Whether traditional or unconventional, stripes—especially on walls and floors—promote order. They have an almost architectural power to redirect the eye and reshape a space. In smaller doses, like on furniture or accessories, they’re “the neutral of the pattern world,” says New York City interior designer Elaine Griffin, as they are low-risk and easy to incorporate into any type of room.
3 Expert Decorating Tricks
1. Use high-contrast stripes in unexpected spots. For powder rooms and foyers (spaces where people don’t linger), strong stripes can be charming. “I love a brilliant stripe in a closet,” says Darryl Carter, a designer in Washington, D.C. “It’s like the lining on a fine coat.”
2.Match the size of the stripes to the size of the room. In general, the larger the space, the wider wall stripes should be, because thin stripes in a big expanse can look like mere texture from far away. And in a small room broad, bold stripes can feel jarring.
3.Blend striped, floral, and solid accessories. A foolproof recipe for throw pillows: Put together three or four designs that are clearly distinct but share a palette. Try a wide stripe, a narrow stripe, a dainty paisley, and a solid. The effect is cohesive, with just enough randomness to feel homey.
2 of 23Lisa Romerein/Coastal Living
Stately and masculine, vertical stripes on walls or drapes create an illusion of height, making a low ceiling feel higher. If you are drawn to verticals but worry about the risk of treading into circus-tent territory, play it safe with muted tone-on-tone stripes—for example, a cream-and-beige combination, suggests Griffin.
3 of 23Laurey W. Glenn/Southern Living
Both hip and retro (a hallmark of Art Deco design), horizontal stripes on walls have an edgy, irreverent vibe. They can make a corridor feel longer, a ceiling lower (and cozier), and a room wider. They also add definition to oddly shaped spots, like the area under the stairs, making them seem more roomlike. In varied colors and widths, horizontal stripes can feel fresh and playful.
4 of 23Mark Lund
Clean-cut and tailored, classic stripes (those of a consistent, moderate width in two tones) are the room equivalent of a three-piece suit. On walls, their staunch nature makes formal furnishings feel right at home. On accessories, traditional stripes can be casual-nautical or strikingly graphic, adding crispness and polish. In general, a tone-on-tone take is softer than high-contrast colors.
5 of 23José Picayo
A striking sub for a standard overhead, and perfect for a kid’s room.
Lively and happy, multicolored stripes are a natural for kids’ spaces but can also work well in sophisticated neutral rooms. In a large swath, they can animate even the most understated scheme. Like art for the floor, rainbow stripes of varied widths mirror straight lines and balance out curves. Use the palette of the stripes to inspire your choice of room accents.
11 of 23José Picayo
You can restack this clever base for a custom pattern.
Consider leaning it on the mantel (rather than hanging it) to temper its intensity.
To buy: Unfortunately, this item is no longer available, but find a similar print at 20x200.com.
16 of 23José Picayo
A handcrafted piece that’s a tactile delight. But don’t be afraid to use it for popcorn.
To buy: Unfortunately, this item is no longer available, but find a similar bowl at heathceramics.com.
17 of 23Mark Lund
Zigzags, curves, broken lines—these renegade patterns represent the wild side of the stripe family, less structured but still ordered. Stimulating and energetic, they can tone down the seriousness of a traditional space or up the fun in a modern scheme. Because they create movement and energy, they have the effect of pulling you in—especially when used on floors.
18 of 23José Picayo
Stick a potted tropical tree inside for a Palm Beach feel.