It's Possible To Use Stripes As A Neutral—Here's How

The top tips for making this pattern work in any space.

2021 Idea House Living Room with White Walls
Photo: Marta Xochilt Perez; Styling: Page Mullins

There's no denying patterns can be intimidating, just like color. Sometimes it's easy for us to hold true to what we know, even though there's a whole world out there to explore. Truth be told, just getting started can be the hardest part. Introduce one color or pattern and suddenly it's easier to add another and another. Should we go gangbusters all in one space? Probably not, but the gingham you used in the playroom might inspire you to take on a more elegant tartan in the study, or even pull out the light blue found in the fabric and introduce it in the den, this time in the form of throw pillows.

One surefire way to allow multiple colors and patterns to play in your space is by calling on neutralizing techniques that help keep your bolder choices in check. Case in point, this striped inspiration was made to play nice. No matter your space, tolerance for bold décor choices, or affinity for linear patterns, there's something here that will most definitely strike the right chord with your space and preferences. Take a gander through our top tip-focused inspiration so you can make your stripes work with your existing décor—not against it.

01 of 09

Take Your Boldest Stripes Underfoot

Porch: The Details
Photo: Laurey W. Glenn

You can go bold, but keep in mind placement. If you want to keep a large-patterned stripe from overwhelming the space, consider placing it underfoot so it pops beneath furniture without becoming the focal point.

02 of 09

Pair with Other Patterns

Wooden Desk with Blue Striped Chair
Laurey W. Glenn

To keep your stripes from taking over, you don't necessarily have to hide them with neutrals. Bring in more patterns in complementary hues to simmer down the stripes and deliver a collected feel. This works particularly well when working with antiques and other pieces that pack a character punch.

03 of 09

Bring in the Surroundings

Photo: Laurey W. Glenn

Here, the color of the heart-pine walls is mirrored in the rug's stripes. The blue and ivory tones in the rug are found in accents throughout the room, downplaying the impact of the pattern while still allowing it to contribute in a meaningful way to the overall look and feel of the space.

04 of 09

Go Traditional

China Cabinet with Striped Fabric
Photo: Laurey W. Glenn

So you want a splash of pattern but love your neutrals? Bookshelves, cabinets, and more are prime real estate for bringing in a subtle stripe. Using a fabric rather than wallpaper creates a softer, more elegant feel which is a fitting choice to act as backdrop for your most precious collections

05 of 09

Keep It Swappable

Casual White Living Room in Lake House
Laurey W. Glenn; Styling: Matthew Gleason

There's an entry-level way of adding color to your space and it always revolves around swappable items. The reason is twofold. First, if the result doesn't quite stack up to your vision, they can be more easily swapped out than a custom-designed sofa (and usually with less financial implications). Second, they're typically smaller items that have a way of effortlessly blending into the surroundings. Pillows, throws, and other small textiles all fit the bill.

06 of 09

Think Small

White Dining Room with Pink Accents
Carmel Brantley; Styling: Matthew Gleason; Painting: Courtesy Corey Mason/Brintz Gallery

Ticking stripes, micro stripes, and other tight-patterned, linear looks can give the illusion of no pattern at all from afar, which can help it from overwhelming the space. Instead, these little details are often times only realized upon closer look.

07 of 09

Stay in the Family

Boy's Bedroom
This nautical room has the crispness of a blue blazer. A striped rug keeps it casual, the round mirror adds polish, and the bamboo bed imparts that hit of preppiness. Bunny says, "This room would work well for all ages." The designer recently added this and other beds to her Bunny Williams Home furniture line.. Photo: Laurey W. Glenn

Regardless of color, a stripe can take on a more neutral tone by playing with other patterns in the same color family. Even the big, bold stripe of the rug is kept in check with a chevron-printed quilt and upholstered bench at the foot of the bed.

08 of 09

Layer the Texture

2018 Idea House in Austin, Texas Girl's Bedroom
Photo: Hector Manuel Sanchez; Styling: Buffy Hargett Miller

Almost any element can feel overwhelming when your design is one dimensional. A surefire way to fix that is through weaving in different textures throughout your space. A shell-coated night table, sisal rug, and even spiky palm leaves all bring a multifaceted look that allows for each of the elements to play together without any one getting all the glory.

09 of 09

Simmer Down

2021 Idea House Living Room with White Walls
Marta Xochilt Perez; Styling: Page Mullins

If you're on the fence about incorporating patterns, let a subtle stripe persuade you. Both the neutral tone and the relatively small size of the piece compared to the size of the room keep the pattern playing in a distinctly blendable way.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles