What is a “Focal Point” of a room? Does a room need one?

A “focal point” is an aspect of the room that the eye is going to travel to first. Every room should have a focal point and only rarely is it naturally there as part of the architecture in a room, other than windows (a fireplace, for example, would be an architectural focal point). In vacant living rooms, the two natural focal points areas are typically a fireplace (if one exists) and the main window in the room. Depending on the time of year or what you are trying to achieve (staging to sell or just better living in your space), you can focus on one or the other of these natural focal points (or both, if it is a large enough room), or you can create a focal point of your own through furniture placement and appropriately hung art work. This is something a stager or interior designer or decorator can help you with if you struggle with creating it on your own.

In staging, we always either highlight the natural focal point or create one in each room in order to give the eye a place to rest and establish visual interest in the space. A focal point can easily be created via the furniture arrangement and the way that the décor and art are placed in the room. With staging properties for sale, there is often the added need to create “purpose” in a room and highlight the optimal furniture arrangement for buyers to see how they would live in the space.

To greatly enhance a ho-hum focal point in a room, consider using strategically placed lighting and dramatic artwork to make the area stand out and draw the eye towards it. For example, many newer homes and condos have gas fireplaces in the living rooms but they lack any sort of fine architectural detail to make them a dramatic aspect of the room. Placing one very large (scale appropriate, of course) piece of art over the fireplace, along with track lighting directed to specifically highlight the art, can make a big difference and help transform the room.

Other ideas for creating focal points in rooms where they otherwise don’t exist include using a beautiful tri-fold screen to create “texture” and visual interest in a corner or along a blank wall. Adding some type of greenery (a tall tree or potted floor plant) and an up-light can further enhance this look.