Recently, I have been seeing many nods to the Boho (short for Bohemian) style in home decor. This style seems to go well with the mid-century modern esthetic that is showing up everywhere from decorating shows to popular home retailers. And while I’m all for enjoying the various trends that come and go, the Boho trend is one that, based on how long it lasted the last time it was in fashion, won’t be around too long. Boho incorporates hanging plants, low slung almost Scandinavian style furnishings, shaggy rugs, pottery, and wooden accents.
Since I lived through the previous Boho phase, I am certainly not going to purchase low slung chairs and start hanging macrame planters all over my house. So as I do with most trends, I try to pick a few low cost ways to incorporate them into my decor in small and subtle ways. A pillow here, a basket there; more of a nod than a full throttle redecorating project. With that thought in mind, I decided to make something that I could use to embrace Boho for a while, but won’t feel bad when it goes to the donation bin in a year or two.
One of the Boho items I have seen used often are wood bead garlands. They are hanging out of bowls, draped on Christmas trees, swagged on mantels, and styled on open books. Clearly they are the accessory of the moment, but they do not come cheap. I love Pottery Barn in the best possible way. Their catalogs provide me with inspiration and eye candy to last for days. But when I saw these wood beaded garlands on their site, I just about choked at the $99 price tag. Cute, yes, but not at that price.
Then one day my husband was cleaning out the garage and came in with a bag of these wooden dowel toppers he had used when his civic organization made flags for the cemetery for Memorial Day. He said “do you have any use for these?” and I immediately knew that these could create a DIY wood beaded garland, at almost no cost! The only problem was that these wooden dowel toppers only had a hole at one end, making them unable to run a rope through. My husband to the rescue, as he hand drilled 50 of these to accommodate the twine I was using to thread them.
The next step was to stain some of them darker. I know many of the garlands for sale are all one color, but I knew I wanted them to be half and half. Using some poly walnut stain we had on hand, I place about half of the wooden beads in a zip lock bag with the stain and shook them around. Once they were coated, I placed them on a paper towel to dry. This method left a lighter line down the middle from me rolling them on the paper towel, but I actually embraced that quirk and think it looks even more interesting.
The next step was to lay out a pattern. Because I had dyed less beads than I had left blank, I ended up using every other one for three sets, then two light colored beads, and then back to the pattern, and so on. You would have to look very close to see the pattern, but it made the beads come out even and it looks great.
Lastly, I wanted to add a tassel to each end, copying some of the styles in the catalogs. To do this, I just wrapped the twine around my hand several times, forming a large loop. Then I tied off one end and cut the other end. Finally, I tied a knot around the top and fastened it to the end of the bead garland.
Voila! I had a somewhat similar imitation of the $99 Pottery Barn wood beaded garland, using items we happened to have on hand. If you aren’t lucky enough to find a bag of wooden dowel caps laying around, they are available at home improvement stores or online. And although I used twine that I already had, the concept could also be achieved using rope or ribbon or raffia.
I styled my wood beaded garland a couple of different ways, both in a basket in the dining room and in a wooden bowl with pinecones and artichokes on the kitchen counter. In both places, it adds a certain something and just the small amount of Boho that I wanted.
I like to call my personal decorating style “traditional with a twist.” The twist comes in keeping things fresh and current by bringing items that are trending into the mix, while maintaining an overall traditional home. Sometimes I see an item that is on-trend in home decor, and I know it will provide just the twist I’m looking for. That was the case with the wooden bead garlands. It is especially nice when I can “get the look for less” and challenge myself to make it. In my experience, the handmade items may not look quite as nice as their expensive cousins, but they are still the most rewarding of all.