The Power of Stripes

Adding stripes to your decor or space is an easy effortless way to add a bold punch to any room. Stripes tend to add drama to a room.  They have an almost architectural power to redirect the eye and reshape a space. They can be incorporated into any style or size of the room. They can be used in large doses or small, and they can work with just about anything. If you want to add some pattern to a room but you’re unsure of where to start, stripes are always a safe bet. Stripes are very striking, especially where there are no competing patterns.  In a bedroom, for example, bold blue-and-white striped sheets would be most effective when accompanied by white curtains and a white quilt.  Used sparingly, they are low-risk and very easy to incorporate into any type of room.

Traditional stripes can be used to create a casual-nautical look, adding crispness and polish. In general, a tone-on-tone take is softer than high-contrast colors.

Stripes are attention-getters

When there are too many parallel lines, vertical or horizontal, our visual system is upset. Stripes are rigid, forced, and not natural.  For example, if you have striped walls, solid furnishings would be recommended.  If you have striped throw pillows, add a couple of solids to break up the pattern.  The effect is cohesive, but it also gives your eyes a place to rest.

A vibrant red-and-white-stripe cotton (Fruit Punch by Lulu DK) enlivens a sunny breakfast nook in a Manhattan kitchen decorated by Brian J. McCarthy.

If you have a long narrow room, a striped run running the room’s width will create the illusion of a better-proportioned room, more gracious in width. This same rule applies to a wood floor in a narrow room. Laying floorboards widthwise will give the room better proportions.

A striped run running the room’s width will create the illusion of a better-proportioned room.

Striped patterns on walls add drama to entrance halls and powder rooms

Because of their rigidity and vertical strength, they are more distracting than soothing in rooms where you might want to read or admire the art on the walls. These are great spaces to use strong colors.  In spaces where people tend not to stay long, a stripe pattern does not become overwhelming.

In spaces where people tend not to stay long, a stripe pattern does not become overwhelming.

Consider the size of the room

The larger the room, the wider the stripes should be (when used on walls). Thin stripes can look too cluttered in a large room, while wide stripes in a small room would feel jarring.

Match the size of the stripes to the size of the room. In general, the larger the space, the wider wall stripes should be.

Stripes are the most obvious directional pattern

If you are using a stripe pattern on a bench, it can run vertically with the selvage on the left and right. If you choose to use the same stripe on a sofa, first study how the stripes will run.  You may decide it would be too busy with the stripes going in different directions.

Use less busy elements when designing with stripes that are bold, so they stand apart and tell their story.

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.

Using Stripes On Stairs

When using a striped carpet on stairs make sure the center line in the stripe lines up with the next step below. This is how a striped carpet should be set out, from the center of the carpet this way it will give the appearance of the stripes lining up when you look up or down the stairs.

When placed down the length of staircases, striped runners add just the right amount of energy and visual interest, all while offering protection from slips.