Focal Point

In my last couple of articles, I wrote about how to arrange your furniture around the focal point in the room.  What I neglected to say was what defines a focal point and how you can create one.  We’ll tackle that in this article.

Simply put, the focal point of the room is the thing you see first when you enter the room.  That means that it sets the mood and style for the room and that all the other pieces in the room will relate to it in one way or another.  Many rooms have a natural focal point built in, like a fireplace or a large window.  Other natural focal points will the biggest piece of furniture in the room, perhaps a bookshelf, a buffet, armoire or china cabinet.

In an open floor plan, where you have one very large space, each space should have its own focal point.  You want to try and create them in opposite corners so as to create a sense of balance.

Since the focal point sets the tone for the room, go ahead and play it up.  Add a mantle above the fireplace.  Put a large floral arrangement on it or something with extra color.  If it is a window, add drapery or brighten the border around the window to accentuate it.

Sometimes the largest piece of furniture in the room is the sofa.  You can work around it by adding a large screen and moving the sofa “kitty corner” to it or putting a tall plant or lamp towards the end of it.  If you want the sofa to be the focus point, then play it up.  Hang a large mirror or picture behind it, being sure it is far enough above the sofa that folks don’t hit their heads on it when they sit down.  Remember that wide goes with wide so use a wide picture above the three cushion sofa.  If you don’t have the appropriate art, use a triptych of three pictures or accentuate the wideness by adding sconces to the wall at the ends of the sofa.  Big clunky candlesticks or tall lamps can create the same effect. If you can, match the colors in the sofa with the pieces you put around it.  You can easily add throw pillows to the sofa to bring in extra color.

When matching colors, I usually recommend matching the least color in the largest piece.  Because there’s less of it to match, any differences in color will be less noticeable and you’ll be adding secondary color to room instead of merely spreading the primary color around.

If you need to create a focal point for a room, look at which wall you see when you first enter.  That’s your target. You can always paint that wall a special color, or multiple colors to accentuate it.

Sometimes, though, the opposite problem occurs and that’s that there are too many focal points in the room.  If you have an armoire and a fireplace, what do you do?  The best focal point will be whatever folks see first when they enter the room.  As noted above, once you’ve picked the singular point of focus, you can dress it up even further to make sure it is the thing that folks see.

As I’ve said before, and probably will again (since I often repeat myself), the room is just like painting a canvas and the best pictures are those where some point draws your eye and brings you into them.  Just like you want folks to come into your room.  It gets so clumsy when all they do is mill around at the entrance.  Got something you’d like to know more about?  Send me an email at