|Painted door of the library at Charleston, home and host of the Bloomsbury Group|
Because I don't want to load up too many heavy articles back to back, we shall now take a short, eye-candy intermission to see what the home of a bohemian looks like.
Firstly, the most famous bohemian home that I know of, a home that has inspired me for years and years: Charleston, the home of artist Vanessa Bell and writer Clive Bell, and meeting place for the artists, writers, and intellectuals known as the 'Bloomsbury Group', which included Vanessa's sister, Virginia Woolf.
The 18th century farmhouse house sits in Firle, East Sussex, in the U.K., and remains today very much as it looked when the group met there, beginning in 1916 when Vanessa, her fellow artist (and sometimes lover) Duncan Grant, the writer David Garnett, and her two young sons moved in. Among those who met at Charleston were the Woolfs, Roger Fry, Lytton Strachey, John Maynard Keynes, T.S. Elliot, Desmond MacCarthy and E.M. Forster who were close friends.
Despite the house having only basic plumbing, no gas, and no electricity, the house was made into an inviting artists' retreat with murals, painted furniture, artwork, and ceramics, inspired by Italian fresco painting and post-Impressionist art. Creative uses for objects pervaded the home, such as an upside-colander being used as a lampshade here in the dining room.
For years the Charleston home inspired me to decorate the old homes I liked to inhabit in university and elsewhere, though in a rental my efforts at decorating often amounted to something like the bathroom above! Colorful, artistic, but not very appealing. If I were allowed, I painted every room in the house a bright color, with stencil work, murals, tapestries, and fairy lights as a backdrop to copious artwork; both prints of famous works (usually by a Surrealist), or by my many amateur artist friends. The end effect was very much a university students' home--not exactly what I would choose to live in today.
Yet, 'Bohemian' is a strong interior decorating style today, and the choice of a modern-day bohemian who refuses to live in a house that looks anything like an Ikea catalog. Also called 'Fleamarket Style', it was my favorite style up until I became a Goth, and I began to take all the luxurious, dark, or romantic elements of Bohemian style and condense them into something much more dramatic.
But I still love the elements of Bohemian style: old furniture, lots of color, lots of artwork, libraries and overflowing bookshelves, ethnic tapestries and oriental rugs, second-hand curiosities, souvenirs from around the world...
Often the 'Fleamarket Style' has a feeling of dilapidation, but today's modern bohemian can live in a brand-spanking new home and still convey the spirit of an artist. Just look at these crisp, colorful rooms:
This picture freaked me out a little because I had wanted to make exactly the same kind of bedspread for my bed while in university...but never finished it...too many novels to read and essays to write!The exotic, international elements were my favorite about this style, and so the typical import store (or what a cynical friend of mine calls asian plunder shops) were my first stops when buying something new.
For more eye-candy on the bohemian style, I highly recommend this interior decor book, Bohemian Style by Elizabeth Wilhide. It features the Charleston home in addition to many other, new and old homes.
Or, for an online fix, check out these sites:
And if you would like to visit Charleston yourself, visit the official historical preservation society site: Charleston.
So, who here likes bohemian style in their own home?
I still love it, though I love the more gothic, dramatic, decor of the new Modern Baroque style much more for my present home.