Earning your interior stripes

Last updated 11:12 27/11/2012

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Stripes have always been a useful decorating tool and have never been 'out' per se - but now they are huge. Checks have returned too, but that's a whole other story.

It is a funny thing how furnishings cycle in and out of fashion. After blues and yellows featured strongly in the 80s we are all somewhat surprised at the splashy return of yellow. But we love it! And so it is with stripes.

And there are so many types of stripes being launched from brands all over the world, at all levels of the market. There's literally something to suit everyone's taste and budget.

I love vertically-striped curtains. They make the room feel gracious by adding a feeling of height. Wide stripes give strength, particularly in bold colours, whereas more tonal combinations are far more subtle. Be careful of horizontal stripes if your stud height is low, unless you want to emphasise this feature.

Drapery stripes can be printed or woven but some of the most glorious being launched right now are printed linens or woven silks with gorgeous embroidery detail. Colefax and Fowler have surpassed themselves with theirs. At home I have a fabulous printed ombré striped fabric hanging as curtains ('Nala' from Italian company Brochier). I love them.

Narrow ticking fabric looks more delicate, especially in fine voiles of cotton or linen. If you use these in bedrooms or casual living spaces they will add a softness and fragility. Or for more 'wow' factor, use
colour or a heavier weight fabric.

Silk striped curtains are the piece de resistance are silk striped curtains. Whether they feature delicate ribbon stripes in silk taffeta or handwoven ikats, the silk composition makes the striped effect come alive.

Stripes are wonderful for furniture upholstery too. Toile a Matelas (French for 'mattress cloth'), is known to us more commonly as 'ticking'. This has now become a generic word that implies a fine stripe on a light coloured background but historically it refers to a heavy woven fabric used to cover prickly straw mattresses and feather pillows. Of course now it looks fabulous as loose covers on sofas and chairs, curtains, duvet covers, valances and bed heads, heavy drapes, and cushions - the list is endless.

Another variation of ticking is asymmetrical stripes of linen or cotton, often with a herringbone weave which is just that little bit more sophisticated. Ticking was once considered a poor man's fabric and was therefore only used as cushion backings, underneath the cushions of a sofa or chair, or as the back upholstery of a Louis chair. But I love this look and think it adds a classic detail in today's world. Ticking also looks wonderful as a curtain lining, especially with a fan edge trim or some other detail on the leading edge of the curtain.

And let us not forget striped wallpaper - there are again so many to choose from. A fun look is to hang the wallpaper horizontally and then use a striped curtain.


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- © Fairfax NZ News


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