How to design with Stripes?

The paradox of choice has always been a struggle for me with designing a room from the ground up. The choices are endless. But there is one style that seems to overcome the fickleness of trends: Stripes. Crisp, classic, and refined, stripes add that certain ‘something’ to your design. I find myself brewing over all the possibilities these lines add to a space either painted on the walls, dressing a seat or pillow, or fitted somewhere in a small space you wouldn’t expect. Of course, decorating with stripes can be tricky. It always helps to have a designer beside you to help you keep these lines clean.

Here are a few helpful tips to keep your home looking fresh with stripes.

Art deco meets modern in this chic yet sophisticated master bedroom.  Instead of painting these stripes on the walls, this designer installed battens on the walls for added texture. This also eliminates the daunting task of painting the stripes yourself.

Be creative with your stripes but realize the visual tension that occurs when using one band of color next to another.  Avoid using colors that clash. This does not mean keep your color palette boring, as you see here in this Kid’s room. The playroom is the perfect room to have fun with stripes and use bright and neutral tones to create a harmonious look.

This hand-painted vanity room has such a soft French touch with the wall covering in soft lavender and white. It is the perfect backdrop for the Jonathan Adler mirror and playful glass chandelier. Overall the design gives tribute to the old French style while incorporating a modern style.

Love this soft bedroom nook. Traditionally stripes are used to broaden a small space but these thick yellow stripes turn this space into an intimate cozy area. Love how the designer cornered off the daybed with curtains and a hanging chandelier.
Be intentional about which direction you want your stripes to run. For instance, these long nautical navy stripes give length to this small hall space. By wrapping the stripes around the corners it gives the hallway some personality.
Counteract striped walls or funiture with several less busy design elements. This will give your eyes a rest from the “excitement” of the stripes. What makes these vertical stripes work is the subtle curtains and simple palette with accents of black and green.
I love how the upholstered couch lines up with the wall covering here. A good tip: Break up the stripes with large eye catching pieces like this sunburst mirror. The continuing stripes in the chair adds fluidity in the room while the accessories prevent it from looking too matchy-matchy.
Even more coordinated is this wall and chair relationship. It’s elegant AND knitchy.

Yes, some may say stripes may not be a daring or bold choice when it comes to pattern, especially since you can find it splattered all over every Pottery Barn or Restoration Hardware magazine. But there isn’t anything quite as peaceful and refines as soft gray and white stripe. Here’s a look at how stripes dress up the seats of the house.

The yellow, gray, and white color palette is lovely in this traditional setting. The fact remains, stripes are a very classic pattern and work well with a pair of chairs.  But too much of a strong pattern can overpower a room so try and keep your upholstered stripes simple.

Love the casual feel of this living room. The rustic brown and white stripes has a very Cape Cod cottage feel along with weathered wood mirror and sun like chandelier.
What a fun idea for your vanity or kids room. You can find these “Ooh La La Armchair” chairs at PBTeen.

Including just a hint of these clean stripes in an unexpected area, like a closet or a niche space, to make a statement. This gives you an opportunity to add some whimsy and mystery about your house.

Another great example of an unexpected place to paint stripes. These large think stripes have such a bold presence as they fan out onto the door and into the next room.

Typically, a drapery panel is generally made from fabric that has vertically-oriented stripes to draw the eye up, and create the illusion of more height in the room. But if your space already has existing high ceiling, then its a perfect opportunity to break the rules. The design here was risky but earnestly paid off with black diagonal stripes contrasting with the coral horizontal lines on the walls. What makes this look work? The consistency in the width of the stripe and the zig-zag of the curtains.

Blend in drapes with the walls by mimicking the stripes of the wall with custom curtains. Sometimes all a room need is one single stripe to add sophistication.

Absolutely LOVE these sparkling tile stripes. Instead of adding the stripes with color or fabric, these mosaic stripes add texture to the bathroom walls, and a lot of femininity and luxury.

Striped rugs are the practical choice for the modern home but here the designer accentuated the outdoor patio by alternating bands of blue and white.

Stripes are a great way to draw your eye around the room. This brightly colored runner guides your eye up the stairs and brings a level of interest to something typically overlooked.

How to Emphasize Architectural Details using Support Beams?

