Stripes, like florals, geometrics, and plain fabrics, will always remain an absolute classic. When it comes to upholstering your furniture, choosing a great stripe pattern will help define your home, set the bar on your decor scheme, and structure your desired look. There are a million stripes to choose from, and stripes can also be used in combination with other patterns for an eclectic look. Knowing which striped pattern is best for your home is the secret to success if you want a striped sofa, chaise, or wingback chair.

Characteristics of Striped Upholstery Fabrics

There is a range of characteristics that need to be considered before choosing a striped pattern for your home. Consider the visual impact of the stripe size, the stripe colors, the stripe density, as well as the type of fabric used for the stripes.

Remember that each striped pattern will have a different feel—fun, formal, or traditional. The different types of stripes influence where you can use them and how to use them.

Different Types of Stripes

While there are many different types of stripes, some aren’t formally named. However, a couple of striped patterns to consider are (and this isn’t an exhaustive list at all):

  • Awning stripes (wide evenly spaced stripes)
  • Pinstripes (a thin stripe that is precise)
  • Barcode stripes (a variety of thick and thinner stripes)
  • Bengal stripes (like on men’s shirts, a 1/4 inch apart)
  • Chalk stripes (a broken stripe especially used on wooly fabrics)
  • Chevron stripes (jagged stripes that are made up of repeated zigzags)
  • Serpentine stripes (a wavy stripe that repeats for a mix of organic and geometric patterns)
  • Abstract stripes (any stripe pattern that is densely spaced on the fabric, creating a texture as well as a striped appearance)

Did You Know? Fabric that is striped across the width of the fabric (so from selvage to selvage) is called railroaded fabric. This means the fabric stripe is woven to create a vertical stripe from the top of the 54-inch width to the bottom. By weaving the pattern like this, it allows upholsterers to cover the length of a sofa without having to add seams or join fabric panels as the 54-inch width accommodates most furniture dimensions.

When to Use Striped Upholstery Fabric

Striped upholstery fabrics are ideal for furniture that could benefit from looking bigger or smaller. A narrow sofa can gain some stature and look bigger with a bigger print stripe. Likewise, if you have a large furniture item, covering it in a smaller abstract stripe will help decrease the size of the sofa on a visual level.

Stripes help delineate furniture boundaries. So, if you use a broad awning stripe perpendicular to a sofa’s armrest, you create a definite point where the furniture item stops, and the room continues. Turning the pattern to cover the armrest from the inside of the sofa to the outside will blur the line of the armrest and help the eye look around the rest of the room as your eye follows the broad lines out.

Striped upholstery brings a touch of formality, while it can also be quite whimsical, depending on the type of stripe and colors used. Certain furniture items lend themselves well to being upholstered in striped fabric. Dining room chairs are especially striking when upholstered in a great striped pattern.

How to Incorporate Stripes in Your Decor

As previously mentioned, dining room chairs and stripes are a great combination, and being brave can work really well as these furniture items are small in scale and don’t occupy much of the room’s overall visual weight. Why not combine small-size polka dots with medium-size stripes in matching colors for a show-stopper look?

If you are using upholstery fabric to create wallpaper, you can easily use a railroaded stripe to create a striped section beneath a dado rail. Striped fabric works well on lampshades and as a filler material when you have fabric-framed cupboard doors.

Cleaning and Care Recommendations

Cleaning your striped patterns is a matter of considering the type of fabric you have selected. Don’t try to clean polyester the way you would clean leather or cotton. However, when it comes to maintaining stripes, these rules are of the utmost importance:

  • Protect your stripes with a Teflon or Scotchgard coating
  • When dabbing at spills, work in the direction of the stripes as scrubbing across the stripe will dull the edges of the stripes by causing napping
  • After cleaning, brush the fabric with a soft brush in the direction of the stripes to restore the correct fabric tension and remove any distortions that may make the stripes appear uneven

Most Popular Striped Upholstery Fabric

Need help finding something specific?