Column: The star of the room


A few days ago I was faced with a small tiling project that demanded a simple, unadorned tile. It was a small, boxy hearth that had a fabulous piece of art perched above the mantle.

The project had to be completed over the weekend so my tile sources were limited. Also, I was out of town so I was unfamiliar with the “good places” in the area!

I ended up at a chain home store in search of a benign tile that would recede and allow the fireplace mantle and art to star! A well meaning employee showed me options that would meet my needs with a minimum of cuts since I don’t do wet saws!

When I continued to migrate to the simple tiles, he redirected me to a multi color glass option. He insisted that I should make my project “the focal point” of the room.

I bit my tongue at the thought of making a box at the base of my fireplace the focal point at the expense of other fabulous options. I loaded my cart with my blah tile and headed for the check out.

This innocent conversation shed light on the fact that, although most understand the basic concept of focal point, they don’t understand how to use this critical design tool to create a fabulous room.

Technically, focal point is defined as the point at which all elements or aspects converge; the center of activity or attention. This leads to the question, just what should be the center of attention in a space?

The best focal points are often born of an incredible view from a window, a large piece of high contrast art, or a fabulous fireplace in the center of the room.

When you enter a space, stop for a moment and look around. What is the first thing that your eyes rest upon? Typically, this is the focal point. If there is no strong focal point in the room, it is time to create one!

Do this by deciding what stands out as the most interesting feature of the room…even if it does not qualify as a focal point. If there is no fireplace to build upon, the focal point could be a collection arranged on the center of a table, a large painting, or rich window treatments that embellish a ho-hum window.

Limiting color contrast to the area selected as the focal point will help to insure success.

Although a television is often easily visible from the seating arrangement, it is not an aesthetic focal point. It is a functional appliance and should be treated as such.