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  • Writer's pictureNatalia Allende

This week on The Woof! The stripe: a jack of many trades with a history of its own

There are myriad ways of adding texture, depth and interest to a space but one of the most versatile ways is via stripes. Before we jump into some interesting examples of how this jack of many trades can be used to create an interesting interior design scheme, let me share with you what I discovered about them throughout history. Did you know that stripes have had quite the reputation throughout their journey in time? This post is a fresh take on the stripe offering a bit of its historical use and different ways you can incorporate it into you design scheme. Expect a bit of a photo dump today.


Today, we often think of stripes as a sign of casual elegance—think nautical-inspired outfits and Mediterranean lifestyle. But if we dig a little deeper, we’ll find that long ago--during the Medieval times--they were used to distinguish the riffraff and lowly. In his book The Devil’s Cloth: A History of Stripes, Michel Pastoureau describes how this design was used for inmates (yes, that’s how far back that outfit goes!!), prostitutes and the court jesters and musicians. In art, stripes were used to depict the devil, adulterous wives and disgraced knights.

After the Bubonic Plague some people came upon multiple inheritances within a short period of time, creating something like a new-rich class of young people who wanted, possibly, to distinguish themselves and stand out. So they incorporated stripes into their fashionable, tailored outfits.

And so, the stripe continued to evolve with different meanings and uses. From the 16th through the 18th centuries the stripe became a symbol of aristocracy, but during Romanticism, it was associated also with the boldness and passion of the American revolution.

1776 American Flag
Transcendental Graphics//Getty Images A precursor to Betsy Ross’s 1777 flag, this one featured stripes alone.

Today, this design element is incorporated into interior design in ways that are traditional or edgy, structured or fluid, simple or elaborate. They can add structure or movement, formality, rusticity or playfulness, warmth or brightness and so much more. They also help us trick the eye in order push our perception in a certain direction, most often upwards.


Let’s look at some examples of creative ways to use and think of stripes. From here on, I’m going to let the images, mostly, speak for themselves. I’m pretty sure they’re self-explanatory.

1.     Formal stripes

2. Edgy stripes

3. Fluid stripes

4. Playful stripes

5. Rustic stripes

6. Stripes made out of not stripes

7. Barely-there stripes

8. Bright stripes

Follow us on Instagram to get tips and ideas about decorating your home: @nataliaallendestudio. Invite your design loving friends to join this blog too!

Note: the images on this post were borrowed from many of my design heroes, such as Robert Kime, Kit Kemp, Ladybird Farm, Katie Saro, Beata Heuman, Pierce & Ward, Kelly Wearstler, Amy Studebaker, Gieves Anderson, among a few others.

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