Fifi O’Neill is just as eclectic as she sounds. Born and raised in Paris, the widely traveled stylist, writer and author has been immersed in all things home and design for decades. In addition to writing for publications all over the world — from Romantisch Leben to Decorare Casa — she also started nearly a dozen shelter magazines, including Romantic Country, Tuscan Home and French Country Style.
Best known for her Prairie Style books (“Romantic Prairie Style,” “The Romantic Prairie Style Cookbook” and “Prairie Style Weddings”), O’Neill is branching out yet again with her latest book, “Global Bohemian,” about a trending, freewheeling style.
O’Neill will be in town to sign books at the biannual Junk Bonanza vintage shopping event next weekend (April 11-13) in Shakopee. We talked to her about style dictates, knockoffs and the only decor style she can’t stand.
Q: Is it true that you sort of fell into photo styling?
A: I was on assignment for the Sarasota paper’s monthly style magazine, and the photo stylist never showed up. That was 20, maybe 30 years ago. After that, I started styling for local magazines, then national and international magazines. I was editor in chief of Romantic Country, then I started 11 other magazines.
Q: So it wasn’t a big jump to books, then.
A: No. I published the “Romantic Prairie Style” in 2011, then another book every year or two after that. Last year, I did a book, “Rescue Me,” about rescue animals. So far, it’s raised $25,000 to donate to 200 shelters.
Q: What inspired your latest book?
A: I was doing a magazine called Boho Style. It was very successful and fun to do because the look is so flexible.
Q: How did that segue into global bohemian?
A: It’s a style that embraces a multitude of cultures, which is very fitting for today’s more diverse world. It’s personal, flexible, affordable. It’s an amalgam of styles. It’s a way to open your eyes to the world.
Q: How is it different from the bohemian look?
A: It has some of the elements of boho — lots of plants, colorful, textures, accessories. But what I like is the softer side of boho, with earthy, muted palettes.
Q: Global bohemian seems to emphasize patterns and accents from around the world. Is that part of the look?
A: Yes, but you don’t have to go to Mexico or Africa. You can shop Anthropologie or T.J. Maxx or HomeGoods. You can also work in vintage pieces and flea-market finds.
Q: So you’re not against reproductions?
A: I don’t have to have the original of anything. It’s the look I’m after. I don’t want to live in a museum. Besides, I try to stay within a really affordable realm. It’s nearly always been my focus.
Q: Are there guiding principles behind the look?
A: There are no rules. That’s the beauty of it. It’s about being allowed to do all the things you like without being restricted by convention. Some people want to express their heritage or their culture, some people their artistic talents.
Q: So how do you know global bohemian when you see it?
A: When you walk in, you feel that this is a unique space, not a cookie-cutter. Also, because it’s not done by a designer, it has so much more personality. It’s really about creating an interior you’re comfortable in, one you love to come home to.
Q: What do you hope readers take away from your book?
A: I hope the book gives people confidence to try something. To see something and say ‘I can see doing that.’ To follow their instincts. If you want to paint a wall purple, paint it purple. If you don’t like it, just redo it.
Q: How would you describe the style of your Florida home?
A: My house used to be what was called shabby chic. (It really wasn’t, but that’s what they called it.) Then it was very French country. Then it was very boho. But that will change. I get bored.
Q: Over the years, you’ve worked with a range of styles. Is there one style you didn’t like?
A: I never could stand Victorian. It’s so heavy, so dark and foreboding.