Design + Decor, Design Tips, Kitchens

Focal Points Make the Difference in a Kitchen: Choose Wisely

“Choosing Wisely” is the theme of this last installment in our series on creating the kitchen of your dreams.

Given the myriad number of decisions that need to be made during the kitchen planning stage, it is easy to get distracted with all the cool choices and stray from the big picture.

The best thought to keep in mind is “FOCAL POINT”.  Notice this is not plural (points) but singular (point).  Not everything can be a WOW factor.  Most choices need to play second fiddle to your primary focal point.  That is, unless you are a proponent of the more is more, maximalism to the max point of view.  You know who you are, and I’m not talking to you today 😉 . But for everybody else, this post explains how to figure out your focal point and how to address the rest of the kitchen to play well with it.

That being said, I have shared a few kitchens with multiple focal points that aren’t an example of maximalism and which actually do work well. I’ve noted them below.


Whatever flooring you choose–hardwood, brick, stone or tile–the patterns and colors in your floor will  ground the room with interest underfoot.


Black and white graphic tile makes a huge style statement in both of these kitchens.

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(left): Iconic designer Bunny Williams created a show stopping custom terrazzo floor with the help of terrazzo specialist Durite for the glamorous Manhattan apartment she shares with husband John Roselli.

(right): More terrazzo, but this time the floor shares the spotlight with the backsplash. This is a good example of having two focal points (floor and backsplash) that because they are made from the same material play in harmony with each other and in a sense become a single focus.

Design by Bunny Williams | Photo by Stacey Bewkes | Quintessence


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Chevron floors are such a beautiful choice, but note the difference in these two photos. In the kitchen on the left, the chevron floor is a focal point, a standout paired with muted marble and. It adds to the beauty of the kitchen.

In the kitchen on the left, the gorgeous marble backsplash, island and range hood together form a single, albeit busy, focal point. The chevron floor, while beautiful on its own, is a poor choice here because the pattern adds to the busyness of the space. Your eye doesn’t know where to land. A simple floor would have been much better because it would not have competed with the marble above.

Designer Unknown | Photo by Davide Lovatti | House & Garden


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(left): The floor, island and ceiling are all interesting in this kitchen but since they are also all muted they work well in this mostly white kitchen.

(right): How cool is this half chevron, half brick floor?! Done in a soft and subtle palette, this statement floor whispers at style and is a nice complement to the pretty blue cabinetry.

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Islands can definitely be a focal point in a kitchen. Sometimes it is just the island countertop that stands out, and sometimes it’s the design of the island itself that makes it a standout.

Here is the “to die for” kitchen island in designer extraordinare Jamie Drake’s New York apartment. Not only does the kitchen open directly to the living room, but the custom, two-tiered island is set on an angle, has cabinetry finished in gold leaf with an overlapping table in Corian with gold inlay and features colorful stools and statement pendant lights designed by Drake himself.

Jamie Drake is my all time favorite design hero because he not only does exquisite work but each project fits that client perfectly.  Some designers have exquisite recognizable styles (think Kelly Wearstler) and are loved by many, including me. Kelly is also one of my favorite designers. Her work is phenomenal. I can always identify a Kelly Wearstler project.

What is unique to Jamie in my opinion, is that even though his style is very “Jamie”, he translates that style so perfectly for each individual client making the space truly the client but with his fabulous perspective.

Here’s another view of this spectacular kitchen.

Natural materials, such as wood and marble, or even a combination of the two, as in the first photo, make an island a beautiful focal point. In the second photo, I love that the island is completely comprised of a stunning marble, which also finds its way to the backsplash in this kitchen.

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Design by Blakes London | Homes & Gardens



Colorful or geometric tile backsplashes, as well as those that match the countertops, are all trending in 2021. Which is your favorite?

(left): Set against a stunning emerald green tile backsplash, the copper pots in this kitchen really stand out.

(right): This gradient transition backsplash is a work of art in and of itself! Gradient transitions offer subtle movement between similar hues or bolder jumps between contrasting color palettes.

