Should I Center Paint Stripes on the Walls?

Not all paint stripes need to be centered

Not all paint stripes need to be centered


Should vertical paint stripes be centered on the walls, or should I just let them fall wherever they may? What's the right way to position a stripe pattern? I can't seem to find the answer anywhere.


That's a great question!

And while many stripe patterns don't need to be centered (for example, narrow or random designs), there definitely are some situations where you should really consider the placement - because it can make or break the look:
  • when the focal wall or the first wall you see is very symmetrical (for instance, it has a fireplace or a large painting in the middle, equally spaced windows or furniture pieces, etc) - randomly placed stripes on such walls will often look like a mistake.

Wrong simple stripe placement on the wall

  • when the stripes (or the pattern repeat) are wide - they may look awkward if your furniture is centered in the middle of the wall, or lopsided in the corners.

    Note that the wider the stripe size and the higher the contrast in the color combination, the more pronounced any imbalance will seem.

Wrong complex stripe placement on the wall

So if the two examples above describe your situation, you'll want to start your stripes in the middle of the most important wall in the room.

Now, there are 2 ways to center stripes correctly - choose the one that looks best to your eye and works best in your room:
  • One method is to center one of the stripes in the pattern (this produces the most aesthetically pleasing and symmetrical result - a great idea for those who like traditional or structured looks)

  • The other option is to center the actual pattern repeat (this will look asymmetrical yet still balanced - it's best for those who like what the French may call a certain je ne sais quoi in home design, as if you make things work without even trying)

Here's how a simple stripe combination looks when centered by one of its stripes (method one) - notice how much cleaner and less busy the overall effect becomes, compared to the wrong placement:

Correct simple stripe placement on the wall

Of course, it looks like a no-brainer with simple (2-color, same width) stripe patterns, but the same principles work for complex (multi-color or multi-size) stripe combinations - again, see how the room looks more put-together and orderly this way:

Correct complex stripe placement on the wall

Here's how to center vertical stripes on a wall:

1) decide which stripe in the repeat will be centered (placing the widest or the most contrasting stripe in the middle will create a stronger symmetrical effect).

2) find and mark the horizontal center of the main wall.

3) measure and mark half the stripe's width on each side of the wall center line. Then continue as usual, laying out full stripe widths away from these starting marks.

If you want to center the repeat in a simple pattern, place one stripe on each side of the wall center line, then measure the stripes in full widths away from this center, marking each interval:

Acceptable simple stripe placement on the wall

For complex patterns, you can center the connection between any of the stripes in the combination:

Correct simple stripe placement on the wall

TIP: when continuing a stripe around a corner, check that the first line you snap or tape off is still plumb, and adjust if necessary.

Click here to ask your own question about painting stripes.

Leave a Comment:

Found it too late
by: Genie

Ours are wide and off-center and it looks terrible, like a mistake. I really notice it every time I'm in the room.

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