Stripe style: why lines should be your new design friend

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Line is one of the most important parts of interior design. The look of any room can be altered fundamentally by the way our eyes interpret what we see.

We've all seen those brainteasers where colour and shape can trick your mind into seeing things in a different way. But all spaces are affected by our perspective. Lines can change the way we perceive size or be used to draw the eye along to a focal point in a room. They can make a space look neat, with uniformity, or add texture and depth.

Using lines in your designs isn't easy, but having an idea of the sorts of effects lines can have is a great way to take your interior designs to a new level.

Vertical lines

stripe-style-why-lines-should-be-your-new-design-friend Vertical lines can emphasise the height of a room; think of pin-stripes used in clothes to elongate the figure. But the effect that vertical lines have, like any lines in a design, depends a lot on how thick the lines are, how strong they are and what colour they are.

Thick lines can have the effect of pillars; to emphasise stability and root the features of the room in place. Even broader lines can segment a room to separate different areas.

It's still important though, to think about the direction vertical lines guide the eye: up. While they can make a ceiling look high they might also be over-bearing, or make a room feel less cosy.

Horizontal lines

Horizontal lines are often already a part of the architecture and interior of a room: Skirting-boards and dado rails both provide horizontal lines which break up a wall. Shelving, especially for books, also acts as unintentional horizontal stripes across our walls.


Horizontal lines that extend down the length of a wall, such as in a corridor, can make a room look longer. When they extend across a wall they can make a room look wider. It follows that using horizontal lines can create a feeling of space, but this isn't always the case.

Normally in design, space is best created with blank white walls. So while horizontal stripes can make a room look longer or wider, the effect is relative. They can however, be great to emphasise a particular feature, such as to make a bed seem broader, but again it's important to think about the sorts of lines used.

Wavy lines

Curved or wavy lines are more dynamic than the simple geometric shapes created with horizontal or vertical lines. As a result they can be much harder to get right in your designs.

We know from brainteasers that numerous repeated wavy lines can give the impression of movement, which might not seem like the best idea for trying to make your lounge more relaxing. But that movement works on other levels. Curved lines are all about flow, and are frequently used to create harmonies to draw spaces together. Think about the natural flow of water and how that can draw the eye in infinite ways.

Line design

stripe-style-why-lines-should-be-your-new-design-friend_2 Whether they are wavy, to create a sense of motion, or vertical, to emphasise height and draw the eye up, different lines can have very different effects on a room.

Even when you don't have any intention to use lines to specifically change the feel of a room, it is worth getting an idea of how different lines have different effects. Bold, solid lines are a great design feature in their own right and have become incredibly popular in modern interiors, to create a clean aesthetic that really stands out.

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