116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Thinking about the design principle of emphasis, the picture of a fireplace with a television above it springs to mind. What is it about a fireplace that attracts a television? I understand why practically, especially during Iowa winters, but the television doesn’t make sense aesthetically.
Emphasis creates a focal point in a room. The focal point is something visually significant, attracting and sustaining a person’s attention. It should be clear for all to see. It should be striking.
The fireplace frequently becomes a focal point as it is a prominent feature. With textural stone or tile and wood detailing, a fireplace is attractive. It can be a work of art itself or the stage for display.
Many people hang a television above the fireplace. Whether it’s an instinct or what a person is used to, there is no rule saying a television hangs over a fireplace. A large black rectangle can overwhelm the space in size or color. When not in use, it doesn’t add anything.
How can people avoid a television becoming a focal point? Ideally, find an alternative location to the fireplace. Space is surely an issue for some, but others can find another spot. Choose materials with visual interest. A dimensional or textural wall will be enjoyable to see. Find something else to put above the fireplace. It could be art, a mirror or wall covering.
If above the fireplace is the only option, consider whether a dark paint or material on the wall could help disguise the television. Plan to recess the television so doors can conceal it. Perhaps a projector could be used on a white wall.
It’s possible for a room to have more than one focal point. A larger space with distinctive windows could certainly be one focal point. As the visual impact of the windows wanes at night, a fireplace could be a secondary focal point. A second focal point should be smaller so it doesn’t compete with the main one.
Focal point possibilities include a bar or built-in shelves. Art, lighting or furniture can be the emphasis. Paint or wallpaper can be a good backdrop for a focal point.
Whatever a room’s focal point, it should reflect the homeowner’s interests, personality and style. A television could check all those boxes. Then the television becomes an intended, rather than accidental, focal point.
Erin Owen graduated from the interior design program at Kirkwood Community College. She has worked as a commercial and residential interior designer. Comments: firstname.lastname@example.org