Q: My small entrance hall is a big bore. One way to brighten it up would be to hang a striped wallpaper. But I once lived in a house that had striped paper in the living room, and it made my eyes jump if I looked at it long enough.
A: Many striped wallpapers do indeed produce the uncomfortable effect you describe. The problem can usually be avoided by steering clear of sharply contrasted stripes in the same depth or value of color. For example, stripes of bright blue and red in similar widths and depths of colors will almost certainly prove annoying after a minute or two.
But even that may not be a problem in your situation. After all, an entrance hall is not usually a place for lingering. What's more, your instinct about stripes is right on the mark. They're often very effective in brightening up an entrance hall.
My specific suggestion in your case would be a striped pattern that's varied in band width and depth of colors, and that also contains a subtle design within the stripes themselves.
The photo provides an example. This especially interesting striped pattern is called "Faux Bois" (Imitation Woods), and it's made by Stroheim & Romann. It features a peach-and-rose stripe made to look like a wood grain. Alternating with it is a medium-width bottle green stripe with thin vertical borders done in burgundy.
Such a design is considerably more intricate -- and appealing, I think -- than a simple regimental stripe. It makes an elegant complement to either formal furnishings or rustic cherry wood pieces with a mellow finish.