Create a Focal Point
If real estate and home staging, if you have more than one focal point to emphasize, even better.
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By Rosemary Sadez Friedmann
Scripps Howard News Service
Every room should have a focal point whether we're talking staging or everyday decorating. If it is not there architecturally, create one yourself. What exactly is a focal point? Take note: It is an element in the room around which the furniture will revolve. If you're selling your home and they are staged well, focal points can mean big bucks. A fireplace, a picture window or a fantastic view are examples of focal points.
What if your room doesn't have a natural focal point? Again, create one. Hang a great painting on a wall, hang an oriental rug on a wall. A large breakfront, etagere or armoire will do the trick also. Even a television set will suffice — particularly if it is a flat plasma one. Create a focal space with an area rug on the floor; then place the furniture on it. The focal point in a room can be compared to the verb in a sentence; you need one to make it complete.
Once a focal point has been established, the furnishings should be arranged in a fashion exalting it. In other words, when you are sitting in this room, your eyes should naturally and comfortably be looking at this important part of the room. The larger seating pieces should be placed first, as these will be boldest and most room-shaping articles. Add the occasional pieces to complement the larger furniture.
Here's a vocabulary word to add to your notes: sociopetal. Use it to impress your friends and your interior designer. It means arranging furniture to encourage conversation. The first step is to place seats no more than 8 feet apart. Farther than that will result in a need to shout to one another to be heard. Naturally, the seats should face one anther for eye contact. Of course, if you want your room to look antisocial, you will place seats back to back. This would be called sociofugal, another impressive word.
Every seat requires a table within comfortable reach. Coffee tables should be 14 to 16 inches in front of the seating, while end tables should be right next to the arm of the seat. The height of the end table should be as tall as the arm of the chair or sofa.
The most common furniture arrangement in a room is the "U" shape. The "U" or horseshoe layout is expressed in the furnishings while the open space is taken up by the focal point. Picture this: Focal point on the north wall, sofa on the east wall, another sofa on the west wall and a pair of chairs on the south wall. This is appropriate if the focal point is art, or a fireplace. If the television is the main attraction, you will want to have the most comfortable seats on the south wall in this scenario.
What about sectionals that are more "L" shaped than "U" shaped? Take the same room as above, place the sectional along the east and south walls and an occasional chair or two on the west wall.
(Rosemary Sadez Friedmann, an interior designer in Naples, Fla., is author of Mystery of Color, available at Barnes & Noble Booksellers and online.)
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