The Importance of Interior Design Focal Points: Creating a Centerpiece for Your Home

a neutral living room with a red sofa and an abstract piece of red artwork
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Every room looks better if it has a focal point. A striking, centerpiece draws your eye into a room and gives it somewhere to settle. Without one, the aesthetic of the space may not pull together very effectively.

If you have a room that you instinctively know needs a little bit more character, the lack of an interior design focal point might be why. This is a core principle in both interiors and theatrical staging, which are not such different disciplines as you might think. 

What is an Interior Design Focal Point?

At its core, a focal point is the first place the eye lands when entering a room. It’s that standout element, be it a piece of art, a fireplace, or an intricately designed table, that captivates and holds attention. A well-defined focal point brings harmony to a space, ensuring that all other design elements have a cohesive direction.

Why is it Important?

a neutral living room with fireplace and vintage artwork above it. There is a wooden coffee table in the middle
Your eyes are immediately drawn to the fireplace and vintage artwork

A room without a focal point can feel chaotic, disjointed, or even overwhelming. The focal point serves as a visual anchor, providing a sense of balance and order. It guides the viewer’s eye, making the room feel more organized and intentional.

If you want to go ahead and give a room some life with a centerpiece, there are many ways to do this. Here are a few…

Start With What You Have

Before going out and purchasing a new statement piece, take stock of what you already have. Look around your space. Perhaps there’s a fireplace, a bay window, or a built-in bookcase. These architectural features can serve as natural focal points. Enhance them with lighting, decor, or color to make them stand out.

Statement Lighting

a neutral and contemporary living room with statement lighting

It can draw the eye upward, influence mood, and change the way you perceive the colors around you. Of course, it’s lighting!

Oversized lighting with attention-grabbing lampshades can create a stunning focal point for any room in your house. Consider spotlights, pendant lights, or even candles to add drama and attention to specific areas.

A Faux Fireplace

a bioethanol fireplace in a living room surrounded by green cabinets. A huge peony picture is on the wall and the bookshelves are filled with plants and books
A faux fireplace providing the perfect focal point in the living room

Think you need a chimney for a fireplace? Think again! Think you need a fireplace at all to have a fireplace? Wrong again! The faux fireplace is an on-trend, clever feature for any room.

There are plenty of faux fireplaces online, including bio-fuel burners like we have in our living room. They use biofuel to produce flames, but as they burn cleanly, leaving no residue, ash, smoke, or any of the mess associated with wood or coal-burning fires, there’s no need for fireplace venting. 

You don’t even need a proper fireplace to create a focal point. If you like a DIY project, you could upcycle an old wooden fire surround, give it a fresh lick of paint, and affix it to your wall. Fill the inside with candles or fairy lights and sit your favorite plants and photo frames on the mantlepiece. It’s sure to be a conversation starter for any house guests!

Bold Wallpaper

a dining room with statement wallpaper, black walls, a large dining table with orange chairs and statement lighting

Covering one of the walls in wallpaper with a bold print is another way to give a room a more purposeful look.

Choose the Right Wall

  • Visibility: Select a wall that is immediately noticeable upon entering the room. This is typically the wall opposite the entrance.
  • Avoid Competition: If your room has other significant architectural features like a fireplace or a large window, avoid those walls. They’re already focal points, and introducing bold wallpaper might create a clashing effect.

Select the Right Wallpaper

  • Color Coordination: The colors in the wallpaper should harmonize with the overall color scheme of the room. It doesn’t have to match perfectly, but it should complement the existing hues.
  • Pattern Scale: Consider the size of the room and the wall. A very intricate pattern might be lost in a large room, while an oversized pattern might overwhelm a small space.
a green living room with forest wallpaper, a green velvet sofa and a rattan lightshade

If there’s a dominant color in your room, your feature wall could echo this. For example, a green room with wood furniture might look great with a forest wallpaper that has a green and brown print. You could even add another layer of color to such a room by choosing a sofa that picks out accent colors in the wallpaper.

In fact, you don’t even need a feature wall to have fun with a bold wallpaper. Consider the fifth wall, your ceiling! Many people forget to include it in their interior design, however, a wallpapered ceiling makes for a very effective focal point and can even give the illusion of added height.

