Primary Focal Points
By Val Sharp
In every room you need to decide what your primary focal point is.
If at all possible, you want to use a natural/architectural focal point as your primary focal point like a fireplace or a view. However, be careful about using a view as your primary focal point. It may be gorgeous during the day, but if it's a black hole at night then it's probably better to have a different primary focal point and incorporate the view as a secondary focal point.
If you don't have a natural or architectural focal point, then you will need to create a primary focal point in the room using a combination of furniture, art and/or accessories.
To Create a Primary Focal Point: Look for tall pieces of furniture that can be placed against the wall opposite the entrance to the room (or in the left or right corner) - this is the first space seen by someone entering the room. If you don't have a substantial piece of furniture, look for a large piece of art or a tapestry. You can also use a table or other piece of furniture with art over it and accessories on it; or use a plant beside a table with art over both and accessories on the table. Get creative. The objective is to have something large and beautiful for the eye to 'land' on.
Common Primary Focal Points
Living room or family room
It's important to create a primary focal point in the living room or family room because you will arrange a conversation grouping addressing or facing that primary focal point. Usually the fireplace or large window with a view is the primary focal point in a living room or family room. You can also create a primary focal point with an armoire, an entertainment center, or a chest with artwork above it. In the living room or family room there may be more than one focal point. A TV is a common focal point. However, as much as possible you don't want the TV to be the primary focal point as it's usually not the most attractive thing in the room. It's better to incorporate it as a secondary focal point, still viewed from most of the seats in the room, but not the 'main event.'
Common primary focal points here are a buffet with a large painting, a grouping, or a framed mirror above it; an extremely large oil painting; a wall of sliding or French doors, or a large picture window.
In a bedroom, the primary focal point is the bed. The only exception might be a wall of glass doors or windows that reveal a great view.
Reinforcing the Primary Focal Point
Now that you have your primary focal point, you want to reinforce it by placing other furnishings and accessories around it to balance and emphasize it. For example, in the living room your conversation area should face the primary focal point. You put art over the fireplace, and accessories on the mantel. In the dining room you put art over the buffet and accessories on top of it. In the bedroom, you can have a headboard or art over the bed, side tables and lamps, and beautiful bedding. All this is designed to make your primary focal point beautiful and emphasize it. If you have an L-shaped living/dining room, each area needs its own primary focal point.
Val Sharp is the founder and past president of the Canadian Re-designers Association and the author of “The Art of Redesign – 5 Simple Steps to No-Cost Redecorating”. She instructs people in starting their own interior redesign and home staging business. If you want to become a redesigner or home stager, or you want more information about Val and her book, stop by www.sharpredesigns.com