In Focus

How to create a focal point in a space

Teleisha Thomas

Teleisha Thomas

May 2024

Alessandra Smith of Alessandra Smith Design is an emerging interior decorator in Melbourne, focused on the curation of furniture, lighting, art and objects in high-end residential projects.

We visited Alessandra at Elwood Residence, a recently completed project in Melbourne’s bayside with thoughtful, layered interiors that are both timeless and soulful. Here, Alessandra takes us through how to create a focal point in a room.

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A focal point is the first thing you notice when you walk into a room. Rooms sometimes have a natural focal point like a beautiful view or an architectural feature. 

Alternatively, there may be no obvious focal point or there may be too many pieces demanding attention.

In this dining room, this large abstract painting by Greg Mallyon became our focal point which then informed all the other design choices in the space.

This piece became our focal point because of it’s placement, scale and colour. If we were to have hung this artwork on the brick wall, the colours would have competed with the colour in the bricks, causing it to clash and look visually cluttered. By hanging it on the dark timber veneer, the painting pops against the wall which helps command attention and draw your eye to it.

By hanging our focal point on the dark timber veneer, the painting pops against the wall which helps command attention and draw your eye to it.

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The colours in the artwork influenced the colours in the space. We chose to reupholster the bench seat in a tangerine coloured leather to pick up on the vibrant red hues in the painting. The fruit bowl on the table also references the work with it spherical base echoing the organic abstract forms in the painting. These design decisions further reinforce the influence this focal point has on the other elements in the room.

It was crucial that the other pieces in the space not compete with the painting or draw attention away from it. The choice of pendant light was very important as we needed something sleek that wouldn’t obstruct the view of the painting but that would still provide enough light whilst dining. This space originally had two large round pendant lights that were competing for attention and blocked the view of the painting. By replacing those with a sleek, black pendant, it allows the artwork to be seen and appreciated from all areas in this openplan space.

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Easy Chair G 1973, Verner Panton, produced by Fritz Hansen | Akari 33N Pendant 1950s, Noguchi | ND Trisse table, green side table, 1962. Re-issue by Great Dane | Smooth Table, corten steel, Nicole Lawrence


Alessandra Smith Design offers interior decorating for residential projects, encompassing home or colour consultations, art and object curation, or a full design service. If you would like to speak to Alessandra about your next design project, visit her website to book a consult.

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