Home Decorating For Dummies
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Creating a focal point in a room without architectural elements (like a fireplace or beautiful window) can be challenging. A focal point makes a room feel inviting, provides balance, and is the basis for your decorating. Many newer homes have plain, boxy rooms that lack architectural interest. Establishing a focal point is worth the effort, because without one, a room will feel disorganized and messy.

First, decide how you want to use the space.

  • Do you want to host the neighborhood Super Bowl Party? Use a large entertainment center, bar or armoire, as your focal point.

  • Are you more likely to host a wine and cheese tasting party? Then you might want to go with a lovely sofa, accented with a high stack of pillows and with a large, important painting hanging above it.

  • In an entrance hall, a beautiful mirror placed above a small table or chair reflects light and provides a practical place for you to check your grooming before you head out the door.

There's no right or wrong object to use as a focal point. It can be anything that you want to be center of attention. The choice is up to you. Just be sure that all other furnishings in the room are positioned so that they help the focal point stand out and not clash with it.

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Katharine Kaye McMillan, former senior editor of a New York City-based national magazine, is a writer whose work appears regularly in magazines and newspapers. She is a contributing writer to internationally circulated Florida Design Magazine. She is the co-author of several books on decorating and design, including Sun Country Style, which is the basis for licensed signature collections of furniture and accessories by three leading American manufacturers and importers. A graduate of the University of Texas in Austin, she holds a masters degree in psychology and is a doctoral student in psychology at Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, Florida.

Patricia Hart McMillan is a nationally known interior designer, whose interior design work for private clients, designer showcases, and corporations has appeared in publications worldwide, including the New York Times and USA Today. Known as a trend spotter and for clearly articulated views on design, she is quoted frequently and extensively in both trade and consumer publications. She a ppears on TV and talk radio. A prolific writer, she is coauthor and author of seven books on interior design and decoration, with Sun Country Style signature collections of furniture based on two books. She has taught decorating courses at several colleges and conducted numerous seminars across the U.S. She is decorating editor for Christian Woman Magazine and reports on design trends for The Sun-Sentinel, a Tribune newspaper based in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. She has been editor-in-chief of two publications and was head of a New York City-based public relations firm representing some of the most prestigious names in home furnishing and building products. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English, with a minor in art history (with an emphasis in architecture), from the State University of New York (New Paltz). She was awarded a certificate from The New York School of Interior Design.

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