Decorating with Stripes

Whether thick or thin, stripes have always been a staple in home design. Here are a handful of simple tips and tricks to give this pattern a spin of your own.

Stripes can make a room feel intimate or expansive, minimalist or collected, casual or refined. They can feel playful and modern, or classically sophisticated. There's truly no limit to the scope of what stripes can do for a space. So how do you narrow down the focus of this hugely versatile pattern? What can you do to make a striped fabric, paper or painted detail, or striped accessory lean toward one style and not another?

Contemporary Cool

striped walls

Searching for a foolproof equation to achieve a modern stripe? The secret is simple: a pure white stripe. Whether your accent is bright canary yellow, icy mint, or rich orchid, it will fit right in with your modern style simply by striping it with a thick white line. Neutral gray vertical stripes give the illusion of height in this cozy TV room. Allow the pattern to be the focal point by using only small pops of color here and there.

Take It Traditional

tan room

The key to a traditional stripe is layering. Because the pattern can feel crisp (and thus a touch contemporary) on its own, add in free flowing, rounded accents to counteract the streamline finish -- things like paisley, florals, or starbursts. Color also plays a big part in denoting a stripe as traditional in style. Think low contrast shades in a monochromatic palette. A light green beside a dark green will feel more traditional than the same light green against a crisp white. In this living room, wide horizontal stripes on the curtains pull darker tones from the accent pillows and light creams from the wall color and rug. Furniture with rounded edges, as well as the Jacobian print on the chair, keep the linear effect toeing the traditional line.

Beachside Minimalisim

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It's no secret that light colors and shades of blue feel more coastal than other shades on the wheel. To achieve a beach vibe in your own home, give a nod to the nautical stripe in thick, even lines, using cooler shades like mint, lavender, robin's-egg blue, or a gray with faint hints of aqua. Clear the visual clutter by using crisp white as a foundation. A thicker stripe against a coordinating white background gives the space just enough casual character.

Playing for Keeps

toy room

Happily, stripes feel right at home in a child's domain. To give it a playful edge, focus not only on variation in color, but also variation in scale. Think small stripes alongside thick ones, with medium in-between. Coupled with a broad range of colors, the pattern will fit right into a whimsical child's room.

About Carrie

Carrie Waller is the founder of Dream Green DIY, where she blogs about DIY, design, and life.

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