The do's and don'ts of decorating your home with stripes

The do's and don'ts of decorating your home with stripes

Stripes are a deceptively versatile tool in your design armoury, establishing your colour palette, providing some clever visual effects to widen or elongate a room, and adding a touch of visual interest to a space. And whilst they require a bit more consideration than a more subtle floral for instance, they can make a bigger design statement.

To settle a few design queries on how to use stripes in the home, here are some essential starting points:

Below, we run through various way of using stripes successfully around your home, plus a few of our favourite striped homeware and furniture to get started on a small scale.

Striped wallpaper is a popular design feature because it is so effective at making ceilings look higher.

It usually pays to use a detailed stripe in wallpaper – much like this Oxford Stripe design from Ian Mankin – that features stripes of different weights or even colours. A whole wall of fine pinstripes can be overwhelming to the eye, whilst an abundance of big and bold stripes is a little too reminiscent of a stick of rock or a fairground carousel. A mix of the two makes for a happier medium.

For the bold decorator, mixing stripes with contrasting patterns is a little easier to pull off than you might imagine. We'd usually recommend using a soft pattern without any harsh geometric edges – florals or botanicals are a great choice – in a matching colour. Here, the cheerful blue in Cole & Son's Polo Stripe wallpaper is matched in the tropical walls, but a white would work just as well.

If an all-over stripe is a bit intimidating, weave stripes into your furniture and accessories instead.

For a striped sofa, it is the colour that will make the biggest impact. A blue and white striped sofa is immediately nautical, whereas a candyfloss floss pink and white has an element of whimsy. Consider too that stripes are most often used on more traditional styles – on sofas with plump rolled arms and high backs, or wingback dining chairs with upholstered seats, rather than anything sleek or contemporary.

Striped homeware is having a bit of a moment thanks to the proliferation of vintage marketplaces. You can find big candy-striped cushions with frills, and hand-painted table lamps with striped lampshades.

Using stripes on your floors can be seen as more of a design tool than a style statement. Much in the way that striped wallpaper will make your ceilings look higher, a striped carpet will make a room appear wider or longer depending on placement.

The key to making striped carpets work is a sensitivity to colour combinations. With a striped carpet, your entire room can be styled from the floor up, picking up tones and working them into your broader design scheme.

On a smaller scale, striped runners are a very efficient way to alter perspectives in your home, adding the allusion of extra depth or space. A clever design effect is to lay a runner in front of a window or French doors to create a visual tunnel towards the views beyond.

Ambience is a priority in a bedroom, so unless you have a particularly cramped space that could benefit from some clever optical tricks with striped wallpaper or flooring, use stripes sparingly.

We’re a fan of Weaver Green’s selection of striped soft furnishings that use muted colours so as not to appear overwhelming. They have matching sets of cushions and throws to mimic the effect shown here.

And this clever striped and framed headboard can be replicated in your own home. For something a bit easier to execute, hang ticking fabric from a curtain pole behind your bed to create an extra high headboard (see how it's done in this wonderful floral bedroom.)

Stripes in the garden is reminiscent of a country fair or British seaside resort, which is reason enough to use them. There are plenty of brilliant striped parasols out there in sugary pinks and blues – we love this olive green version from Rose & Grey – as well as plenty of striped outdoor cushions and deck chairs.

There are really no rules to using stripes in your garden, just consider the scale of your stripes in this instance – your large parasols and gazebos can take wide stripes, smaller chairs, cushions, and outdoor rugs do better with slim stripes.

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