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How to use stripes and clean lines in contemporary interior design

You may think that stripes belong to nautical themes only, but – if used in the right way – stripes can add incredible visual impact, bringing an interior scheme right up to date. Here at RWD, we’ve used striped fabrics, wallpapers and paint effects in a wide variety of design projects and our clients have always been delighted with the results. The key thing to remember is that less is often more with stripes. Using them as an accent or as a subtle motif repeated throughout a project can create an edgy, contemporary vibe – as far removed from stripy sailor suits as you could imagine!

Black and white striped banquette seating in bay window with oval marble table and wishbone chairs by Roselind Wilson Design.

Add drama and energy

Stripes are a fantastic way to add instant energy to a room. As well as bringing a sense of drama to a space, their clean lines provide a structure which can then be enhanced with the addition of contrasting patterns and colours. Don’t be afraid to be bold with your choice of colour and type of stripe. Use them as a foundation or accent and then layer up the other elements of the room to create a beautifully balanced look.

Black and white striped banquette seating in the bay window draws the eye right to the end of this contemporary monochrome kitchen with marble surround fireplace and striking pendant light fixture.

Make a small room look larger

Stripes are the perfect choice for small rooms because they can create the illusion of space. Vertical stripes make ceilings look higher whereas the use of horizontal stripes can make a room look wider. For Holiday House London – a charity project showcasing the work of some of the UK’s most prestigious interior designers – we created a bedroom scheme called ‘Striped Night’ which featured bold, blue stripes reaching up and over the ceiling. This technique can really open up a space and it tied in perfectly with our vision of structure juxtaposed with playful design – all set against a backdrop of organic tones and textures. Stripes lay at the heart of the design aesthetic of this room, because as well as the vertical stripes we added horizontal green stripes which served to elongate the room and create a bold twist. We also paired different paint finishes on the stripes – both satin and gloss – to achieve a crisp, contemporary look.

Blue stripes run up and over the ceiling of this bedroom with a textured headboard that extends cross the full width of the room.
Blue and white vertical stripes on the built-in wardrobe doors contrast with the bright yellow and green of the joinery handle.

The magic of monochrome

There’s no doubt that black and white stripes are a design classic and in the master bathroom of our Fitzrovia project they take centre stage to great effect.

A black and white striped bathroom vanity with walk-in marble shower and aged brass sanitaryware.

The owner of this stylish pied-à-terre wanted his apartment to reflect his vibrant personality with bold colours, textures and a wow factor. For his bathroom we designed a striking vanity unit featuring wide stripes in two contrasting shades of grey. The dramatic bands of rich colour enlarge the proportions of this compact space, while the choice of horizontal stripes makes the vanity area appear wider to the eye. The drama of the stripes then escalates when paired with the natural markings of the beautiful Calacatta Oro marble which we used for the countertop, splashback and flooring. There is a sense of cohesion in this apartment as the striped element is continued on to the rug on the floor of the master bedroom and then on to the bold charcoal-striped joinery enclosing the study area.

A black and white striped bathroom vanity paired with a Calacatta Oro marble countertop and striking metal framer mirror.

Create clean, elegant lines

For our Bromptons project, the brief was to design a contemporary kitchen that would appeal to the client’s preference for timeless style and uncluttered spaces. We opted for clean lines and a streamlined style, which includes a soft colour palette and delicate accessories. The kitchen had to be bang up to date in terms of the latest technology which meant that it features the latest induction technology from Gaggenau as well as a Quooker instant hot water tap and an InSinkErator waste disposal system. The bespoke base units feature grained timber and the wall units are finished in a pale gloss lacquer. The white quartz worktop and the Palissandro Nuvolato marble splashback complete the refined look. The overall effect is one of functionality paired with a clean, contemporary aesthetic.

A bright contemporary kitchen with neutral colour palette, white cabinetry and window seat with small round light veneer table and two dining chairs.

3 Top tips on how to decorate with stripes

1) Start small

If you’ve never decorated with stripes before, start with a small space such as a powder room or WC. If you love it, you can then easily move onto other areas of the home. We’ve created stripy bathrooms, bedrooms and even striped kitchens in our time!

2) Combine with other materials

Mixing stripes with other patterns such as chevrons and zig zags creates a fresh, modern look and adds a fun element to an interior scheme. It also works well to layer the hard lines of stripes with contrasting materials and textures to soften the look.

3) Vary the width

Use stripes of different widths to create an edgy, modern style. Mixing different widths creates a playful element and works well in children’s bedrooms or in small spaces to give real impact.

Photography by Richard Waite

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