Around this time of year, I always get an itch to change up my space and shake out the stagnancy of the previous season. But since a huge redecorating project isn’t the most financially sound idea for me (or almost anyone else in this economy, for that matter), small scale is best. Feng shui, a Chinese philosophy regarding interior-design principles, encourages such changes as a way to breathe new life into the home and push out negative energy. Its numerous, detailed rules can overwhelm even the most enthusiastic beginners, especially since many of them involve room placement (the bathroom shouldn’t be in the middle of the house, for example), and how many of us can control that? But there are basic principles of feng shui that many of us can bring to our homes, room by room.
Sleep experts will tell you that the bedroom should be free of distracting influences, and feng shui experts say the same. This room is an escape from the outside world, a place for you to physically and emotionally recover from the day. That means absolutely no TVs in there; if you must have one, keep it behind cabinet doors or covered up when it’s not in use. Try to limit the amount of electronic devices you have in the bedroom overall. Electricity is sometimes linked to illness, according to feng shui principles. Mirrors are another thing you should curb in the bedroom. They’re usually beneficial, according to feng shui, because they reflect energy around the room, but you want the bedroom to be as calm as possible. That means few to no mirrors and no big plants; the surroundings should be simple and soothing.
Achieving the right energy (chi) balance is essential in the bedroom. In the book Feng Shui Step by Step, author T. Raphael Simons notes that bed placement is the most significant choice of all. It dictates how well you’ll sleep, which affects everything from health to job performance to your relationships. Feng shui argues against putting the bed against or under the window, with the foot facing the door or window, or directly underneath something hanging above. Each of these positions negatively affects the flow of energy. The head should be against the wall, but the sides of the bed shouldn’t be against anything; that blocks movement as well.
Feng shui incorporates the five elements—wood, earth, metal, fire, and water—into its design principles. Not surprisingly, the bathroom is associated with water, which represents wealth and opportunity. To start, make sure faucets and pipes are leak-free; that signals a leak in your finances. Keep doors and toilet lids closed to prevent opportunity and positive energy from getting out that way, too. Light, pastel colors, bright lighting, fresh flowers, and scented candles make the room more inviting and friendly, as do mirrors. (Mirrors in this room are good, especially if it doesn’t have windows.) Above all, make sure the space is tidy at all times; dirt and clutter encourage bad energy.
The focal point of any kitchen should be the stove—that’s where the magic happens, after all. The food that’s prepared on the stove nourishes everyone in the house, keeping them healthy and better able to deal with what the world throws at them. It’s tied to success in life and ties us to the people we share it with. Ideally, the stove should be placed in such a way so that the cook can always see who enters the kitchen. Keep the surface clean and free of unnecessary objects. Don’t put microwaves directly above the stove; though that saves space, it also messes with energy flow.
In terms of colors, opt for reds, greens, earth tones, and warm shades of white and yellow. Clutter is the antithesis of feng shui, but in the kitchen, a junk drawer’s perfectly acceptable, as long as its contents don’t spread to other areas. Put knives and other sharp objects away from the public eye, as they foster anxiety. What should be on display are lots of fresh foods, like a bowl of fruit on the table, to symbolize your kitchen’s abundance. And if you’re using tools or plates that you hate, get rid of them; they increase negativity, too.
The Living Room
In many homes, this is the room that people enter first. Whereas the bedroom is a center of privacy and peace, the living room is a very public and lively space and should be designed accordingly. All chairs and couches should face the door so that those sitting in them can greet guests properly. Make sure that the entryway itself is free of clutter; since that’s the first place friends and family see—as well as the doorway to outside energy coming in—you want it to be attractive and welcoming. The room must be well lit to stimulate conversation; add mirrors, plants, fish tanks, and any number of objects that heighten chi. Don’t put the TV in the center of the living room; instead, put it off to the side and have a simply adorned coffee table (a plant or two, perhaps) in the middle instead. The point is to encourage interaction and create a bright, cheerful space.
Incorporating a little feng shui into your home isn’t as difficult as it seems, especially if you start with these small suggestions. But it’s important to remember that change must happen slowly and deliberately; otherwise, you risk energy imbalance and chaos. Try making a few alterations and seeing how they affect your mood in that room. If you feel a lack of positive energy, look into wind chimes, candles, plants, and other objects that promote healthy chi. If you’re overstimulated, take out some of these things. However you make changes to your home, do so with a sense of purpose and mindfulness. Be aware of the way each room makes you feel. That, more than anything, will guide you toward a more positive atmosphere. And what better way to welcome a new season than with fresh surroundings and a fresh attitude?