Designer Lingo Unplugged: Focal Point

Hello!  I am back again with another Designer Lingo Unplugged post.  Last time, we talked about contrast.  You can catch up on that post here. Today, we are going to talk about focal points.  What a focal point is and how you can style your room around one to create a visually appealing space.

Have you ever walked into a room and you feel overwhelmed or uncomfortable?  Often that happens when there is no focal point for your eye to rest on in the space.  A focal point helps ground a room and gives your eye something to land on.  It creates a mood and a tone for a space. Without a focal point, a space isn't as visually pleasing or interesting.  A blank wall or a tv is not what you want as your focus.  The good news is, it isn't challenging to create a focal point in your space.  I'm going to show you how.

Designer Lingo Focal Point

What is a Focal Point? The center of interest or activity.

Every well-designed space needs a focal point. Whether it's an architectural detail, a lighting fixture, a color, a piece of artwork, or a view, a focal point will be the spotlight of the room.  However, it's very important to choose the right item in a room to highlight otherwise, it can dominate the eye and not set the right tone and mood for a space.

Ok, so if focal point means the center of interest, then it will be the one thing that your eye is drawn to in the room.  I encourage you to walk into your space.  What is the first thing your eye is drawn to in your room?  If you said windows, or a tv, or a large piece of artwork, then you have your focal point.  If your eye is wandering and not landing on anything, then we need to create one.

How can you achieve it in your room?

Here are 5 suggestions for creating a Focal Point in your space.

  • Design a feature wall (also called gallery wall)- Find a blank wall and get to work.  You can use photos, a collection, mirrors, artwork, or a sculpture.  This can be one large item as in a piece of artwork or a collage of smaller items that make a statement when grouped together.

In my foyer, I have created a focal point by grouping together black and white photos of our travels.  You can read more about this gallery in this post.

Travel Gallery WallIMG_0402

Another example of this is from Little Bits of Home.  She created a gallery wall of art and photos in her hallway.

Focal Point Gallery Wall

photo via Little Bits of Home

  • Paint your ceiling- I haven't done this, but the rooms I've seen this done in are simply gorgeous!  With this design choice, make sure the lighting can handle it.  It needs to be large and bold as well.  Keep all the other patterns, colors, and elements in the room subtle so they do not compete with this focal point.

Here is a beautiful example of this from Sharon Joy Interiors.  She painted her guest bedroom ceiling a bold black.  It is absolutely stunning!

Focal Point Ceiling- Sharon Joy Interiors

photo via Sharon Joy Interiors

  •  Add architecture details like bookshelves or a fireplace-  If you have a blank space, you may decide to add bookshelves or a faux fireplace to ground the space and add your focal point. Another idea is to take your existing architecture and draw attention to it.

I love how Domicile 37 painted the fireplace and surrounding area a dramatic black in this space.  It really draws your eye to it and creates a stunning backdrop for the furnishings in the room.

Focal Point Photo from Domicile 37

photo via Domicile 37

Here, Kim from Knock it off Kim used built-in bookshelves to create a focal point in her dining room/ playroom space.

Focal Point Built in Shelving from Knock it off Kim

photo via Knock it off Kim

  •  Ground your room with a colorful rug- In this space by The Honeycomb Home, the rug is the showstopper and the surrounding area compliments the design.  Color and pattern is used sparingly so that it doesn't compete with the rug.

Focal Point Rug by The Honeycomb Home

Photo via The Honeycomb Home

Another colorful rug in the home of Ariel, from PMQ for two.

Focal Point Colorful rug from PMQ for two

Photo via PMQ for Two

  • Attention grabbing furniture- You may decide to use a piece of furniture as a focal point.  A colorful couch or a coffee table with a beautiful vignette can be a focal point if you design it in a way to draw attention to it in the space.

My friend, Emily, from Two Purple Couches, really has two purple couches and they are the statement pieces of her living space.

Focal Point Purple Couches

Photo via Two Purple Couches

And just like last time, similar to interior design, fashion relies on the same principles.  In planning an outfit, use a statement necklace or scarf to create a focal point to your outfit.  Keep all other competing accessories or patterns to a minimum.

Statement Necklace as a focal point to an outfitStatement purse as a focal point to an outfitStatement Necklace as a focal point to an outfitStatement earrings as a focal point to an outfit

Post #1   |   Post #2   |   Post #3   |   Post #4

To life feeling like home!


  1. Ashley says:

    I love the black fireplace – very dramatic! It’s also interesting how the bright colous (in the seats etc) seems to nutrealise the darker colour making it more cool than stark.

  2. Chloe says:

    These gallery walls are so inspiring! Love them and need to get going at my house!

  3. Kati says:

    Love this series. It’s great to redefine the basics. Pinned!

  4. Such a fun blog series! I love all the inspiration photos you picked. Your gallery wall is one of my faves!

  5. Rachel says:

    Great idea for a series and I love the examples! So many beautiful and unique spaces but they illustrate your point very well.

  6. What a great idea for a series! I’ll be tuning in because I need all the help I can get when it comes to interior design!!

  7. What a great roundup and great tips Amy! thanks so much for sharing, pinning!

  8. Such a great explanation of this topic! I really need to work on this…I am looking around my house right now and seeing if I have focal points in each room…I definitely have some work to do!

  9. bonbon says:

    Good information. Love how you showed the examples.

  10. Sara says:

    Good and useful information. Love the examples, like the stair gallery wall and Sharon’s wall!

  11. Samantha says:

    These are great tips! I love your stairwell gallery wall and the chest of drawers at the bottom! Thanks for including my gallery wall in your post!

  12. Amanda says:

    Love these tips – and all of the inspiration photos are so gorgeous!

  13. Such beautiful pictures of homes! I have a soft spot for any and all gallery walls!

  14. Roxanne says:

    Amy, these are such great tips. Thanks for including my space as one of your examples! 🙂

  15. Maria says:

    You look so stylish, love the purse, I love adding photos going up my stair way that all are measured equally and same frames, gives a symetrical look.

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