Feng Shui. Eclectic. Monochromatic. With all the jargon, interior design can seem like an entirely different language inaccessible to the average person. But you don’t have to be a designer to access some of their tools of the trade. Simply understanding some of the key concepts can help you put together a professional-looking design for your home. The “focal point” is one of these concepts.
What Is a Focal Point?
A focal point is a term art and interior design share. In art, it’s the spot in the painting that draws the viewer’s attention. For example, in van Gogh’s Starry Night, our eye moves immediately to the prominent swirls of the sky. In Girl with a Pearl Earring by Johannes Vermeer, our eye focuses on the glistening earring.
A good artist will design everything around the focal point. The same is true in interior design. If you have ideas for creating a focal point in a space, you can create a more unified design.
Ideas for Creating a Focal Point
If a room has a prominent architectural feature, it typically becomes the space’s focal point. A few examples of architectural focal points include:
- A fireplace
- A large window
- A vaulted ceiling
- A light fixture, such as a chandelier
- Built-in shelving
Even though the eye naturally focuses on features like this, we can still add design elements to highlight them. For instance, you can highlight a fireplace by painting it or placing furniture around it.
You can take an unassuming architectural piece like a blank wall and turn it into a focal point. This is called an accent wall. You can paint this wall a different color or even add a mural to it. You can also highlight a wall with wallpaper for a more whimsical accent.
In rooms without distinct architecture, the eye often moves to the room’s largest or most prominent furniture piece instead. For instance, a bed, dining room table, or large sofa often act as the focal point of a space. You can highlight these furniture pieces with accents, like a piece of art over a bed or a centerpiece on a table.
You can turn a piece of wall art into a focal point using its surroundings. For instance, you can paint the wall behind a piece of art in a complementary color, or add lighting.