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At 103" tall, the Napa grand wall, by Aspenhome Furniture, is ideal for a living room with high ceilings... and meets all the criteria of the perfect focal point.

A living room’s focal point can be more than just pretty to look at. It also gives a room  purpose and guides furniture placement!

Unless your living room design has an obvious focal point (a large fireplace, unusual windows), you’ll need to create one. How? Select an object that promotes the room’s main activity. A handsome cabinet makes TV-watching easier, a unique area rug under a sofa and chairs invite together.

According to interior designers, the perfect focal point in a room should meet eight criteria…

#1. Nice to look at!  Being the center of attention, a room’s focal point needs good design and detail. If choosing furniture as a focal point, here’s a tip. The Ancient Greeks insisted that the most beautiful objects had a ratio (between top and bottom sections) of about 2/3 : 1/3. Given how important a focal point is, it helps if it meets classical standards!

#2. Well lit. Recessed lighting within the focal point, or accent lighting on the focal point adds art gallery-like drama.

#3. Personal. Adding books, picture frames or  favorite objects above or inside a focal point makes it unique. Adjustable shelves in a cabinet are ideal for customizing your own display.

#4. Useful. A focal point with a purpose does double duty! A fireplace adds warmth. Furniture with drawers adds storage. Cabinets with glass doors keeps media components dust-free and the remote control working!

#5. Without a bad side!  There can’t be any unfinished sides on furniture thats also a focal point. If a tall piece of furniture is visible from a balcony, the top must look as good as the front!

#6. Next to seating. Whether a fireplace, window or TV wall, focal points should draw us like a magnet, making a convenient, comfortable place to perch nearby… whether a chair or full seating area.

#7. Scaled for the room.  A focal point needs to be right-sized for the room! In a large living room with high ceilings, a tall piece of furniture will look more proportionate. In a small room or one with low-ceilings, a low, wide unit will look more proprotionate… and make the ceilings look higher!

#8. Unlike the wall behind it. Focal points that contrast the color or texture of the wall behind it stand out. Objects with sculptural, or three-dimensional qualities add extra drama.

In most living  and family rooms, watching TV is the main activity! A  grand cabinet, like the Napa grand wall (above) houses a large TV without making the TV itself the focus of the room.

Having to raise your voice to be heard by guests sitting in the same room is always a bit unfortunate… especially in a room that’s all about conversation!

This living room suffers from the ‘furniture sprawl’ typical of many big living rooms. The furniture is spread out to line the walls and fill the space, with nothing the right distance from anything. Sadly, intimate conversation… or a feeling of warmth… won’t happen here. 

An over-sized living room needs a tight furniture arrangment so items (and people!) don’t float aimlessly around the room.

If you’ve got a large living room, here’s how to make it work!

 * Pull the furniture into the center of the room. Use the extra space to create a walkway around the furniture rather than in front of it. Or move it to one side and use the other side for a second seating area, game table, grand piano or office area.

 * Place furniture in an  L-shaped or U-shaped seating cluster, with end tables to fill in the corners. A sectional makes a great choice. Use an area rug to anchor, or visually keep the pieces together in the large space.

 * Embrace empty wall space! It’s more appealing in a large space than small pieces of artwork or furniture scattered about. Make the seating area the major focus of attention, with a few large pieces of art or cabinets placed against feature walls.

Rooms to Rave About

We’ve got a few problems in this living room! The furniture and colors choices are good – casual, but sophisticated. But the room is disjoint and looks too big for the furniture. Objects are scattered randomly around the room and electrical wall outlets are stealing our attention as much as the fireplace! 

But all can be fixed without spending a lot of money… probably less than $100. Here’s how…

1. Move the two black-framed pictures together over the fireplace mantel. Hang them 2-3 inches apart and 2-3″ above the mantel. This will create a strong feature wall and tie together the room’s white and black features. Take down the vases on the mantel – they’re too tall for the room and push your eye up to the ceiling rather than down to the seating area. The might work on the floor, on either side of the fireplace.

2. Move the end table closest to us to the top right corner. It’s awkward and in-the-way where it is now. If light is needed, add a floor lamp. In its new corner location, pair the table and lamp with an extra armchair or large dining table chair. Or place it between two extra dining chairs; it looks like there’s room. Hang the mirror (currently above the fireplace) with the group at eye level (when seated)  to create a comfortable reading corner.  This will fill the empty corner, cover up the white outlets and balance the sofa on the other side of the room.

3.  Purchase some good quality toss cushions for the sofa. Choose blue cushions that tie in the wall color, or mix blue with the fawn color of the sofa.

4. Add a large tray on top of the ottoman. A black tray would work, as would a woven or bamboo tray that ties into carpet color. Place a few books or some candles inside it. The tray will add interest and create an easy place to put a drink down.

For more home decorating ideas, visit www.roomplanners.com.

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