Finding a focal point in a room or garden can be an easy part of decorating and design.

Pick something you love, and let it steal the show.

Focal points invite a visitor to pause and look. It can be an architectural element in the room that stands out, a stunning fireplace or a dramatic window. Or it can be a special item added to a room – a piece of artwork or an intricately carved wooden chest.

“You want a focal point to be, as you walk in the room, the first thing you see,” said Laurin Johnson of Laurin Johnson Interiors in Columbia, S.C.

If a room has a fireplace, chances are that will be the focal point. In the bedroom, it should be the head of the bed, she said.

“Where you don’t have a fireplace, a beautiful piece of furniture can be a focal point,” Johnson said. “It can be a tall piece or a chest with a mirror, or a beautiful picture.

“What a lot of it boils down to, if you have a room that has no character or features to it, you have to create a focal point to give it some personality,” said Susanne Jordan of Dan Rich Furniture in Columbia. “It creates the personality of the room.”

A large armoire, secretary or interesting hunt board can help a room with no architectural features.

She also cautioned against letting an architectural focal point, such as a wall of windows, take over everything. It’s important to layer other items in the room.

A “focal point is nice, but it’s not everything,” Jordan said. “There are very few things that carry everything. If you don’t have one, it doesn’t mean your room is hopeless, and if do have one, don’t think your work is done.”

And it’s not just indoor rooms. Focal points play a role in gardens, too.

“It gives people something to focus on. It’s the thing that draws you out to your garden,” said Robin Klein, general manager of Woodley’s Garden Center in Columbia. “You want a focal point, because you don’t want so much busyness in the garden.”

“It’s not tranquil when your eye doesn’t have a place to rest,” Klein said. “Focal points transition you from one section to another.”

The focal point in a garden often depends on the area’s size and shape.

“If you have a long backyard and you want to draw the eye to the back, add some focal point back there,” said Andy Cabe, curator of horticulture at Riverbanks Botanical Garden. “It draws the eye, and you have something to focus on; it’s not a garden full of randomness.”

Using your focus point

-Focus on your room’s best qualities by choosing a focal point you enjoy.

-Decorate and “frame” a focal point with plants, curtains and art.

-Remember to try choosing the first thing you see or the biggest item for a focal point.


Creating a focal point

If your home doesn’t have a distinguishing feature or natural focal point, you can create your own. Here are some ideas of focal points you can add to a room:

-An armoire or other tall, large cabinet

-A beautiful Oriental or patterned rug

-A table with a collection of interesting pieces on it

-A dramatic mirror or fabric panel

-A collection hung on the wall, such as musical instruments, family photos, umbrellas or decorative hats

-A large, open shelf with collectibles interspersed with books and plants


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