What is a focal point?
A focal point is the place in the room that immediately captures the eye. It can anything from a beautiful piece of architecture, a fireplace, or perhaps a bay window. Whatever it may be, it should be the defining feature of the room, and it should captivate the audience at the very first glance. Focal points are one of the most fundamental elements in interior design and are essential to designing a room. Mastering this step can make a tremendous difference in your home! Read on to find out how to create a focal point in any space.
Step 1: Define your focal point
In many cases, a room may already have a focal point built into it. This can make designing a room easier because all you have to do is highlight the preexisting feature. Here are some examples below.
- Fireplaces: Although the main function of a fireplace is to provide warmth, there is just something about a fireplace that naturally draws the eye and makes the hearth the heart of the home. That said, the fireplace can prove to be the perfect place in a room to create an unexpected focal point. Whether it be through a bold piece of art above the mantle or by adding an interesting surround there are many ways you can make a statement.
- Built-in Shelves: Often times, built-in shelves and fireplaces go hand-in-hand. Regardless if there’s a fireplace of not, built-ins are a beautiful way to add visual interest to a space. You can try things like painting them a moody color, or decorating with a carefully chosen collection of items that add contrast and dimension.
- Windows: Windows are an easy choice for a focal point, especially if you have a great view! Regardless of what’s in your space, there is nothing more beautiful than a stream of natural light pouring into a room. The best way to accentuate this kind of focal point is to just let the window be as lucent as possible. You can always add interesting moulding or other furniture around it to create an inviting vignette.
Create your own
In some cases, if there aren’t any preexisting features to highlight, consider making your own! This may take a little more time and effort on your part but don’t let that deter you. Here are some ideas to choose from.
- Artwork or Mirrors: A statement piece of artwork or mirror can easily be the star of a room. When picking artwork, consider using a bold painting or a grouping of items. Mirrors can be a strategic piece when used as focal points. Not only are they decorative and functional but they can make any room feel lighter and more open as they reflect light. One thing to consider – whether you choose artwork or mirrors as your focal point, just make sure the piece is big enough to suit the wall it is on.
- Feature Walls: How you choose to adorn your walls can tell a lot about a person, their aesthetic, and what’s important to them. Feature walls are a great way to personalize a space. Consider adding a unique wallpaper mural, or choosing a bold color to paint with. You can add personal touches like hanging guitars, wine racks, or other kinds of decor.
2. Highlight with furniture and decor
Once you’ve determined what the focal point will be, the next thing you want to think about is the surrounding furniture and layout. You want to make sure you’re arranging your pieces to highlight the focal point and not distract from it. Think about the flow of your room and make sure to orient your furniture around the focal point.
Remember also to use decor to your advantage here as well. For example, you may want to incorporate surrounding decor that centers in on the focal point while drawing out the room’s natural aesthetic. Incorporating surrounding decor is a great way to design around a focal point and bring the eye in.
3. Use strategic lighting
Never underestimate the power of lighting. Good lighting can completely transform a space from dark and dreary to warm and bright. It is also a great way to enhance the details of your focal point. You can use it to your advantage by adding picture lights over artwork, spot lights over a mantle, or a chandelier to draw the eye up. Lighting is an often underused interior design element, and when used intentionally, can instantly boost any room’s aesthetic.
What to avoid?
Clashing focal points
There is no fixed number of focal points you are allowed to have but you many want to keep in mind, too many focal points can easily clash. An exception would be if you are styling a larger, multifunctional room that can arrange for multiple focal points, but this is especially true when it comes to smaller rooms. Often times, if there are too many focal points competing for one’s attention, it can leave the eye with nowhere to “rest”. This can make a room feel cluttered and unbalanced, leaving you with a feeling of anxiousness – which is quite the contrary of what we want. I would suggest having a dominant focal point so that the eye has an obvious place to land on as it wanders the room. This will convey a sense of order and visual structure without feeling unkept.
Scale is basically an understanding of how the size of your objects relate to the other objects around it. When creating a focal point, you want to make sure you create synergy between all of your elements. It doesn’t take much for the eye to identify when something looks out of place or disproportionate. For example, let’s say you have lovely windows as your focal point. You wouldn’t want to dress them with curtains that are too small. Your eye would immediately notice the disproportions. Or if you have a smaller room, you wouldn’t want to purchase furniture so large that it that crowds the room. When objects are too large or small, you will easily notice. This can kill the whole mood of your space, making it feel “off” and uninviting. Understanding the scale of your room and decor can provide you with a sense of place, resulting in a natural rhythm and flow.
Designing a focal point is one of the most essential parts of interior design. Done well, a focal point will catch your eye immediately and create a harmonious feeling within its viewers. It can truly transform any room into a stunning piece of art. I hope you feel inspired to implement this design principle in your home!