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  • Stephanie Donnelly

How to Create Beautiful Spaces

Updated: Sep 1, 2022

The focal point is one of the most fundamental elements in interior design. Put simply, it’s the star of the room. It’s the first place viewers’ eyes should land when they enter the room and it’s the emphasis point around which you build the rest of your design.

Highlight the best feature

Ideally, the rooms of your home have a built-in focal point. In that case, all you have to do is construct your design in such a way that highlights this existing feature. This also makes it much easier to decide how to layout the room. Some of the most common types of built-in focal points are the following:

Windows and outdoor views:

Views — especially eye-catching ones — are an easy choice for a focal point. Regardless of what else is in the room, eyes naturally travel there. If you’re lucky enough to have this type of view, all you need to do is allow the windows to be as big and unobscured as possible.


Fireplaces can really ground the room. Be sure to arrange a seating area around the fire and, if possible, use a bold piece of art above the mantle.

Built-in shelving:

Built-in shelving is a stunning focal point in any room. This kitchen design features custom built shelving as well as a hidden walk in pantry that appears to look like a normal cabinet. This spacious kitchen combines elegance and charm into one seamless design.

Vaulted ceilings:

While vaulted ceilings don’t seem like they require much in terms of design, it’s important to make sure they stay freshly painted and include a bold light fixture.

Consider creating your own focal point

Other times, there aren’t any built-in features to emphasize, and it’s necessary to create one of your own. This can be both challenging as well as exciting because it gives you a blank slate and allows you to turn your space into anything you want it to be.

Accent walls:

Accent walls have always been a popular option for a focal point. Typically, if there are no built-in features to work with, an accent wall can be created on the furthest wall from the entry into the room. Accent walls can range from bright, bold solid colors to anything with a pattern, or even plants!


A statement piece of artwork or mirror can carry a room by itself. In this case, you’ll want to make sure the piece you choose is big enough to suit the wall it’s placed on. It should be placed at eye-level and, whenever possible, you should add accent lighting to highlight the piece even further.


Kitchens and bathrooms tend to have their own standards for focal points. Usually, a tile backsplash — either in the shower or behind the stove — is the best choice. Again, just make sure it includes a bold color or pattern.

Statement furniture:

A large, statement piece of furniture can serve as a fine focal point. This is typically the case in dining rooms and bedrooms, where there is obviously a central piece of furniture in the room. Here, you’ll want to add accents like a centerpiece for the table or some throw pillows on the bed to help draw the eye.

Mistakes to avoid

In addition to knowing how to create a focal point like a pro, it’s important to know what traps to avoid. We’ve outlined some of the most common mistakes that have a tendency to muddle up a cohesive room design.

Having more than one focal point:

When a room has two separate usage areas for example, a kitchen and eat-in dining area, it can be tempting to create two focal points. However, that can confuse the viewer. Usually, the room should have one central focus, with a secondary if necessary. In that case, the focal point should be part of the primary use.

Forgetting to frame the area:

Even if your room has a built-in focal point, it’s your job to add extra details to ensure eyes always fall where they’re supposed to. Add extra design elements around your chosen point to draw attention.

Leaving out lighting:

Every focal point should have its own lighting source to help it stand out. The right lighting can make all the difference. Picture lights, track lights, or wall washer fixtures are three examples that can enhance or brighten up a focal point. They literally highlight a room, and can easily boost the room’s aesthetic and inviting atmosphere just like this custom kitchen design.

Choosing a focal point is one of the most important parts of interior design. It is the first thing guests see when they enter a room and it’s typically the center of your layout. Read more about the importance of focal points here. A few small changes can help take your room to the next level. Click here to view more examples of focal points in our portfolio!

~This blog was brought to you by S. Donnelly Interiors. Learn more about the interior design project process by following Stephanie Donnelly and her interior design services in Glen Ellyn, Illinois and the surrounding areas!


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