What is Feng Shui?
Feng Shui explains the reasons why you may feel completely at home in a brand new place or never quite enjoy (but not know why) a corner of your own home. This approach can be applied to any style and does not require Chinese theme decoration.
Pronounced fung shway, Feng Shui is the study of the environment and how it affects people. There are four main principles that can be applied to increase feelings of relaxation and comfort.
1. Protect your back. When your back is protected you feel safe. When you are exposed your basic needs of protection and safety are not met and you feel vulnerable.
2. Reduce or soften sharp edges, points, and corners. Right angles and straight lines don't exist in nature but are common design elements in modern buildings and furniture. When we are in a space with sharp corners and lines, our instinct is to be on high alert to keep safe from harm (bumping into these).
3. Delight the senses with inspiration from nature. We are hard-wired to resonate with the natural environment. Spaces that lack natural images and materials (such as a bank) feel impersonal and cold.
4. Create balance as opposed to extremes. Anytime "too" can describe a room, there is certain imbalance (too dark, too colorful, too open).
IT MATTERS BECAUSE...
Applying Feng Shui principles to your home can improve your attitude and quality of life. You can feel freer, energetic, and your marriage can improve. It can also make your guests feel more comfortable.
Feeling positive about your internal and external surroundings impacts how you experience your daily life and personal interactions. Consider your home and what could be addressed or improved. Small changes to reduce vulnerability and unease on the unconscious level can dramatically increase comfort.
All rooms. Soften corners of rooms rooms by adding live plants. Plants not only provide color but also increase air quality. Utilize drapes around windows. Choose organic or rounded patterns as opposed to geometric shapes in rugs and upholstery.
Opt for artwork and pictures with scenes from nature (beaches, forest, mountains) over architecture to promote a feeling of calm. Choose wood, stone, and cotton over synthetic materials. Display fresh flowers.
Balance hardwood floors with rugs. Balance dark walls with bright lights, bright fabrics, and mirrors or offset light walls with dark hardwood floors and bold pillows.
Reduce clutter in your home. Clutter can create a sense of anxiety and lethargy, literally your clutter can bog you down. It hinders cleaning and in extremes can feel overwhelming. Each year consider a habit to donate, give away, or throw away anything you don't love, need, or use. Store away and rotate in decorative items that you can't part with.
Avoid hanging oversized and heavy items from the ceiling which can add to a feeling of anxiety. Shy away from huge chandeliers and hanging pots and pans in places where people will walk underneath.
Kid-free rooms. Creating kid-free zones can lead to a greater sense of peace in the home. Keep the children's possessions and artwork relegated to their bedrooms and playroom. Your bedroom, your office, the home gym, and the living room (if you also have a playroom or den) should not have toys, kid furniture, kid art work, Pack-N-Play, or a diaper changing station.
Living room and office. Select chairs and sofas with sturdy, solid backs that are high enough to shoulder or neck level but don't block your view around. Choose furniture with rounded edges and lines rather than sharp angles.
Arrange furniture with a clear view of the main door to the room, known as the Command Position. This eliminates any element of surprise and will allow you to feel empowered and more relaxed.
Bedroom. Select a solid (no slats or openings) headboard made of wood or upholstered and connected to the bed frame. This style of headboard gives a feeling of protection and security and can therefore provide better sleep. This can be applied to adults as well as children.
If your flooring is hardwood, place a large soft rug underneath the bed. Ensure it is large enough that expands beyond the sides and bottom so that your feet stand on it when you get in and out. This can create a sense of coziness and warmth.
Position the bed in a place that reinforces a safe feeling, ideally in the Command Position. Avoid arrangement directly in line with the door which can cause a feeling of vulnerability.
If you are a light sleeper, splurge on quality, soundproof windows to improve your sleep. If small noises outside (cars, people, branches tapping, or garbage cans falling) don't completely awaken you, they may keep your subconscious on alert which inhibits a deep and restful sleep.
Children's bedrooms. Children's rooms are their safe place. It is important to give them the autonomy to have some say in the decor of their room. Include positive and colorful artwork.
Consider the arrangement of the bed as well and if possible, push one side against the wall for a boost in a feeling of security.
Entryway. This is the transition area from outside to inside. Clearly define this area with walls or furniture and a rug. The entryway shouldn't feel open and exposed which creates a sense of vulnerability. Make sure this area is well-lit.
Outside. Avoid choosing a house with a downward slope or drop-off which can create a sense of vulnerability. In addition, avoid location on a busy street, within earshot of busy highways, at T-junctions, or below street-line.
Invest in the "curb appeal" of your home which sets a positive mindset when arriving and leaving home. Beautiful, orderly landscaping gives a sense of pride and accomplishment.
Make your entryway inviting with soft plants and a warm and bright front door. Utilize cheerful accent flowers to create colorful beauty and flagrance. Ensure your front door feels safe by being fully solid or with the window placed high and not too large. Maintain the door by greasing it so it doesn't squeak and opens easily.
Opt for curved rather than straight line pathways and flower beds. Soften straight lines with alternate plantings or natural-shaped pruning.
Make your house number clearly visible by ensuring it is large enough, unfaded, and not blocked. This will create peace and make you feel safe knowing emergency help, friends, and deliveries can easily identify your home.
Plant to provide nice views from your most frequently looked-out windows (such as the window above your kitchen sink or facing the living room sofa).
The five senses. Consider the five senses when decorating. Positively stimulate your sense of smell, taste, hearing, sight, and touch as much as possible. Welcome guests by planting aromatic plants near your entry way or lighting a candle inside. Consider texture in your choice of landscaping and underfoot. Select soft upholstery and balance hardwood floors with soft rugs. Use beauty as a feast for the eyes both inside and outside. Replace and repair what is damaged, clean often and keep tidy, and showcase what inspires you. Choose colors that invigorate. Add sound with wind chimes, fountains, or ambient music. Fill a small bowl of caramels near a sitting area.
Allow the natural sunlight to brighten the room by hanging shears. Utilize mirrors to echo the light.
In winter. Balance the cold with warmth. Outside, plant evergreen trees and shrubs and incorporate feeders to attract birds. Supply soft and colorful throws (blankets) around the home for easy access in every room. Decorate with warm accent colors.
In summer. Balance the heat with coolness and absence. Remove throw blankets and heavy decorative items. Place water accents around the home such as small fountains or cup & pitchers. Decorate with cool accent colors. Declutter and consider even removing pieces of furniture to create more space and airiness.
Feng Shui That Makes Sense by Cathleen McCandless
Excellent book that is a practical guide to applying the principles of Feng Shui in the modern world. Read this for more information on arranging furniture, height of the television, and best colors for the kitchen.
The Ultimate Beginner's Guide to Feng Shui on Greatist.com
Good article that illustrates optimal room arrangement and practical tips.
Feng Shui Your Bedroom on HTGV.com
Tips for decorating and arranging your bedroom for greater peace and a better night's sleep.