Design Tips on Creating or Highlighting a Focal Point in a Room

Decorative Pillows Interior Design

Highlighting one aspect of a room helps center a space and gives the eye something to notice first. This focal point is not meant to dominate a room; rather it provides context to the placement of design elements. Determining what will serve as the focal point and how to highlight it is not a straightforward process. Below, we provide tips on where to start in a room without a natural focal point, and how to manage a space with competing focal points.

How to Create a Focal Point in an Empty Space

You have a room with four bare walls – where do you start? Your design preferences for the space, as well as your budget help identify what your focal point will be. Determining the role of the room (bedroom? family room? dining room?) sets the basis for a functional furniture plan. Once that scheme is designed, the focal point is then based on what is logical. Potential focal points include:

  • Large walls: Add a colorful, high quality, well-framed, eye-catching piece of artwork or rich color to draw your eye to the area. Dark walls advance and light walls recede, so adding different colors can play with the perceived dimensions of a room.
  • Furniture: A large piece of furniture like a piano, armoire, or decorative bookcase can serve as a focal point for a room. These items can be challenging to fit within a functional design scheme, so make good planning a part of your process.
  • Groupings: A vignette of a furniture piece, artwork or mirror, lighting and accessories can serve as a lovely focal point. Make sure to place the collection on a wall that is most visible when you enter the room.
  • Architectural Elements: If your budget allows, you can add an architectural element, such as a fireplace, to create the natural focal point missing in an empty space.

How to Design Around Competing Focal Points

These days we tend to find that fireplaces and TVs fight each other for attention. They are both large, and both draw your eye the moment you enter a room. Many homeowners deal with this situation by hanging the TV above the fireplace. However, one must be careful to consider comfortable viewing as well as the affect on the TV by the heat created by the fireplace.

 Living Rooms

We have found a lovely way to allow these two focal points to coexist: we create two seating areas in one room. In the project pictured above, the side of the room with the fireplace gets its own scaled seating area, and the TV side gets one too. The homeowners choose which area to occupy that day depending upon what they want to do. We also find that multiple seating areas allow for more flexibility in a room. For example, smaller furniture can be moved out to accommodate seating for large dinner parties.

 Lakehouse Living Area view

Views also tend to compete with other aspects of a room. For example, in the project pictured above, our clients wanted to be able to enjoy their fireplace and their view at the same time. We solved this issue by creating a furniture plan that allowed for both. The seating area sits perpendicular to the fireplace, with low chairs along the windows. The homeowners can take advantage of their fireplace while enjoying their lovely lake view.

Understanding the functionality you need from a space will help you determine the best use of your manufactured or natural focal points. Furniture layout planning is the key to figuring out how to create that function while giving your space a design that makes sense to the eye. While placing a focal point in the most visible part of a space makes sense, creating a room that works for you and your family is the first priority.

What tips have you found useful in determining the focal point in a space? We’d love to hear about your experiences. Leave a comment, send us an email, or give us a call at 317.253.8986.

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