The other day I walked into my home after our cleaning service finished up— best investment ever by the way— to find a striped floor mat moved into our very neutral and soft-edged bedroom (picture 3). The rug is completely the wrong size for the space, but I was struck by how the small addition grounded the room which can tend to feel a little too mushy and sweet. After, flipping through my inspiration files, I noticed the theme running through some of my favorite interiors — neutral, casual spaces brought to life by a limited dose of stripes. Woven (pictures 2, 3, 4) and weathered (picture 1) stripes seem to work best if your aim is to preserve a sense of calm. However, even traditional bold black and white jailbird stripes can work when used sparingly, as on the cushions in Ellen O'Neill's studio apartment (picture 5).