The focal point is a crucial element of interior design, one that draws your attention and highlights the most interesting architectural features of a room. When you imagine the room without the furniture, the element that naturally attracts your gaze would be a natural focal point.
One of the most common natural focal points in a room is a window with a view, a exotic vanity, a mirror, or a fireplace. However, focal points can be created easily as well. In this article, we will go through the art of creating the perfect focal point in any room of the house, as well as the basic design principles that make up this vital interior design element.
The very first steps
The best way to start is to either empty the room of most of its elements or to try to imagine it as empty. When you step into the room, where does your eye wander first? Ideally, that would be a built-in element, and in that case, you have your work cut out for you. Highlight this feature and make it the center of attention.
If you need to create your own focal point, we will discuss the best ways to do so in the next section. Either way, the rule of thumb for both types of focal points is to let them stay in focus. Choose the other design elements so that they don’t steal their spotlight, figuratively–and literally. The focal point must be well-lit or accentuated with its source of light (for example, a cozy reading nook should have its own, warm lighting).
Views and windows
Whether we’re talking about a window or a balcony door, these elements are among the most natural focal points in any room. While you can accentuate them with curtains or plants, make sure not to block the view. Set up your furniture so that you can see through the windows or doors and orient your furniture so that it doesn’t interrupt the line of view. It will also make the room feel lighter, less cluttered, and more spacious.
Vaulted, sloped, and tray ceilings
As we are quite accustomed to seeing standard, flat ceilings, any change to that will likely grab our attention. Depending on the type of ceiling you have, you can do different things. Emphasize a vaulted or tray ceiling with accent lighting or create contrast with texture and color. A sloped ceiling can serve as a guide to a room’s layout or even its style. So instead of trying to minimize the ceiling’s distinct shape, use it to your advantage.
The amount of coziness a fireplace adds to the room cannot be overstated. It’s a natural focal point and a natural place to gather around. It won’t need much help in becoming a great focal point, as all you need to do is emphasize it with artwork, an accent wall behind it, or the layout of your furniture.
Common choices for creating focal points
Sometimes the built-in elements don’t give you much to work with. In those cases, you need to create your focal point. But don’t worry! It sounds more difficult than it really is.
Think about the purpose of the room and decide the position of the focal point accordingly. If it’s the kitchen, for example, you might want to draw the attention to the stove and the working surfaces. What do you see as soon as you enter the room? The wall opposite the door can be a great idea for a focal point. Remember, the whole idea of the focal point is to focus your attention and be appealing, so go for something that makes you feel good.
If you’re looking for a starting point, here are some commonly found focal points which are not based on a built-in feature:
Opt for a single piece of artwork or an entire gallery wall, and you’ve got yourself a focal point. Take care to find the right proportions, so that the artwork isn’t too big (or too small) for the room. Don’t be shy about it and install a lighting fixture that is guaranteed to make it pop. Best of all, you can experiment frequently with different pieces and placements to freshen up your place every so often.
In rooms where the purpose is built around the furniture, like the bedroom, or the bathroom, you can simply use the furniture as a focal point. Concentrate accessories around the bed, like posters or artwork. In the bathroom, for example, you can choose a visually appealing vanity to serve as a focal point. Add eye-catching accessories or plants to draw more attention to the focal point. Finally, use lighting to focus the attention even more.
An accent wall is one of the simplest and yet, most effective ways to build a focal point. Choose the wall opposite the door so that it is the first thing you see when you come in. To create an accent wall, you can experiment with color and texture. One of the simplest solutions is getting a wallpaper or a photo wallpaper, or painting the wall in a bold color.
When it comes to the bathroom or the kitchen, you can use a backsplash as a focal point. Different tile combinations, or colorful tiles, or just a calming, orderly pattern can serve the double purpose–a practical one and an esthetic one.
Different rooms–different focal points
Focal points vary from room to room and there are some time-tested solutions for each of them. Let’s dive into all the different ways you can create the perfect focal point in every room of the house.
First impressions matter! Do the walk-in test here and note what it is that you see first. Follow your line of sight and add a piece of art, a mirror, a houseplant, a statement piece of hallway furniture, or interesting lighting.
