Interior Design 101: The Right Way to Emphasize Your Focal Point


The best starting point in interior design is the focal point. For sure, you’ve heard it time and time again from the pros or your design-savvy aunts: Know what you want to highlight in the room from the very beginning of planning. It’s far easier to know what to do with the rest of the space when you’ve decided early on that the star of the room is the fireplace or the large abstract painting. But the principle behind focal points doesn’t end with the “what.” It’s equally important to know the “hows” of emphasizing design details.

The Importance of Placement

One way to highlight the focal point in any space is to be strategic in positioning it. In most cases where the room is linear, the ideal placement is the farthest end of the hall. That’s where the eyes usually go. Your abstract painting can easily capture attention if it’s placed there. Another option is the middle of the room. This is another good spot that attracts the eye. You can use this space for a dangling chandelier or a round accent table with large vases.

In irregularly-shaped spaces, the placement may feel tricky. But in reality, you just have to think about the principle of sight lines, just like in linear rooms. Determine where people view the space from. This is usually from the doorway, the end of the hallway, or perhaps the foot of the stairs, like in basements. From there, consider the area your eyes first naturally gravitate to. That’s where you should place the star of the room.

Make sure that there are clear sight lines from that viewing spot to the focal point. You may need to tear down walls or at least reorient furniture in this case. Before you remove walls, though, check electrical outlets or HVAC vents, especially if you’re undergoing basement finishing work. Professionals in Utah emphasize exercising caution on your demolition.

A Play of Other Design Elements

color swatches options

Aside from strategic placement, another way to emphasize a focal point is to incorporate other design elements, specifically color and lighting. Use a hue that’s a stark contrast of the dominant shade in the room. For instance, if you use neutrals all over, you can apply a bright pop of red or orange paint in the corner where your focal point is. You can also use wallpaper that has bold, geometrical patterns. Every now and then, change the paint or wallpaper to introduce a new flavor in the room.

Lighting can also help in highlighting focal points. If you can provide ceiling-mounted accent lights or track lights, that can definitely make your art piece or fireplace stand out and attract attention. But there are certain measurements to follow in terms of where to install the lighting fixtures. Otherwise, the setup may cast long shadows or create reflective glare, which is not very aesthetically pleasing.

A lot of homeowners are eager to decorate their spaces, but the dilemma is always how to start it and where to begin. Again, the ideal starting point is the focal point. Prioritize the design principle of emphasis in your design plan.

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