Focal points are not a complicated concept, but there are a few key considerations to help one determine how to emphasize focal points in interior design. One may need to differentiate between multiple types of focal points or create an entirely new one.
To create a focal point in an interior space there are various design elements one can use to create emphasis, which we will explore below.
A statement piece of furniture, such as a sofa, bed or dining table can serve as a focal point in its own right.
Furniture placement can also be used to influence a focal point. For example, placing sofas, chairs and tables around a fireplace will encourage people to gather around it, and draw traffic to this space.
Furniture in contrasting colors and textures will make the viewer stop and think while drawing their eye. Distinct forms can also foster emphasis, such as highlighting a sculpture within a space of clean lines.
Even when a focal point is clearly noticeable, one can use accents to enhance the visual appeal and elevate the feel of the space. This might include window furnishings, molding, artwork or bookshelves. For example, statement furniture can be emphasized by accents such as cushions and throws.
There are also some features that can either be a focal point or work to emphasize one. For example, a work of art can serve as a focal point or can be hung above a fireplace to emphasize the existing focal point. Meanwhile, built-in shelving can frame a fireplace or accent a feature window, thus expanding the original point of focus.
Strategically placed lighting is a subtle but powerful way to create emphasis. The eye is drawn to areas of contrast, such as where light meets dark and lighting can be used to illuminate design features of the room, such as alcoves or archways.
If a piece of art is the focal point, picture and track lights, or wall fixtures, will set it apart and help draw the eye to the artwork. Of course, some light fixtures, such as chandeliers, can be focal points themselves – whereas others can be part of one, like when pendant lights hover over a dining table.
One of the easiest ways to emphasize a focal point is through the color palette. Accent walls are a favourite method of emphasis through color, without committing to a full overhaul of a space. If there are no built-in features to work with, an accent wall on the furthest wall from the entry can serve as a focal point.
Even with neutral shades, a point of contrast can become the focal point – such as grey against warm white. A more playful effect can be achieved with a splash of bright color, whether that be on a wall, rug or piece of furniture – this works especially well as part of a monochrome scheme.
Color accents can also be used to draw attention to an existing focal point. For example, curtains in a bright and inviting color can frame a window with an impressive view. At the other end of the spectrum, dark paint surrounding a fireplace will emphasize the contrast and make for an even more dramatic point of focus.
5. Texture, Shape & Pattern
Much like the use of color, different textures and patterns can energize a space. An exposed brick wall, vibrant patterned wallpaper, or intricately carved furniture can anchor the eye and become a focal point.
A heavily textured rug on a bare floor will stand out, and even interior plants such as ferns will add texture. Shapes and patterns can introduce a contrast that will emphasize a focal point. A square table amongst a group of circular stools will stand out, as will an irregular shape amongst square tiles, square cushions and a square rug.
Lines can be used to determine the flow of a space. By altering the flow, the point at which it is broken can become the focal point. For example, if horizontal lines are used in the design, and vertical lines break the pattern, this will stand out where the attention is desired.