Boho queen Justina Blakeney schools us on small NYC apartment design

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If the word “bohemian living” makes you think of the 1960s and hippies, scratch that when it comes to Justina Blakeney. The Los Angeles designer, stylist and blogger (with over 1 million followers on Pinterest) is part of the modern iteration of the Boho movement, where homes are filled with bold textiles, color and pattern, with a focus on design.

In her new book “The New Bohemians: Cool and Collected Homes,” Blakeney highlights 20 homes across the U.S, that embody American boho spirit in the 21st century. Here she explains why technology is driving the resurgence, how to inject the look into a New York apartment, and why it won’t break the bank.

When did your passion for Bohemian style start?

Early! My parents are very much bohemian in their way. My father is African-American and Native American and my mother is of Eastern European Jewish descent. We traveled a lot and had a love affair with bringing stuff home. We also grew up in Berkeley, which is such a colorful city.

How would you describe a New Bohemian” home?

It’s about bringing a creative lifestyle into your home and creating a layered aesthetic, with rugs, plants, textiles and color. This concept of designing your home and then you’re done, to me this is an old paradigm. A modern bohemian home is a wet canvas and is never finished. I guarantee if you went into the homes in the book today, things would be new, moved around, and repainted.

You say the key to a beautiful home is not wealth, but creativity.

I really do think that if you have a vision for something, you can make it come to life, and in a very affordable away. If you are itching to get new stuff, before you start shopping, look at what you have and see if you can give it new life. You can paint something a new color, you can change out hardware.

This West Village apartment living room has a pink Kilim rug and disco ball as a footrest.

Why do you think Bohemian style is having a renaissance?

I think this style has always been there, but our lives being full of technology does play a big role. People are yearning for a human connection, which is why things that are handmade and vintage are so important now. People want to look at something and see the handprint of the artisan, they want something unique and a home that reflects that.

How to inject Bohemian chic into a small New York apartment?

Bohemian style is very cozy and small spaces respond to that. They key things to remember are to use an overarching color palette to create visual harmony, then layer on patterns to make it visually cohesive.

Biggest mistake people make when decorating?

They think that everything that needs to happen in a room goes onto a wall, but no, put some layered rugs on your floor, hang plants from rafters and patterned kilim pillows on your sofa.

Use all your space.

Importance of plants to a Bohemian home?

Plants inject life into a home. We don’t connect with nature enough in big cities, and bringing plants and lush life into your home is a way to do that.

Best tips to Boho on a budget?

EBay, flea markets, thrift stores and Etsy should be on your list. I used to live in Williamsburg and I like “Junk” there very much.

A bedroom in a brownstone in Bed-Stuy. The Suzani bed cover was found on eBay.

You just bought a house in Los Angeles, what are you planning re-décor?

We [Justina is married with a two-year-old daughter] are currently renovating the kitchen, and I have been itching to put Moroccan tile in and I’m doing that, but to be completely honest, I haven’t planned how to decorate. I do when I am working with clients, but for myself it’s very instinctive, and we are planning on taking it day by day and hitting flea markets.

Clearing clutter seems to be the new black. Good idea?

I can relate to that feeling of purging, and I am purging right now as we move. But I like collected spaces, and art and pieces that have stories and memories are important. When you surround yourself with beauty it’s not clutter.

Pic captions: photo credit: Dabito/Stewart, Tabori & Chang.





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