While finishing up one of my largest project in Connecticut, I remember noticing how unexpectedly smooth everything was going. The home-owner found a beautiful piece of land out in the woods with an easy tear-down assignment. It was a smooth operation for months until we received a visit from the architects structural engineer. He was a slender looking man with a distressed expression. To pass inspection, he required a large steel column . This was an eye opener.  The needed support was smack in the middle of the room but soon enough concern melted into anticipation for this new challenge. Decades later, I meander through my portfolio and find many cases where the support beam was crucial in the structure and design.

The project I was referring too…framing the post added to the lines of the kitchen while the installation of the pot holder gave it functionality.

Another Kitchen that utilizes the beams and adds a different decorative style. The design fashions a island/bar table around the column, cutting the surface area in half and then integrating texture with stone tiles and plaster..


I finished this NYC condo with natural wood beams that make quite a statement. With such grand windows letting in magnificent light, it was best to keep the floor plan open so that light hit every room. These large wood beams made that possible!

Love these unique tree trunk beams!  Although Glulam, which is a versatile laminated timber, is stronger and used in most bare wood beams these natural wood trunks are thick enough to do the job and are very engaging.

Steel connections make for strong impressions. These steel/wood beams make it hard not to appreciate modern architecture. Love the black mate finish on the metal and how it accents the beautifully stained wood.

This subtle beam is enhanced with crown and base molding as well as custom paneling. I think it gives the beam importance. This was another project in CT that required a lot of exposed beams due to the size of the house. I like how it separates the room without blocking the space.

As a designer I approach each beam with an open mind. These columns have so much versatility, the options seem endless. For example, beams come in all different sizes.  From slender and sleek…..

…to thick and bold!

LOVE LOVE LOVE this support beam! Notice the fabulous detail on top, looking very traditional with the Doric or Ionic motif. Also find respect in the attention to materials – the aged refurbished wood with the cast iron poll…very admirable.

Lucky to have come across this picture online. They are the perfect example of how these support structures can be transformed into works of art.

Don’t forget your outdoor space!  Painting the  windows, swinging bench and column the same color creates a very private and nook-like space. The hardware you see resting along the side it meant for a flag poll.

How to decorate using Floating Shelves?

Clean, Sophisticated, and Minimal are three excellent words to describe Floating Shelves. These utilitarian pieces are perfect for a varity of reasons. Are you a noncommittal home-owner that loves to redesign often? Floating Shelves are easy to relocate and is another alternative to hanging photo galleries that are detrimental to your walls. Want to remove all the clutter from your table tops? These shelves turn your souvenirs and small framed photos into a beautifully arranged display. Is your space too small to store all your life’s possessions? Again, these floating shelves come in handy when you need to make extra space out of nothing. Here is array of examples where Floating Shelves is the best option.

Flaoting Shelves can be used as decoration or functionality.  This Kitchen uses think longer shelves as storage/display space. I love the open look to organize your glass-ware and plate-ware. And it has a very organic feel.

These longer floating shelves are also used in this home office. Used for decorative and functionality, these larger shelves really utilize the space you have to its best ability. Fill the shelf with office supplies or inspirational gadgets.

LOVE this decorative idea by installing the shelves much higher on the wall.  Struggling with storage space in NYC is all to real to those who live here, but it doesn’t always have to be such an upset. By placing floating shelves high up on your walls, it acts as a contemporary storage space for your things.

Again, the designer positioned these shelves higher up on the walls. This concept lets the home-owner add larger framed pictures into the room without puncturing your walls over and over again. Notice how painting the shelves the same color hides them a bit and really lets the pictures stand out.

This designer took the opposite approach in this San Francisco home by picking a color that really stands out and placing complimentary colored objects on top. Not only is this functional but it is very art deco, and Nautical! Another impression to note is the thickness of these shelves. Typically their thickness must be 2″ – 3″ thick in order to hide the bracket system. But of course you can customize them however you like.  Don’t forget to make sure they are properly secured so they do not sag off the wall!

The flexibility of the floating shelves is really what makes them so magical. Each shelf can be custom made to fit those more difficult spaces, take this bathroom for example. By installing floating shelves on the smaller wall, you are able to store hand towels and soaps within arms reach of the tub!

Step in up a notch with these state of the art floating shelves/ light fixtures. The florescence of the the bottom light really lets you display some of your favorite pieces in the house.

Found this kitchen installation of be mesmerizing. The designer used a super modern, yet organic approach with natural dark tones in the shelves paralleling the stone back-splash. Very cool.

This bedroom does not include Floating Shelves but sure is floating on the edge of spectacular. The idea of floating shelves really does open your mind up to endless possibilities.