In this condo reno, we placed hexagonal tiles in varying shades of brown, copper, gray and white in a random pattern to form an interesting and unique backsplash.

Design by Marcia Moore | Photo by Suzy Gorman


(left): Designer Bobby Berk, in collaboration with West Elm, designed this iconic loft in Kansas City’s Firestone Building used in Season 3 of Queer Eye. Love the fabulous tile they chose, not only for the backsplash, but for the entire wall of this industrial space.

(right): In this very sophisticated kitchen, the designer chose to match the flooring to the backsplash, and it is stunning and unusual all at once.


Color, open shelves, glass doors, glass and metal, cabinet box with no door — they all make a kitchen so much more interesting.

Here are a few kitchens that do all of these kitchen cabinet trends really well.


I love, love, love glass doors, glass and metal and open shelving.  But please, never, never put open shelving next to the range, which you see in so many kitchen photos.  Steam and grease can destroy this look in a few short weeks.  Use glass doors next to the range for an open look.  Open shelving or glass helps make small kitchens seem larger and large kitchens more interesting. The trend is for fewer upper cabinets, so keep the storage but show it off.

(left): The best of every world! Metal cabinets with glass fronts and beautiful tile showing through!

(right): Another great example of metal and glass shelving!

Wooden open shelves are also a beautiful alternative to traditional cabinetry.

(left): Love the mix of materials here: the contrast of the wood with the marble and the gorgeous brick surround.

(right): This sleek and simple open shelving is so beautiful in black and allows the fabulous marble backsplash and countertop to take center stage.

If you prefer to hide your pretties behind doors but still want a splash, you might want to opt for color. Colorful cabinets are another design trend that I’m really excited about!

(left): Pretty French blue makes a beautiful and soft style statement in this kitchen.

(right): Yes, black is a color, and it’s a hot and haute hue in today’s kitchen. While solid black can sometimes appear plain, in this case, the bead board upper cabinets and curved end to island create additional interest.


Great architectural details are stunning focal points. Here are a few that really stood out to me in these kitchens.


How beautiful are these stunning range hoods? I’m not exactly sure, but I would guess that the hood on the left is either patterned ceramic tile or stamped tin, and the one on the right is probably copper.

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Stone walls and statement windows are fabulous focal points.

Design by Nina Magon | Photo by Julie Soeffer | House Beautiful


The window is definitely the statement in designers Nate Berkus’s and Jeremiah Brent’s kitchen. Everything else is secondary but perfectly complements the window.

Design by Nate Berkus & Jeremiah Brent



Sometimes the focal point is overhead with a statement ceiling.

(left): The rustic beams on the ceiling of this farmhouse kitchen are balanced by the white cabinetry and dark slate floor.

(right): More rustic beams in this kitchen, plus an awesome stone wall, means two amazing focal points that work in tandem seamlessly.


A statement making colorful appliance may be all the focal point you need!

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So, as they say, rules are meant to be broken, right?

This kitchen is exquisite and, yes, it broke all the rules.  Statement floor, check.  Statement island, check.  Statement cabinets, check.  Statement backsplash, check.  Statement ceiling, check.  Even statement lighting which we never talked about.

Why does this work?  The floor and ceiling are very interesting but very muted.  The material used for the island base, countertop and the backsplash is the same, and the gold cabinet and range hood color is repeated as bands of color in the island.  This is a classic three-tone color scheme – shades of black, green and gold.  Perfectly implemented, understated elegance.

As you can see, a focal point can be just about anything you want it to be in your kitchen. What inspires you and grabs your attention? The Ceiling? Floor? Appliances? Backsplash? Countertops? Island?

Whatever you love, we can make happen. Let us help you find your focal point in your dream kitchen. Give us a call at 314.395.1114 or CLICK HERE to send us an email.

By the way, we’re back running full speed at Marcia Moore Design, but if you still prefer to work virtually, we understand and can do that, too. Whatever works best for you and makes you the most comfortable is great with us.

Stay safe and healthy,

If you missed them, here are the four other posts in our Designing Your Dream Kitchen series.