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Brian Cotsen - Property Coach

How To Find A Rooms 'Focal Point'

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How to find a rooms 'Focal Point'

Whether you are planning on sprucing up a room or introducing a whole new scheme, finding a rooms 'focal point' and developing the new scheme around it is the key to success.

But what is a 'Focal Point' and how do you find where it is in the room?

A rooms 'Focal Point' is where, on entering the space for the first time, your eyes naturally gravitate towards. This not only gives the room a central focus, but also gives anyone who enters the room, something to focus on, pause and relax. Often the 'Focal Point' is not noticed consiously by the viewer, however subconsiously it has a great effect.

A room will feel so much more inviting and be a far more comfortable space to rest or entertain in if the orientation of the room is towards the 'Focal Point'.

So what are examples of 'Focal points'?

  • Sometimes a 'Focal Point' is an architectural feature such as a fireplace, archway, staircase, or unusual structure within the room.

  • Other times it is a piece of art or an installation that is in the room. Perhaps a fantastic painting hanging centrally on the wall opposite the door is the rooms 'Focal Point', or maybe it is a beautiful floor standing sculpture, perhaps it is a display cabinet that is lit and full of beautiful china it might even be a fabulous chandelier.


  • Sometimes it is the view beyond the room that is the 'Focal Point'. Often a beautiful bay window that looks out onto a lovely lawn or country scene.

  • It can also be an important piece of furniture that is all about the rooms purpose, a bed, for example.

The important thing is to learn how to find a rooms 'Focal Point' and ensuring that it is used as a central point in the room scheme.

An important point to keep in mind is that there should be just 1 dominant 'Focal Point', although there can be other, less dominant things to focus on.

Too many 'Focal Points' will create visual clutter and be very tiring to the onlooker.


Here's how you find a rooms 'Focal point'

  • Taking a good look at your room or space, decide what is the 'biggest feature. It could be the chimney breast, a fabulous archway or the view through the floor to ceiling windows. Generally these large architectural features will be your focal point.
  • You may have a room that is fairly blank with no distinguishing features to it. In this case think about the largest pieces of furniture that you are putting into the room - a four-poster bed, a sofa, a beautiful dining table, a roll top bath? This could be the central 'Focal Point'.
  • Maybe the work of art, that is also the central point for your 'colour scheme' (see finding inspiration) is the most striking feature that will be in your room or space. How about that wonderful arched, guilt, over mantle mirror.

  • Focal points can actually be something that changes such as a wonderful vase of flowers on a central hall table.

  • The focal point should be the first thing that you see on entering the room.
  • The furniture and axis of the room should be oriented towards the main focal point. So you may group the seating towards the centre of the room and the fireplace. Or in the summer you might reorientate the room towards the window and the view beyond.
  • You can create an instant focal point in featureless rooms by decorating the main wall, or even the central portion of the main wall, differently from the rest of the room, using paint or striking wallpaper for instance.
  • Use light to highlight your chosen focal point. Think about how much more inviting a fireplace with a real flame in it is over one that is not in use. Use picture lights or directional spots to pick out your chosen focal point.
  • Use other accessories to draw attention to the 'Focal Point' for example if the chimney breast & fireplace are your 'Focal Point' then dress the mantle with some attractive objects to bring more attention to the feature. This is especially effective during winter and seasonal holidays like Thanksgiving & Christmas.

What is not a 'Focal Point'

  • The TV! - although many living rooms are oriented towards this piece of domestic electronics, it is not a desirable focal point. Re arrange the furniture to centre more towards another, more uplifting and attractive focal point.
  • The computer - Ditto
  • Filing Cabinets - who wants to focus on work?
  • Laundry or washing lines!
  • Children's toys.
  • Coats hanging over the banisters.
  • The toilet, through an open door!

Of course there are many unsightly things that we live with on an everyday basis. Try not to let them become the centre of attention in your room schemes.

Some extra tips on finding a rooms 'Focal Point'

  • Choose a feature you enjoy as your 'Focal Point' and then work with it.
  • Develop the focal point by accessorising around it or using light to draw attention to it.
  • Use colour behind the 'Focal Point' to add more impact.

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