I walked through the Houston Airport craving something to satisfy my travel hunger. Despite my diligence and growling stomach, I was suddenly distracted by this exciting "wood divider" between two rows of chairs in an open lounge. Wood branches twisted in all different directions that ascended to the ceiling. I was in awe. I thought, What a great piece! I could see this in my home, my entertaining space, or in my master bedroom. I was mesmerized by it. As I walked slowly around it, I gazed in appreciation, unaware of the people sitting in the lounge and probably wondering what in the world I was doing. I let out a small awkward laugh, snapped a photo with my phone and moved on.
Now, I realize that designers can obsess over things that many others don't even notice. I have spent many paused moments admiring a ceiling application, a texture on a wall, a pattern on a rug, and even synchronized lighting. The very thing that I am drawn to, however, is one of the elements that my clients hire me to create in their spaces. It's the statement piece. It's a focal point. These are items that are eye stoppers. It's that piece when you walk into a space and it demands your attention. It's that piece that many times inspires my entire design for a room. Not all focal points are created equal though. They can't compete with other items in the room. They coordinate with the all other items in a space, yet still stand alone. They're the diamond necklace that completes a fabulous outfit.
Focal Points can be an exotic rug, an accent chair with a bold pattern, a side table with ornate legs, a piece of artwork, an oversized bright vase, a centerpiece on your table, or anything that grabs your attention in a good way. Key words here: GOOD WAY. An eye sore is not a focal point. Those items officially become distractions. I'm laughing here... because I think we all know what those are! While I realize this is subjective and beauty is in the eye of the beholder, make sure your statement pieces consider today's design trends or serve as cohesive elements in your overall style. For example, if you have a very modern space with clean lines and bold patterns, adding an oversized, traditional oil painting with an ornate gold frame will not serve as a focal point. Just because something grabs your attention, doesn't mean it's a statement piece. Dining rooms are spaces we don't use on a daily basis, so consider a fun, oversized seasonal centerpiece that is eye catching. Perhaps you won't be sitting at that table each day, but as you pass by it, why not add a statement piece to put a smile on your face?
Focal Points can be fun and whimsical too. They can transform a stale and lifeless space to a fun and lively one! They also enhance the theme, textures, and colors in your space. You can surely have more than one focal point as well but it should still be a part of the overall style. When all of the elements in a space are considered and merge together, they create harmony and consistency. Here is my checklist of the items I review when designing a space:
- Wall color (since this is the largest surface space in a room, consider a color that is timeless.)
- Furniture (while all pieces don't need to match, they should coordinate.)
- Textures (can be on a wall, in fabrics, drapery & window coverings, a rug, flooring, etc.)
- Flooring (usually the second largest surface area, it should be something that
- Theme (if there is one)
- Color palette (can be the accent color or colored carried throughout the space in various items.)
- Statement piece / focal point (the eye stopper, the item that grabs your attention.)
- Accessories and décor (artwork, tabletop items, wall art, candles, etc.)
- Lighting (it's the frosting on the cake. No matter how great a space, it must be lit properly to
enhance the mood you wish to create.)
What I love about focal points is the freedom of expression they provide. Focal points are those elements in a space where you can really spread your wings! They have personality; they say something without uttering a word. For example, I had a homeowner when I worked on HGTV's "My First Place" who was a professional race car driver. So, I created a theme in his living room that was an extension of his love for cars. I printed out large canvases of his favorite vehicles, moments, and scenes that were all about racing. On the room's largest wall, I found an oversized metal sculpture of a car. This was my statement piece. I even created window treatment rods that looked like exhaust pipes on a car! It was such a fun space and most importantly, he loved it! It was an extension of him. The entire design was centered around that metal sculpture, which was the first item I found to inspire his space. So have fun with these focal points! I can promise you if find that statement piece and let is serve as the inspiration for your entire room, you're going to be happy you did.
Window Coverings can also serve as great focal points. Don't think of window coverings as merely functional. They are a key ingredient in any space! If you want to create a focal point in your window coverings, select a style that either has a bold color or vibrant pattern. Here are two of my top picks from the @Home Collection by Carriann Johnson:
Follow these tips when creating focal points in your home and your spaces will have that statement you crave!