"Boho-ditional": Which Traditional Elements in Your Home Can You Safely Nix?

Boho-ditional

If you love the idea of adding some California-Boho-Modern decor to your home, but you have quite a few traditional “fixed elements” that you’re worried might make everything feel out of whack, we’ve got some suggestions for you. 

By “fixed elements” we mean things you can’t easily move in your home. Things like tile floors, brick fireplaces, paneling, and we’re even gonna throw in there mounted light fixtures (chandeliers, sconces, flush mounts…). This week we’re taking a look at a few cosmetic changes you can make to your very traditional home that will help you achieve a harmonious “boho-ditional” look. 

The Fireplace

Got Ugly Brick?

If you live in an older home, you’re probably lucky to have a fireplace someplace in that house. Even if that fireplace no longer works, it can be a fantastic focal point to any room and should be something that takes center stage. BUT, we’ve been in enough older homes to know that a lot of times, that fireplace is anything but pretty! Ugly bright orange brick laid out in a displeasing grid and highlighted by too-white grout can be a real eyesore in an otherwise lovely room. So, what do you do? 

 Peel-and-Stick tiles update this fireplace surround.

Peel-and-Stick tiles update this fireplace surround.

Peel-and-Stick Tiles

In Annabel’s rendering above, she resurfaced the fireplace with a modern tile. BUT, she didn’t resurface it the hard way, which would involve a mason and quite a bit of money (although this is a way you can get rid of ugly brick). Nope. Instead, Annabel used peel-and-stick tiles to update her fireplace. This is a relatively inexpensive, and low-commitment way to add a new look to your traditional living room (and particularly appealing for renters!). Smart Tiles is one among many brands to check out. 

Paint

Of course the most common way to deal with that ugly orange brick is to simply paint it! Many people choose to go white, which definitely is light and airy and works with so many decor styles, but you could also consider going black for a touch of drama. Just be sure to use a paint that’s heat resistant and can withstand temps of about 200 degrees. 

 Painting ugly orange brick fireplace surround in either dramatic black, or clean, fresh white is an easy way to build a beautiful focal point into your room.

Painting ugly orange brick fireplace surround in either dramatic black, or clean, fresh white is an easy way to build a beautiful focal point into your room.

 The Light Fixtures

When you purchase an older home, you might just find that the original light fixtures are still in place. This actually can be an interesting piece of history. Typically when a home was first built, the original occupants were presented with a catalog of light fixtures from the builder, and they selected the matching set of fixtures to be installed in the home. From entry way pendant to dining room chandelier to wall sconces, each piece was from this matching set. 

 The dated entryway pendant in Jen’s entry HAS GOT TO GO!!!! Renovating this entry is definitely next on her home improvement list!

The dated entryway pendant in Jen’s entry HAS GOT TO GO!!!! Renovating this entry is definitely next on her home improvement list!

A surefire way to breathe new life into your home is to swap out these dated fixtures (a project Jen still needs to do in her entry way above!!). Light fixtures are like jewelry, and they can make or break both an outfit…and a room! In our Boho-ditional renderings this week, we both incorporated bold, modern fixtures into the rooms. These light fixtures really to some heavy lifting to unify the boho elements with the traditional elements in the designs. 

 Hmmm…Jen’s light fixture sure does look like it’s within head-striking distance here! But, that’s just the rendering talking—she wanted it to show up dramatically in the image!

Hmmm…Jen’s light fixture sure does look like it’s within head-striking distance here! But, that’s just the rendering talking—she wanted it to show up dramatically in the image!

Light Fixture Size

Scale
A word of advice when select light fixtures for your ceiling: SCALE! One way to figure this out for your room? 

First, let’s look at finding out the right size for a central light fixture for your living room—what diameter should you select? 

  1. Measure the width of the room in feet. 

  2. Now measure the length in feet.

  3. Add these two numbers together. Whatever that number is in feet, think of it in inches and that is (about) the diameter of the light fixture you should look for.

Sooooo, if you’re living room is 10’x12’ then look for a light fixture that’s approximately 22” in diameter. 

The Goldilocks way to think of it:

Baby Bear room: smaller than 10’x10’ room? Looks for fixtures between 17” and 20” in diameter.

Mama Bear room: a room that’s around 12’ x 12’? Look for fixtures between 22” and 27” in diameter. 

Papa Bear room: a room that’s around 14’ x 14’? Look for fixtures between 24” and 32” in diameter.

Lighting For your Dining Room

Here you’ll need to consider the size of your table. The size of the chandelier should be about one-half to two-thirds the width of the table. Really this is so that your guests don’t bump their heads when they get up from the table. In general though, if this isn’t possible, a touch bigger is better than too small when it comes to lighting over a dining room table. 

(And yes, Jen’s rendering does show the light fixture to be within the guests’ head-striking distance! But that’s because she wanted it to really stand out in the rendering).

Let’s Hear from You!

What are some ways you’ve updated elements in your traditional home? Have they worked? Do they feel authentic or do they feel like a mis-match with the architecture of the home? We’d love to hear in the comments below!