5 living room focal points that aren't the TV - 'game-changing for how the room feels'

Give your living room a new focal point and refresh the space with one of these five ideas from the designers

A living room with a coffee table focal point
(Image credit: Heather Talbert. Design: Wendy Labrum)

The way you arrange your furniture in your living room can have a significant impact on the energy and ambiance of the room. Most of us end up focusing the room towards the TV, with sofas and chairs angled towards the tech. But giving tech such a strong focus might not be the best way to organize the area, and when your screen is turned off, you're left facing a big black square. 

We think there are other elements of the room that deserve to be the center of attention, so I've spoken to the designers to find out top five living room focal points to try that will bring a sophisticated centerpiece to your room, and that are game-changing for how the room feels.

1. Ditch the TV for a large mirror

A living room with a mirror focal point

(Image credit: And Studio)

Giving the TV pride and place on the chimney breast is a pet peeve of many designers. Instead of making the tech such a focal point in the space, consider moving furniture around, demoting the TV to a spare corner and putting a mirror on a chimney breast mantelpiece. 

'Hanging the mirror over the chimney breast is a traditional design decision and something you see often in old homes, especially Brownstones, and traditional French-style living rooms,' says Arianna De Gasperis of And Studio who designed this living room. The result is smart and elegant, and can even help your room feel bigger, bouncing the light around the space.

It might seem obvious, but the frame and way you hang the piece can really impact the feel too. I love mirrors that lean against the wall, bringing a casual feel to the space. 'This mirror in particular is quite large and really helps to reflect light and open up the space to feel larger. We decided to not hang the mirror and to keep it tilted against the chimney breast for more of a relaxed approach,' says Arianna.

2. Draw attention upwards to the lighting

A living room paper lantern light

(Image credit: (Image credit: Tom Ferguson Photography. Design: Luke Moloney Architecture. Stylist: STUDIO CD by Claire Delmar)

There’s no better way to create emphasis in interior design than a statement lighting piece as a focal point in a living room. Directing the eye upwards, the right living room lighting has the power to command attention, making the very most of the space, and even helping to make your living room feel bigger. 

Whether it be a sculptural chandelier, a series of cascading pendant lights, or even something simple, like this large globe-like paper lantern used in a room designed by Luke Moloney of the eponymous architectural practice, lighting is the decoration any home needs to make it feel inviting and luxurious. 

Size is an obvious way to create impact and draw the eye, but think about the material of your light fixture too. 'To create maximum impact in your living room, consider materials and finishes that complement the rest of the design aesthetic,' says CEO of New York-based lighting company, Gabriel Scott, Scott Richler. 'Warming metal tones and the soft illumination exuding from blown glass are natural choices, and add personal and bespoke touches by opting for various textures, colors and shapes when selecting your finishes.'

3. Shine a light on architectural features

Michael P.H. Clifford. Design: Romanek Design Studio

(Image credit: Romanek Design Studio, 1stDibs 50 2023 _ www.1stdibs.com (Image credit_)

Your living room might already have a focal point, you just might not have noticed it. Imagine the space without furniture and look to the walls and the architectural features of the space for inspiration. A living room fireplace is an obvious choice.

'Most people have a TV in their living room, and really you want to avoid that being the focal point as it is naturally quite dominant by its scale,' says Andrew Griffiths of London-based boutique firm, A New Day. 'Ideally, you look to the bones of the room instead to deliver a focal point in terms of architectural detailing. Often it's a fireplace.'

This space designed by Brigette Romanek is a perfect example of an architectural detail like a fireplace taking all the attention. It sits in the center of the space, flanked by elegant drapes. There is something super relaxing about this space, that can be enjoyed for its cooling color palette with beautiful marble surround come the summer months, and will bring a warmth to the room come the colder months. 

4. Direct the focus inwards to encourage conversation

A living room designed with a central coffee table

(Image credit: Heather Talbert. Design: Wendy Labrum)

If you're looking to encourage and stimulate conversation in your living room, direct the gaze to a central focal point to help guests organically interact with each other. A coffee table could be an obvious way to do this, placed centrally on a rug with chairs and sofas that face the piece. When it comes to whether to go for square vs round coffee tables, round is a great way to make everyone feel part of the conversation, or a unique shape with curves can feel like a sculptural piece of art.

This is the method designer Wendy Labrum of Wendy Labrum Interiors has opted for in this living room.

'In every space we design, we plan furniture layouts for all the different ways the room may be used,' says says. 

'In this living room where a young family lives, plays, lounges, and entertains, we wanted the seating arranged in a way that would promote conversation and interaction for both family living and entertaining.'

5. Use art as a talking point

A living room with artwork as a focal point

(Image credit: Nicole Franzen. Design: Gachot)

Finally, wall art is a great central point for your living room so don't be afraid to go big and bold with a large piece that you absolutely love. 

I love this room in this Soho complex designed by New York-based firm, Gachot, with the pop of cobalt blue decor informing the color palette and design of the rest of the room, and drawing the eye to the white wall as soon as you enter the room. 

Pick a piece that speaks to you for your spare wall and the rest of the design will follow seamlessly.

3 living room buys for a fresh living room focal point

Oonagh Turner
Livingetc content editor and design expert

Oonagh is a content editor at Livingetc.com and an expert at spotting the interior trends that are making waves in the design world. Writing a mix of everything and everything from home tours to news, long-form features to design idea pieces on the website, as well as frequently featured in the monthly print magazine, she's the go-to for design advice in the home. Previously, she worked on a London property title, producing long-read interiors features, style pages and conducting interviews with a range of famous faces from the UK interiors scene, from Kit Kemp to Robert Kime. In doing so, she has developed a keen interest in London's historical architecture and the city's distinct tastemakers paving the way in the world of interiors.