It's Possible To Use Stripes as a Neutral—Here's How

·4 min read
2021 Idea House Living Room with White Walls
2021 Idea House Living Room with White Walls

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 that 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.

Take Your Boldest Stripes Underfoot

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.

Porch: The Details
Porch: The Details

Pair with Other Patterns

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.

Wooden Desk with Blue Striped Chair
Wooden Desk with Blue Striped Chair

Bring in the Surroundings

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.

Library
Library

Go Traditional

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

China Cabinet with Striped Fabric
China Cabinet with Striped Fabric

Keep It Swappable

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.

Casual White Living Room in Lake House
Casual White Living Room in Lake House

Think Small

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.

White Dining Room with Pink Accents
White Dining Room with Pink Accents

Stay in the Family

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.

Boy's Bedroom
Boy's Bedroom

Layer the Texture

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.

2018 Idea House in Austin, Texas Girl's Bedroom
2018 Idea House in Austin, Texas Girl's Bedroom

Simmer Down

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 blend-able way.

2021 Idea House Living Room with White Walls
2021 Idea House Living Room with White Walls