Stripes add pattern, depth and interest to an interior design but when used incorrectly, they can be overkill, crooked or just plain unattractive. In truth, using stripes in interior design isn’t all that different from using stripes in the fashion world. Color, direction and width have a significant impact on how those stripes express themselves on their host.
Tips for Using Stripes to Energize Your Interior Design
With that in mind let’s talk about a few things to consider when using stripes in your interior spaces as well as a few tips on how to use them to their best advantage.
Know the effect your stripes will have. There is no doubt about it, your stripes are bound to cause a shake up of your interior space’s energy. Unless you go for a monochromatic palette with a very slight shade variation between stripes (common in a bedroom or formal living room space) your striped pattern will be energetic. This isn’t a bad thing, but it need to be considered. If you like the idea of stripes but aren’t sure how bold a statement you want to make, consider stripes using very subtle colors or use colors that are analogous on the color wheel, as the more subtle the shade variance, the more calm the overall effect will be.
Which direction should the stripes go? In some cases, you’ll be able to intuit whether or not a space will look better with vertical or horizontal stripes. In others, you may be stuck on the decision. Keep in mind that vertical stripes – especially in narrow widths – make a room seem taller and draw the eye upwards. Horizontal stripes, on the other hand, make a room appear wider and more spacious. Knowing which effect will enhance your room’s decor should determine which stripe direction is best.
Walls versus furnishings. Here’s a good one. If you’ve never worked with stripes in your interior before, I highly recommend you start with furnishings and see what you think before moving on to the walls. Not surprisingly, stripes on the walls – whether painted or papered – are a much bigger time and energy investment. A couch, chair, window treatments, art and other furnishings are much easier to re-sell, reupholster or simply give away or donate if you determine stripes aren’t for you after all.
Stripes on the walls. If you do opt for stripes on the walls, you will have two choices: paint or paper. In either case, I highly recommend you enlist the assistance of a professional unless you are practically a professional painter or wallpaper installer in your own right. I say this because there is one thing that ruins the effect of stylish stripes – when they’re crooked!
It’s not easy to get striped wallpaper to lay straight on your wall – and often, you will learn that it’s your walls that aren’t exactly plumb, making wallpaper application an even greater challenge. Similarly, tracing and taping perfectly straight lines and then painting meticulously enough to keep them smudge free is no easy feat. If stripes are going to be a more permanent feature in your life, I say go professional and make sure they’re done right the first time around.
Don’t be afraid to layer stripes and patterns. I think stripes make a great foundation for pattern layering. You have two colors to work with and now you can start looking for other patterns and textiles that share similar color families or contrast completely, adding further depth and interest to your interior landscape.