Today let’s discuss using the often overlooked stripe fabric for upholstered pieces. Why don’t stripes get more attention in the fabric selection process? Well, one reason is that it is exceedingly hard for most people to envision a stripe on a piece of furniture when just looking at the swatch or a bolt of fabric. All that verticality...you start to get a bit wonky thinking the stripe will dominate and close in…jail cell mental image perhaps? But in smaller furniture pieces, like ottomans, stools, occasional chairs (not skirted), and pillows (especially!), stripes really add zip and tailored crispness. Especially paired with a bold wallpaper, like in this Thibaut photo I just received in my email. These striped stools really finish this beautiful entry space!
As another example, below is a fresh and inviting family room sporting several stripes, created by designer Garrison Hullinger in Portland, Oregon.
Stripes in a coastal décor is a classic look, but note how pretty and interesting the slender stripe looks on the wing chair…I love the way your eye goes to the mitered effect on the curve of the back of the chair (which has to be perfectly matched, naturally). The rug is a subtle and interesting stripe, with a different scale than the chair. This is such a calming interior that really could be anywhere, mountain cabin, coastal, suburban family room. For more inspiring interiors and stripes, here is a link to Garrison Hullinger’s Houzz site: https://www.houzz.com/pro/ghid/garrison-hullinger-interior-design-inc
Below is a fan-back chair from Chairish (https://www.chairish.com/) that demonstrates a very effective way of finding the exact two colors for a striped fabric in the exact dimension you seek…make it with two different fabrics. By the way, Chairish is a cool site that pairs sellers and buyers of vintage furniture and décor. This center-stripe technique is perfect for updating a cherished family chair to harmonize with a casual or transitional décor. I would caution you, though, about making the center stripe too narrow, less than 6”. I personally am not a fan of the look where at first glance, you think it’s an actual narrow ribbon running down the chair similar to at a museum that indicates “don’t you dare sit here!” Just saying…make the width of that center stripe scream “Yes, please do sit yourself down right here and stay awhile!” This chair from Chairish looks super inviting, like a big hug; and note that it is paired with a red and white Oriental carpet…nice!
As a designer and fabricator, I love to use stripes in creative ways on pillows. This summer I fashioned lots of pillows from remnants, experimenting with stripes on the diagonal and mitered effects.
Stripes on window treatments are a natural…whether in children’s rooms, coastal settings, or more formal spaces. Below is a drapery panel treatment I did in a home office, with the subtle striped silk “pleated to pattern” (see Blog post “Pleating to Pattern”, 6/25/2017). Below that photo is a closeup of the pleat which I stitched down to further emphasize the stripe colors.
So, when you decorate your home I encourage you to consider using the “simple stripe” in your next décor project. Used creatively and thoughtfully, a simple stripe becomes sublime. (Note to my readers…I don’t actually think I have ever used the term sublime in a blog before…more coffee on this cold fall morning, please!) Happy day to you all as you prepare for Thanksgiving next week.
Barbara Phillips, interior designer and owner of Center Stage Interior Designs, has delivered impeccable window treatments and design services to both residential and commercial clients in Massachusetts since 2001.