“Feng Shui” is a term that gets thrown around a lot these days. You hear it a lot (mostly from people that don’t know much about it) in sentences like “That is SOOO Feng Shui, I love it!” and “This lantern is Feng Shui- it’s supposed to bring luck.” Feng Shui- the ancient Chinese practice of creating a harmonious energy balance in the home- has become more and more popular in the United States as many aspects of eastern culture enrich our society.
That being said, I will not attempt to fully explain every faucet of Feng Shui in this article. Feng Shui is a complex architectural and design endeavor worthy of a master’s thesis. If you were going to strictly adhere to Feng Shui principles you would need an architect to reposition doors, and in some cases whole rooms. Also, Feng Shui is considered to be a life-long endeavor and can require years of study to fully understand. However, by following a few simple basic concepts, you can make any room more peaceful, balanced, and energized (depending on your needs). I will attempt to lay out a few basic ideas and then give some tips for the “big threes” of any living space- the three places you’ll spend the most time in- the kitchen, living room, and bedroom.
Feng Shui is all about balancing “energy”- active or “yang” with passive or “yin”. It also centers around making the energy of the room flow freely from one area to the next. Energy here can be thought of as the thing that causes people to instantly feel a certain way when they walk into a room. When you walk into an office (provided you enjoy your job, of course) you feel motivated and focused. When you walk into a store you feel relaxed by the easy, flowing layout and calm, quiet music. The same can happen in your home. In your office you want to feel focused and ready to work- so you take down distracting decorations, paint the walls a neutral color, and probably face your desk away from the window. A few simple rules to apply to your home are as follows:
- Keep your home clean and clutter free: Every time you enter a room that’s cluttered, it creates clutter in your mind. You feel antzy, or the desire to get out of that space, and it’s hard to relax.
- When painting and decorating, avoid contrasting colors like red with green, yellow with deep or “true” purple, and blue with orange. While combining the two colors in a space brings out their intensity, it’s usually too much intensity. In a culture where home is usually the only place we can relax, such intensity is just agitating. Don’t be afraid to use bold colors, just use them in combination with colors that complement them, like reds with yellows and oranges, and blues with greens and purples.
- Walk into each room in the house, including the bedrooms. Does the room invite you to do what you want to do in that room? Is it an obstacle course to move through? Does it have lighting that is too harsh or too soft? Can clean air move freely through the room? These things (simple as they may sound) really are the basis of Feng Shui.
- Remember that certain colors have a measurable effect on the mind. Purple, for instance, has a tendency to suppress appetites and therefore is not a good color for the dining room unless the whole family is dieting. Likewise, pink would be counterproductive in the room you exercise in.
- Make sure both sides of the bed are easily accessible and the bed is not directly facing the door.
- Keep exercise equipment, TVs, and most electronics out of the bedroom (a small stereo is fine). These things are equated with yang (active) energy and are otherwise distracting to the two main functions of the bedroom- sleep and attentiveness to your partner.
- If a bedroom is Feng Shui, it excites and calms at the same time. A mixture of active and passive colors is a good idea- like white or cream with crimson accents.
- Clean air while you sleep isn’t just good Feng Shui- it’s also a key to better health. Clean air promotes healing (and your body does a lot of repairs while you sleep), clear skin, and healthy lungs.
- Have adjustable light sources whenever possible.
- Use natural blinds that allow you to block light when you want- try wooden blinds or roman shades. With most roman shades you can choose a color that reinforces your Feng Shui efforts.
The Living Room
- What you have in your living room will reflect what you do in your living room, but you should keep in mind that in order for it to be a comfortable space energy needs to flow through it. If it is an obstacle course rather than a relaxed gathering place you may find it difficult to have comfortable conversation with your company. I repeat, keep the clutter at bay.
- Is your living room a place where you sit and talk with friends and family? Choose “yang” colors- yellow, red, orange, or black. Keep the space open and easy to move in, but intimate. Lots of light also facilitates a feeling of openness, so if you have small windows keep the colors lighter and make sure your light fixtures are up to the task.
- Is your living room an area where you simply want to unwind with a movie at the end of the day? Bring the furniture a little closer together to keep the energy in a cozy “pool”, but still avoid clutter. Choose passive colors- blue, green, white, and purple.
- If you have large windows, use window coverings that help keep heat in in the winter and out in the summer. Go for a light filtering shade that will allow in some light to keep the space bright and welcoming.
- Keep the kitchen clean, bright, and welcoming, and if you have lots of gadgets find cupboard space for them.
- Flowers or a living plant provide a healthy energy for the kitchen.
- Yellow represents warmth and friendliness and, according to Feng Shui principles, aides in good digestion, making it an excellent choice for painting your kitchen.
There is more information available on Feng Shui than I could possibly list here. However, a couple of good, easy to navigate, and practical sites on Feng Shui are: www.thespiritualfengshui.com and fengshui.about.com.