Stripes can add surprise, vibrancy to a room

March 9, 2011 

Stripes can add surprise, vibrancy to a room

Stripes of any size and color deliver a strong decorative punch.

Who would think to paint a purple wall in an open-concept home and then add a series of bold stripes on one side? And this as a backdrop for a country-style, pure-white dining set? Not a combination that would pop into anyone's mind as a good idea. And even if you thought of it, would you actually do it? Buy the paint, add the stripes? It's a brave move.

But, wow, does it ever work. It’s punchy and fun, and has a slice of modern sophistication too. At first it’s a surprise, but a welcome one, and after some time passes, you simply love the color and grandeur of it all, and the fun.

Surprises in decorating are not very common. I love them; I admire anyone who can play with colors in an unusual yet pleasing manner. How delightful to walk into a room that you see every day and smile, or simply feel good. We all struggle to make our homes a pleasant respite from work, a space in which to unwind and be ourselves. It takes a little digging and flights of fancy to go that extra mile. If you are keen to enlarge your decorating repertoire, then here are a few ideas that have worked for me and the families whose homes I’ve transformed.

Stripes are the most versatile decor design I know. Stripes alter our perception of space; our eyes have a tendency to follow lines, so vertical stripes make a room appear taller, and horizontal stripes give the illusion of more space. Stripes can be anything, from classic pin stripes to whimsically jagged or fat bands. The color and width of the stripes are what sets the mood. For the subtlest impression, choose colors that are close, or try a shadow stripe. (This is achieved by alternating matte and high-gloss sheens of the same color.) For a bolder effect, try wide stripes with higher contrast, such as blue and white or raspberry and turquoise. Painting stripes is easy, but there is a certain amount of measuring, marking and taping that does take patience. To reword a helpful homily from my carpenter friends: Measure twice, paint once. The base coat will become one of the colored stripes. Next, measure and tape off the sections that you want to be the alternate color or shade. Always allow the base coat to dry for 24 hours, and use low-tack painter’s tape. When you have painted in the stripes, remove the tape carefully by pulling toward the wet paint.

Although I generally use paint to create striped patterns, in the purple dining room I produced on my show “All for One With Debbie Travis,” I applied 6-inch strips of vinyl wallpaper in hues of blue, dusty rose and gray. Ask a local signage store for vinyl available in different colors. Play with various sheens and textures to create a unique look. The stripe can be mottled by dabbing wet paint with a soft rag, or glossy by applying high-sheen varnish or glaze. For a dramatic appearance, try a golden metallic glaze. If you are truly adventurous, you can produce an embossed effect within each stripe by applying a thin coat of Venetian plaster over a stencil. Once the plaster is dry, seal with paint or glaze. Any of these patterns will enhance your room – stripes will take you any place you want to go.

Debbie Travis’ House to Home column is produced by Debbie Travis and Barbara Dingle. You can follow Debbie on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Debbie_Travis. Please e-mail your questions to house2home@debbietravis.com.

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