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Home Staging and Composition


Techniques > Home Staging > Home Staging and Composition

Focus | Locus | Lines | Angles | Separation | Connection | Zones | Whole | See also


When people are walking around your house, they see new scenes at every turn. These should be composed, much as a photographer or artist composes their picture.


When entering a room or looking at any other scene, the eye will be drawn to some point of focus. This may be the fireplace, a picture, a television or any other stand-out object.

The eye is attracted to areas of contrast, including things that are large or bright. Big pieces of furniture, large portraits, shining lights, all grab the eye. Red and orange are more attractive than blue or green. Make sure the focus is something attractive, not boring or personal (like a collection of family portraits).

When you look at a photograph, focus points often sit well at the intersection of 'thirds' lines. This gives four points you can use. Stand in key positions in the house, for example on the entry to the main rooms, and consider what will be the focus when arriving at these locations.


After finding a focus, the eye starts to wander around the scene and will do so in a predictable path, or locus. The easiest way to discover this is to do it yourself or, better, get a new person to stand there and watch where their eyes go.

The locus should be comfortable, with a natural progression around the scene.

There can be multiple areas of focus and the eye will flit between these. Generally, three points is better than two (which causes 'oscillation' of the eye). Too many things to look at causes tiring jumping around.


The eye will follow lines, such as the corner between wall and ceiling or the back of a chair or a line of objects. When it comes to the end of the line, if there are no other distractions it will keep going in the same direction.

Straight lines are easier to follow than bent lines. Gentle curves are easy to follow and feel natural. Diagonals often work well as they guide the eye through the scene.


Lines at right angles provide a sense of order and control. Too much of this, however, can be boring and seem too rigid. The house already will mostly be built with many right-angles in it, which makes lining everything up very tempting.

Strategic placement of furniture at angles can help break up the gridlock and create interest. It can also give more sense of space, leading the eye on diagonals, which are longer than sides.


When we look at the world we seek to separate out the different things in front of us so we can recognize and name them. This is done by following outlines. If you can see all of the outline then you can confidently name the object. When the outline is blurred or obscured, you may still guess, although this becomes progressively harder.

Separation is also created by space which holds individual objects apart. There can be a temptation to pack things into a room. Spacing fewer things out makes the room look both more cohesive and bigger.

Separation is one of the key principles of simplicity and is why de-cluttering is important. If your visitors can see what is what, then they will tire less and be more comfortable with what they see.


As well as separating, things visually connect together. When things overlap, this creates connection. Things which are close together, with minimum space between, are more connected than things which are further away.

Color separates and connects as well, enabling harmony to be created across an entire room. Items with similar colors will be visually connected. A useful rule for creating harmony is to only use three colors.

The same effect can happen with shape and purpose, for example in the connection between pictures on the wall or a set of soft seats.


By using the principles of separation and connection, you can creates zones, or areas of common interest and purpose. For example a table and chairs acts as a group, as does a set of easy chairs or a sideboard.

Some spaces lend themselves particularly to being zoned, for example window bays and other niches where people can sit cocooned by the walls and furniture around them, both private and connected to the rest of the room.

A common rule with photographs is to divide the picture into thirds and consider each third as a 'zone'. This can be done both horizontally and vertically.

In this way, distinct zones can be created within a single room. Lighting can be used to help creates zones. Light attracts the eye and shadows outside a spotlighted area act as a natural boundary to separate it from other zones. Different hues can also help to separate zones, as can strategically placed furniture, carpeting and so on.


In addition to the effects above, the whole scene must work together. Too many zones or zones that do not sit comfortably next to one another, for example cause confusion.

The scene should be balanced, for example a dark area on one side would be balanced by another dark area on the opposite side. Too much of one thing in one area without a counterbalance elsewhere imbalances the scene, which then feels strangely lop-sided.


See also

Home Staging and Space, Contrast principle, Gestalt Theory


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