Your Furniture

a red sofa in a room with a red wall and monochrome artwork

Some eye-catching furniture might be all your room needs to give it a focal point. Here are some examples of how to use furniture as a focal point:

  • Opt for a sofa that stands out in terms of color, shape, or upholstery. A vibrant red sofa in a neutral-colored room or a uniquely shaped sectional can immediately draw attention.
  • In a bedroom, an oversized or ornately designed headboard can be the standout piece. Think upholstered headboards with button tufting, wooden designs with intricate carvings, or even DIY headboards made from reclaimed doors or tapestries.
  • A piece with history, such as a vintage dresser, an antique writing desk, or a heirloom cabinet, can be a conversation starter. Their unique designs, wear, and patina often set them apart from contemporary pieces.
  • A dining table with a glass top or a mirrored coffee table can become a focal point because of its reflective surfaces. They’re especially effective in smaller rooms as they give a sense of space.
  • Chairs or ottomans in unusual shapes, bold colors, or unique upholstery patterns can serve as focal points, especially when paired in twos or when they contrast with the rest of the room.

Artwork and Mirrors

a neutral living room with a large round mirror and flowers
A large round mirror acts as a focal point of the room

A strategically placed piece of art or a decorative mirror can easily become a room’s focal point. Choose something that complements the room’s style and color scheme. Remember, size matters—a small painting might get lost on a large wall, while a large one might overwhelm a small space.

Artwork

  • Choose a large-scale piece of art to instantly draw attention. An oversized painting or print can dominate a wall and set the tone for the entire room.
  • A collection of smaller artworks can be arranged in a gallery wall format. This creates a larger visual impact, and the collective display can serve as a focal point.
  • If you have a specific theme or color scheme in the room, select artwork that complements it. This will create a cohesive look while allowing the art to stand out.
  • Use art-specific lighting, such as picture lights or directed spotlights, to highlight the artwork and further emphasize its role as a focal point.

Mirrors

  • A large, ornate mirror can serve as a captivating centerpiece in a room, especially in spaces like the living room or dining area.
  • Similar to a gallery wall of artwork, a grouping of smaller mirrors with varying shapes and designs can act as a collective focal point.
  • Place the mirror in a location where it reflects a beautiful part of the room or an outdoor view. This not only doubles the visual interest but also amplifies the focal point effect.
  • Mirrors can make a space feel larger. In smaller rooms, a well-placed mirror can serve as a focal point while also opening up the space.
  • The frame of the mirror can contribute to its impact. Ornate, colorful, or uniquely textured frames can elevate the mirror’s presence in the room.

The TV

a tv above a fireplace in a neutral living room

Incorporating a TV as a focal point in a room can be a challenge since TVs are often seen as utilitarian objects. However, with thoughtful design and planning, a TV can be seamlessly integrated into the decor and even become an aesthetic highlight. Here’s how:

Built-in Wall Units

  • Custom Cabinetry: Design built-in cabinetry or shelving around the TV. This allows the TV to sit flush with the surrounding structure, providing storage and decorative space to display other items.
  • Feature Walls: Create a feature wall where the TV is set against a different texture, such as wood, stone, or wallpaper, distinguishing it from the rest of the room.

Framed TV

  • Picture Frame: Use a decorative frame to surround the TV, making it look like a piece of art. Some TV manufacturers even offer models designed to resemble framed artwork.
  • Gallery Wall: Incorporate the TV into a gallery wall of artworks or photographs. When turned off, it can blend seamlessly with the rest of the display.

Furniture Placement

  • Entertainment Centers: Opt for an entertainment center that offers storage solutions and frames the TV, making it the room’s central focus.
  • Floating Consoles: Mount the TV on the wall and use a floating console below it. This creates a modern, minimalistic look, emphasizing the TV area.

Multi-functional Wall

Incorporate a Fireplace: Combine the TV with another focal point, like a fireplace. Mounting the TV above the fireplace makes it a dual-feature wall. However, ensure that the heat won’t damage the TV and that it’s at a comfortable viewing height.

Complementing Your Focal Point

Once you’ve established your focal point, it’s essential to ensure that the rest of the room complements and doesn’t compete with it. Keep other elements more muted or choose complementary colors and styles. This ensures that the focal point remains the star of the show.

Focal points harness the power of design to create spaces that are balanced, beautiful, and emotionally resonant. By understanding and leveraging this concept, anyone can elevate their home’s interior to new heights. Remember, it’s not just about making a space look good—it’s about making it feel good, too. And a well-chosen focal point does just that.

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