, always with an eye to selling the house. Then it slowly dawned on me that actually we had bought well - with a bit of knocking about we have a six bedroom Victorian home - and we were not likely to move anytime soon. Around this time I discovered Abigail Ahern and her dark style, which drew me to this interior look and so the house has gradually been painted darker as I got braver in my design choices.
Paint Choice is not the only aspect of the Bohemian Maximalist style; it is the whole “feel” of the space that furniture, art, lighting, accessories and plants bring together to the mix, regardless of whether you are a dark or light home lover. Many bohemians are avid “thrifters”, and I also fall into that category, having restored and renewed second hand furniture for a long time; items bought in car boot sales, or through auction. Naturally not every piece in my home is second hand, I have many new pieces too, but getting that balance of the new with the old and a sense of history helps create an interesting space in which to live.
So for those of you keen to create this look, how do you go about it?
I regularly buy new for large ticket items such as Sofa’s and Beds; my green velvet sofa from MADE is one of my favourite pieces. The key to this look is then to mix the new items with older pieces (next to my new sofa I have old apple crates as side tables, for example) or if buying new chairs, to have them complementing not matching. In my living room I have a cream sofa, a black Eames rocking chair, a brown leather armchair in addition to my velvet sofa; all go together but do not match. This theme continues around my house.
Picture 1 shows one angle of my living room. The ceiling light is by RockettStGeorge. My cream sofa is by DFS. The wallpaper is from wallpapersdirect. My Eames wooden chair is from eBay. Rug is from Covet Ilkley. Mirror is by Laura Ashley. My art I have sourced from a few places including Tin Design and Nickie Kelley.
2. Layers and texture
I then add layers, such as textiles; throws, sheepskins, cushions, curtains all of which add texture and warmth to a room, in different colours and patterns. If you rein in the colour pallete, you can work with more pattern and texture as shown in picture 2.
Picture 2 shows my green velvet sofa from MADE, against a painted wall in downpipe by Farrow and Ball. Sources: Cushions, Grey September Stores, Covet (as before); Black circle cushion, Yellow throw: Orla Kierly; Faux plants and eucalyptuy, Abigail Ahern, Olive & The Fox, Moroccan poufs, picked up at the souk in Morocco; Industrial light. Covet, as above; Wall hanging. Happy Mountain Designs. Etsy; All other items sources as thrift/ebay.
I love to collect art; whether old pieces I pick up at antiques fairs, on eBay or bits of photography. An art gallery wall is another good way of brining in the maximalist theme into you home. Here in my bedroom I have shown how to mix up older pieces of art with newer finds. I personally find that darker wall emphasise the art on display, as you can see here against the black wall. My hallway shows a different mix of art but still with a gallery style as a theme, against a dark wall.
Pictures 3 and 4. Gallery Walls in my bedroom and Hallway. Sources: ebay, etsy, rocketstgeorge, violetandthistle & Hilary and Flo.
Creating more than one focal point and adding drama can help add to the atmosphere of you home. I always add wallpaper to my room schemes, usually just as a feature wall, as in this bedroom shot, or covering a fireplace wall. This helps to add to the texture and interest to the room.
Picture 5, my guest bedroom. In the above picture, the wallpaper is based on work by fine artist Reeta Ek for FEATHR, a piece of art on its own; available at Curious Egg. Furniture is second hand bought at auction. Lighting by Covet, as before.
In my bedroom a dramatic painting hangs above the bed drawing you eyes as you walk into the room. It creates a real focal point.
Picture 6. The main bedroom. The main picture is from Hilary and Flo, the wallpaper by Cole and Son, the throw by BohobyLauren. Chest of drawers from eBay. Wedding blanket from Rockettstgeorge.
Lighting is key to any scheme but especially so in a dark maximalist home. I always have interesting and dramatic ceiling lights but I rarely switch them on, preferring a scattering (up to 6 or 7 in each room) of table and task lights some new, some industrial, and some quirky. These help to create an atmosphere that harsh overhead lighting simply does not.
Picture 7. My dining room. In the above picture, a mud bead chandelier by Graham and Green is the main light over the dining room table.
Finally accessories, knick knacks if you like, but also plants and flowers, books and candles: they all build layers over the different aspects I’ve discussed before. They add interest, warmth, colour, and smell and you will find examples through all the pictures in this piece and throughout my home. These little pieces, collected and sourced over years, are what make my home complete.
So I’ve described in a few short paragraphs how I’ve created my home, naturally it's ever evolving and to collect some of the vintage pieces has taken me many years. So don’t be daunted or put off if it doesn’t work for you first time or if you want to change things; that is after all, for an interior lover like me and hopefully you, if you’ve chosen to read this, most of the fun.
More about Nicola Broughton
Nicola Broughton is a maximalist superstar on Instagram. Her 30,000+ followers avidly engage with the images and stories that she shares, as she translates her passion for maximalist living into a real family home.
She's a mum to two boys, Alfie 5 and Jack 8 and wife to Sam. She's a hobbyist rather than professional interior designer, to her it is a passion not a job.
Her life is as full as her walls: not only is she a mum but she also fits all the home design in while holding down a particularly busy job. She's the holder of a doctorate in Biosciences, and an Investment Director and Head of University Partnerships at Mercia Technologies PLC, where she spends her days commercialising university start-ups in Midlands, the North and Scotland.
She finds decorating a great stress reliever. Her husband despairs, because it’s when her life is at its busiest that he will find her with a paintbrush in hand. She thinks her passion for interiors traces back to her parents: her mum was into interiors, and she remembers people coming to their house and saying: ‘Wow!’.
You can follow Nicola's instagram feed here.
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