Updated: October 1, 2020
When you walk into a room, without thinking, your eyes automatically search for something or somewhere to land. That “landing spot” is called the focal point. The focal point is where your eye is drawn to and where you make your first impression of the room.
Typically focal points catch our eye because the focal point is a breath taking view, a stunning fireplace, or eye catching artwork. Sometimes, though, these focal points can make a negative first impression if, for example, the fireplace is dirty and run down, or the view is of a dirty pool, or the big picture is ugly or dated.
Focal points can make a positive or a negative statement!
The focal point sets the tone of the room so of course, we want that focal point to be a positive one! Some focal points are part of the house, like a fireplace, stunning windows, or an architectural feature, whereas sometimes, there is not an obvious focal point so we need to create one.
5 ways to create a focal point in a room
1. A fireplace or architectural feature
A fireplace, a nicely aged brick wall, beautiful windows, high vaulted ceilings, stunning columns for example are all features of a home that make a natural focal point and/or starting as your inspirational piece. Some homes come with this feature already built in whereas with others you can add this feature. A basic builder fireplace with no mantel or feature pieces, can be created into a stunning focal point by adding these features. Similarly, a plain ceiling can become an inspiring architectural feature by adding natural beams in the ceiling. It takes some planning and creativity to create these features that will not only look stunning, but will add value to your home.
The above room has both a beautiful fireplace and ceilings beams as architectural focal points in the room. Notice how the fireplace is the primary focal point, with the beams painted the same color as the ceiling becomes the second focal point. These two focal points complement one another, not compete with each other.
This fireplace above, was anything but a beautiful focal point. The previous fireplace actually creating a negative focal point in the room. Read fireplace transformation makeover
The secondary focal point in this room is the stunning view outdoors with the home backing on to protective green space. The furniture arrangement allows both focal points to be featured.
2. The View
People purchase homes because they want to surround themselves in an environment they find soothing or stimulating. Some people gravitate to natural surroundings like an ocean, lake, forest or mountain, while other like being the centre of a busy city and enjoy a beautiful skyline of a city.
If you are fortunate enough to have a stunning view from your living room, family room or bedroom window, this will automatically become the focal point of your room.
Photo: Pella Windows
The stunning view of the trees and pool captures your attention when you walk into the room. This room has a second focal point with the two-way fireplace, however, having the fireplace in the same soft creams tones as the walls, gives the view the primary slot of being the focal point.
Nothing beats an amazing view like a lake view, beach, mountain, forest or some other awesome natural view. If you’re fortunate enough to have one of these amazing views, you want to arrange the furniture in order to captivate these awesome focal point of your home. The homeowners here would have be wise to place a sectional couch that face both the gas fireplace and the lake view with smaller accent chairs instead of the love seat that currently sits in front of the window.
3. A stunning piece of furniture or an accessory
If there is not an obvious focal point like a fireplace, view, or architectural feature, like a beautiful piece of furniture, light fixture, a hand woven carpet, or a grand piano, there are many ways that you can create a focal point. Beautiful handwoven rugs, sculptures, baby grand pianos and other stunning pieces of furniture can also be the focal point.
There is no doubt, that this stunning ceiling light, above, is the focal point of the room. Every piece of furniture & accessory in this room was selected to keep all eyes on the lighting.
This room above has a couple of focal points with the beautiful view outdoors, but the real show stopper here is the stunning oak flooring in a herringbone pattern. Its subtle but elegant. Notice how the furniture is trending but neutral in order to highlight the beautiful flooring, the highlight of the room.
This dining room above has no natural focal points, however the stunning chandelier, and the metallic accent wall with the gold mirror creates a mood for a nice romantic evening at home. The two lamps on the sideboard detract from the chandelier and mirror. It would have been better if they were not on the table. There is a such a thing as over accessorizing a room.
4. An Accent Wall
If you don’t have an architectural feature, or not enough height in your ceilings for a stunning light, there are many ways you can create an accent wall. A bold contrasting paint color, wallpaper or add a material like wood, slate or leather tiles. These features are all very popular right now in home decor and can be dressed up or dressed down to suit any house style or homeowners tastes.
