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Creating Design Focal Points

A key component of architectural, landscaping, interior and even fashion design, is to draw your attention to certain attractive areas of the space – in other words create a focal point. When you really pay attention, all well designed interiors and exteriors have focal points.

Use of Flowers & Plants

The easiest way to create a focal point is using flowers or plants that pick up the colors in the space and add visual interest.  Not only are flowers attractive to birds and bees most humans love to look at them also. This display tactic is frequently utilized with magazine layouts and in staged homes. When you “mentally remove” the floral bouquet/plant displayed in a photo, then you really see where the design focal points are and how they tie into the space.  I don’t know about you but fresh cut flower bouquets are not in my weekly budget as much as I love them!  Therefore it is important with effective design to create more formalized focal points using accessories, furniture or enhanced architectural details so when the flowers go away you still have an attractive space.

Display Groupings

If you have ever taken an art class they frequently talk about the concept of formal pairs or using odd number items in display.  When a pair of items is coordinated and displayed with an additional larger piece it somehow becomes easier on the eye to look at.  This is why front doors tend to have pots on either side and the same with fireplace mantels.  It is a safe and easy way to look uniform and attractive.  Sometimes it is fun to shake things up a bit though by varying heights/sizes of items and grouping them by color rather than just displaying a matching set. Size also matters.  If the items don’t work proportionately or don’t color coordinate then the focal piece loses some of its impact. Displaying a group of items such as framed artwork or photos with matching color coordinating mats or frames can really make a wonderful focal point in a large open area verses having an expensive large piece of art.

Rugs and Window Coverings

An attractively patterned area rug can set the design tone and palette for an entire room.  The colors in the rug can then be picked up by coordinated accessories such as pillows, framed art and wall colors.  Elegant window coverings can be also be a room focal point by themselves depending on the fabrics and trimmings used.  If the furniture is more basic and subtle this can be a nice way to jazz up a space.

Creating Architectural Focal Points

Many of today’s homes are designed as almost “spec” homes – that is the architect or builder has created the basic room design but they tend to not have interesting built-ins or perhaps they just used inexpensive basic doors, windows and trims.  Creating focal points, such as beefing up a fireplace area with decorative moldings, is an attractive, affordable way to create a feeling of luxury in a basic home space.

Most important though…Removing Visual Clutter

A focal point needs to be well defined but not lost in a large amount of “stuff”. This is a common situation I see when working with clients.  When you are living in a space, clutter has a way of creeping up on us unintentionally.  My kitchen island is a perfect example of this creep syndrome!  Out of habit it has become a landing place for items in transition whether I want it to or not.  One way to eliminate the “clutter creep” is to put in areas of open space such as an empty shelf or a few sections with only one item strategically displayed.  The open space can be “visual relief” to the eye when it is situated next to busy shelf of books or collection display.  Another piece of advice I like to give clients is that it is ok to not have everything on display at once.  If a space is too crowded items tend to “get lost” no matter how attractive and sentimental they are.  Periodically rotating special possessions makes you appreciate them much more than having them hidden behind too much stuff.


From Grace Dumalac Design on Houzz