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Do Vertical Stripes on a Wall Make the Room Look Smaller?

Veritcal stripes appear to elongate walls.
Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images

Design-savvy decorators who want to make a room seem smaller or larger typically have a few tricks up their sleeves. Whether its painting vertical or horizontal stripes, plaid, paisley or floral patterns, or choosing between warm and cool colors, there are several ways to fool the eye regarding the size of a room. Depending on the effect you're trying to achieve, vertical stripes might be the way to go.

Effects of Stripes

Vertical stripes, whether wide or narrow, tend to make a wall look longer and taller. Painting vertical stripes or using vertically striped wallpaper is a trick used by home decorators to add height to a room by drawing guests' eyes up toward the ceiling. Horizontal stripes are used in a similar fashion; whether wide or narrow, stripes going across a wall make the wall appear wider than it really is. The tactics cancel each other out if used together; painting horizontal and vertical stripes on the same wall results in a plaid pattern that makes the wall appear busy and crowded.

Painting Vertical Stripes

Painting vertical stripes on the wall is a two-step process. Tape around the edges and fixtures on the wall first, and then paint your base color. Allow it at least 24 hours to dry. When you're sure the wall is dry, tape off your vertical stripes; use a ruler or tape measure to make sure your lines are straight and equally spaced. Paint your vertical stripes inside the taped parameters. Allow the paint another 24 hours to dry before removing the tape. Choose a base color that is darker than the stripes to add depth to the room.

Make the Room Look Smaller

If you want your room to appear smaller than it is, don't paint vertical stripes on the wall or use vertically striped wall paper. Choose patterns and prints instead; they will make the wall seem smaller and more crowded. Use warm colors such as red, orange and bright yellow to give the walls a cozy effect. If you must paint stripes, make the base color brighter than the striped color; it will seem as if the stripes are being pushed out from the wall.

Make the Room Look Bigger

If you want your room to appear bigger, paint vertical stripes. Use cool colors, such as green, blue and purple, that appear to recede from view. Make the base color a darker shade than the striped color, and paint wide stripes that appear to add height as well as width to the room. To add depth and texture, paint stripes on only one or two of the four walls in the room.

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