Also, don’t forget the front door! Wreaths and decorations, as well as plants on the steps, can create a welcoming atmosphere even before someone steps into your home. This way, your home will look more inviting and more personalized.
In the living room, you should focus on function. What do you do most in the living room? For example, if you like to read in the living room, you can use a large bookshelf as your focal point. If you like to play games or watch TV, use the TV as a guide to where the attention is focused.
For most living rooms, the TV is the focal point. it’s a very useful starting point, as people focus most of their attention on it. You can add an accent wall behind the TV, or put an appealing console, as well as artwork underneath. However since it is the focal point, don’t overdo it and overshadow the focal point with too much shelving or accessories around it.
Another common focal point in the living room is the fireplace. If you have one, arranging the focal point will be easy. Make sure that your furniture is facing the fireplace. Also, add accessories around the fireplace, on the mantle, or the wall behind it.
Some arrangements include a combination of the TV and the fireplace on the same wall. While this is not suitable for all rooms, it can be very effective if you match the styles well. If you have neither, then your focal point can be an interesting coffee table with artwork or houseplants on it, or an accent wall with a personal touch.
The dining room is usually centered around the dining table. Again, walk into the room and notice what you see first. If you see the head of the table, make that the focus of the room. Add interesting lighting above it, or decorations such as candles, flowers or artwork.
If you enter the room and see the side of the table, then your focal point should be right behind it. If there is a window, frame it with curtains or plants. If what you see opposite the entry point is just a wall, then you can create an accent wall with wallpaper, bold colors, artwork, or a gallery of family photos.
One of the best ways to create a focal point in the kitchen is to create a practical backsplash with a soothing pattern, or bold and vivid tiles. Another common focal point in the kitchen is the stove. If you can combine the stove with a built-in focal point, that will give your kitchen a calming, simple quality. For example, having your work surface or stove underneath a window ensures that your focus is in one place.
Another common focal point in the kitchen is the range hood, as it is usually made of a different material than the rest of the kitchen. Find something that looks good with the rest of the elements and enjoy having a lovely focal point.
Dining space in the kitchen
Many apartments and houses have one room for cooking and dining. This room will inevitably have two focal points, however, that can be used as a guide for a better arrangement of furniture and a more clear-cut separation of space. Having a bar that separates these two spaces is one option in small apartments, however, sometimes it can make the room feel cramped.
You can demarcate the space by focusing more on one point, like the dining table or the stove. It’s completely alright to have two focal points in one room, as long as they are further away from each other. However, make sure that one is always the center of attention.
Bedrooms usually have a clearly defined focal point–the bed. This makes your job easier, as you can focus your creativity on the space around the bed. Install a bold headboard, hang some artwork, create symmetry around the bed with lights or nightstands.
Sometimes you will need another focal point in the bedroom. In that case, you can choose from a range of options. Statement furniture, like a vanity table, an eye-catching desk, or a cozy reading nook can work wonders for creating the perfect focal point in the bedroom. Other options include creating an accent wall or installing a unique lighting fixture.
It sounds like a challenge–but it’s really just a lot of fun! You can easily create the perfect focal point in your bathroom as well. It can certainly make the bathroom feel even more relaxing. Do the walk-in test again, and note what you see first. (Hopefully, it’s not the toilet bowl. It’s probably not the best candidate for a focal point).
You probably noticed your shower, your bathtub, the vanity, or the closet. If it’s the vanity, you can simply choose a visually appealing vanity or redecorate the one you already have. Draw attention to it with accessories made of materials that are different from the rest of the vanity, add plants or hang pictures close to it. Also, focus the lighting close to the mirror.
With these basic tips, choosing a focal point is easy, and creating your design around it can be lots of fun!
Choosing a focal point is one of the best ways to start decorating your space so that it’s a gorgeous reflection of your character and taste! It's an element that is vital to understand, however, once you get it right, you will be genuinely proud of your design skills! Whether you have built-in focal points or you need to create them, following this basic principle of design will get you where you want to be. Still, don’t worry too much about it! Enjoy the process–the most perfect focal point is the one that makes you feel good!