How to create a focal point in a room

A lot of times you hear designers and decorators talk about creating a “focal point”. What exactly do they mean by that? Where do they go? And how can you create one?

a picture a room with a large framed colour picture that creates a focal point for the room

The center of interest in a room 

Simply put, a focal point is something that draws the eye and makes one pay attention to a specific point in a room. This can be done with a piece of furniture, an architectural detail like a fireplace or a piece of wall décor. By manipulating elements like scale, contrast and color you can create a center of interest in a space that you notice as soon as you enter the room. 

Here are some ways to create a focal point in your space. 

person standing at the entrance of a living room and assessing all the potential options for a focal point.

Evaluate the space

Before deciding what or where you want the focal point to be, consider what parts of the space are most used. First, stand in the main entrance to the space and take a look at what you see. Is there a wall or feature you face right away? Do you see it as you walk past the entrance to the space? This could be a good candidate for a focal point. Next, sit or stand in the space where you would normally spend the most time and notice what you see. For example in a living room, have a seat on the couch and see what is in front of you. This could also be a good place to create a focal point. 

Use contrast to create a focal point

The key to creating this point of interest is contrast. This refers to creating something that is noticeably different from everything around it, and can be done in a few different ways. Here we show you ways to create contrast using scale, style and color.

a table and chairs with a small picture and the same table and chairs with a larger picture, to show how scale can be used to create a focal point in a room

Create contrast with scale. A simple way to create contrast is to use something big to draw the eye. It can be a large piece of artwork, or using a frame that is thicker than any of the frames that are around it.

Two images of pictures hanging above a fireplace that domenstrate how to create a focal point by creating contrast between the framed picture and the room style

Create contrast with style. This is a little more subtle, but you can use a different visual style for an element in a room to draw attention to it. A good example is shown above where an antique frame stands out from the modern and minimal design of the rest of the room. 

image of using a painted feature wall between two shelving units and a picture hung on the colored wall to create a focal point in the room

Use color to create a focal point

Create contrast with color. Probably the easiest way to create a focal point is with a little bit of color. Paint one wall or a feature in the room in a color that is very different from the rest of the room and anything you put on that wall will be noticed right away. You don’t even have to paint the entire wall, an area behind the piece of art painted in a different color will also make it stand out.

a room decorated with a black couch and wall with a large colour picture in a heavy frame hung over the couch to create a focal point in the room

Another way to create that contrast is by choosing a piece of artwork that has a color palette that will stand out from the rest of the art or furniture around it. For example, if your room is full of light colored walls and furniture, a dark or colorful piece of artwork will stand out in contrast to the room. In the image above, a heavy frame with a burst of colorful art was used in contrast to the dark furniture to create the focal point.

Two pictures side by side of a wall decorated above a table and chairs to illustrate how to reduce visual noise in a room to create a focal point.

Reduce the visual clutter to help enhance a focal point

Another approach to consider is reducing the visual noise in the room to highlight the thing you want people to look at. By having a uniform environment it’s easier to create a contrasting focal point using one of the approaches described above. Simply creating some extra room around an existing piece of art can help to instantly draw more attention to it.

Follow your instincts

At the end of the day there is no single right way to achieve a focal point - do whatever looks good to your eye, and works for your space. And above all have fun and try things out - you can always change it back later.

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