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What is Bohemian Elegance ?
There are perhaps a half a dozen names by which similar styles are known.
I, being both Hungarian and an artist...feel that I am a true Bohemian.

'Bohemian Elegance' .... just the sound of the words invokes images of wild enchanted gypsies in their vardos traveling the back roads of eastern Europe... the sights and sounds of the bawdy and passionate Paris in the late 1800's with Monét, Cezanne and Nadar... of deposed Russian Counts and impoverished French Royalty.

For years when asked to describe my method of interior enhancement I would reply "Imagine a slightly trashed 300 year old villa in Provence!"

'Bohemian Elegance' by definition implies age and beauty. The elements MUST be old, vintage, antique or a work of art. Those of us who have always lived a Bohemian lifestyle know that color is an intricate and vital aspect of the style. Vibrant and unique objects are set against an often monochromatic, soft neutral, or ravaged canvas. Often the juxtaposition of seemingly incompatible elements and objects are the crowning jewels of the room and are a hallmark of the style.

Holly Golightly was an absolutely 'Elegant Bohemian' !

The trendy Shabby Chic style may have found its seeds of inspiration in the Bohemian lifestyle. Some of the elements of Shabby Chic are quite similar to 'Bohemian Elegance'. In my book I will attempt to define the elements and boundaries of 'Bohemian Elegance' with its random beauty and indolent chaos, which, by definition, is without fixed boundaries and whose elements are constantly changing.

'Bohemian Elegance' is not a style that is suited to the tastes of the general public. Eccentrics, Artists, Writers, Actors... yes, the 'different' people are the ones who could, would and do live Bohemian. It is romantic and passionate, emotional and thought provoking. We love to color outside the lines.

As a decor, 'Bohemian Elegance' rooms speak to their owners. It is not simply a 'place to hang one's hat'. It is the 'one of a kind-ness' that is in part, the very catalyst that is responsible for the emotional response elicited from a person upon entering a 'Bohemian Elegance' room. In most instances you can repeat the 'emotional aspects' of a room but not the exact objects. Most objects used in the 'Bohemian Elegance' style are one of a kind, the last of their kind or the object has changed greatly since its creation so it is now unique.

I am often asked the difference between Shabby Chic and 'Bohemian Elegance'. The dressing of a casual chair is a fine example:

Shabby Chic will take a large comfortable chair whose basic character is for the most part unimportant to the end flavor of the room, since you won't see it. You would then cover it with a white or rose print pouffy slipcover. Most of the time this is a designers' ready made, repeatable item.

In the 'Bohemian Elegance' method, the character of the chair becomes greatly important. The lines, the style, the type of upholstery and even the wear all come into play.

An old leather club chair whose leather is worn—perhaps even torn—would be a choice find. To camoflage the damage one could use an old silk or velvet quilt, add a vibrant piano shawl, and drape them across the chair, rather than encapsulating the chair as with a slip cover. This allows the greatness of the chair to be part of the overall visual imagery of the room. Both the quilt and the shawl, like the chair, may be in less than fine condition, but this is unimportant. The artistry and craftsmanship that went into these objects is not diminished simply because they've been used a little harshly.

Most often the people whose souls resonate to the 'Bohemian Elegance' method of environmental enhancement feel they too have been used a little harshly by life and are showing a little wear themselves. And like their possesions they too still have a great deal to offer the world. In observing the choice and nature of their professions and considering their emotional and intellectual temperaments I find that these clients are more likely to develop an emotional bond with their 'Stuff'.

— Dovely Maffeo-Ober  2001


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