This fireplace has become a stunning accent wall because of the homeowner’s design by creating a beautiful surround around the fireplace and a stunning vertical wood accent feature on the left side of the fireplace. In many newer homes, quite often the builder slaps in a gas fireplace with no mantel, feeling they did their job by adding a fireplace in the first place. However, creating an entire accent wall around a fireplace makes this a beautiful feature of this living room.
This meeting room above, is the poster child on how to create a focal point in a room without any natural features in a room that you can draw upon. From the stunning funky ceiling light, to the cool gray textured wallpaper accent wall with the oversized black & white large photos this room is pulled together in an effective and creative way.
Adding wood strips to create an accent wall is a relatively inexpensive DIY project that can look amazing if executed well. Especially when painted in a bold color like we see above.
This accent wall created by Spanish Designer, Mario Mimoso is absolutely stunning against this grass wallpaper.
Wallpaper is making a comeback and its comes in different styles that would fit any taste and style. Even the discerning tween above in this tween’s room makeover. Wallpaper also is now available in easy peel and stick tiles that are not only easy to apply, but removes the dreaded nasty job of removing wallpaper once the style is no longer popular.
Artwork is the easiest and least expensive way to create a stunning focal point in a room if you don’t have a natural one like a fireplace, stunning view or some other architectural feature that makes a powerful statement. Artwork can be one piece or a combination of more than one but it needs to make a powerful statement in order to be the focal point.
This room uses bold artwork and dark bold walls to make a dramatic focal point.
Even though there is an amazing view outside, the designer created a beautiful accent wall that compliments the style of the room and the windows but painting the accent wall a calming blue, highlighting bold artwork that is a similar shape to the window on the far right of the wall. An excellent execution of a well thought out design plan.
There are many ways to create a gallery wall as the focal point of the room. You can create one using photos of your trip, family, or just photos you love. There are equally a number of ways to create these gallery photo walls with a symmetrical look or asymmetrical as above. No way is right or wrong, but there are some tips to check out if you want a well thought out gallery wall.
When a room has two or more focal points!
Quite often, a room can have two or more focal points like a fireplace and an amazing view. How do you handle this? TV’s can be considered a focal point in some cases, although some designers would argue that TV’s are not focal points. Whether they are or not, they do need to be taken into consideration in the room’s furniture placement consideration. Alot of it has to do with what the focal point is, where it is and which one you want to emphasize. In some situations, you may one to emphasize one focal point over another, whereas in other situations, you can accentuate all of them.
In our photo above, one could say that this room has too many focal points. The beamed ceilings, stone fireplace and the matching back accent wall with stone, not to mention the dark windows highlighting the stunning view outside. Forunatley the designer has coordinated all the focal points with colors that compliment one another so that the focal points do not compete with each other for color. On the other hand, your eye does bounce around a bit trying to find a landing place. Notice that the furiture is very netural, almost boring in this room because it needs to take a back seat, get it? lol, to the many focal points in the room.
This living room also has many focal points. The fireplace, windows directing outside to an amazing view, beamed ceilings with gorgeous lighting and of course the beautiful fireplace. The stylist decided to block the fireplace in this design, focusing on the beams and the windows as the focal points to show. As the fireplace here, compliments the room’s colors, another option would be to not have any furniture in front of the fireplace to show off its beautiful style, or choose neutral ottomans in front of the fireplace for additional seating but not too distract or block the fireplace.
When there are two or more focal points, its wise to highlight one, but also to style the other focal point to have each one work well together and not to compete with one another.
What is the focal point in YOUR living room? Does it make a stunning statement about your home or a negative one?
I help busy homeowners, just like you, to style their house to make it a stunning retreat, where they can live and enjoy their home. I help homeowners, make money beyond their wildest expectations from the sale of their house by guiding them when they’re getting their house ready to sell.
Hi! I’m Debi Collinson. Home Stylist. Stager. Color Consultant. Real Estate Investor. It all started back in 2006, at the request of a realtor, where I nervously staged my very first home. But the sellers liked their newly styled home so much that they turned down an offer for full asking price. I went back to design school and the rest is history.
In my spare time, LOL, I buy “fixer uppers” to fix up & either sell for a healthy profit or to rent. I’m currently living in my 8th “fixer upper.” Sign up to receive my e-mails of how to make your home stunning, how to sell your house for top dollar AND how to become financially independent one fixer upper at a time!