The ancient Chinese philosophy of feng shui seems mysterious, but it’s really about finding a balance between elements, and encouraging the flow of energy. One way this philosophy can be applied is in the creation and design of interior spaces. Here are a few pointers for beginners.
Incorporating feng shui goes deeper than Western design themes based on physical comfort or aesthetic. Feng shui emphasizes physical and mental health, success, and healthy relationships, all of which are brought about through positive energy flow.
Known as the art of placement, feng shui is about positioning different elements to optimize Chi, or energy. The term is comprised of two words: feng meaning wind, and shui meaning water. Both these elements are vital to human life, and also are expressed by their qualities of flow and movement.
The first step in designing with feng shui is to clear the energy that came before and still resides in the space. In Western terms, clear the clutter!
The next most basic part of the process is to ensure you have good air quality and natural light. This means removing anything that blocks light and air circulation in front of your windows, or providing options that allow in more light, such as sheers, in addition to drapes, which hold energy in.
Color is important in good design from every tradition. Use blues and greens in calming spaces, and reds and yellows to energize. Red is also known as a lucky color in Chinese culture, so utilize that to increase your luck.
Use the Chinese bagua map to analyze and create an energy map of your home. Traditionally this is based around compass directions, however, a Western method is to overlay your floor plan with a bagua map that has nine quadrants.
Align the front door with one of the bottom three squares, facing south, to maximize the sun’s energy each day. Then update each space according to its energy flow, by color and element in each quadrant.
Some general rules to go by:
- Look at the big picture of the whole house, or if you’re doing a single room, how the space flows into other related spaces.
- Place your bed, sofa and desk facing a door but not too close to it, to maximize power and minimize vulnerability.
- Don’t leave cabinet doors open – they stop energy flow through a room.
- Don’t place a mirror opposite your bed because it will reduce the energy in your romantic relationship.
- Don’t use spikey plants indoors because they deflect energy. Leave those outside instead, and use rounded-leaf plants inside, providing an additional benefit of clean indoor air.
Use modern décor items as feng shui cures for specific needs, or to encourage the right kind of energy in the space. There are five major elements that affect energy in feng shui, each representing different aspects of a healthy life:
Wood – growth and vitality
Use wood items in your space to encourage personal growth. Plants and wooden furniture are easy ways to add this element.
Metal – logic and intelligence
Increase knowledge and mental sharpness with metal items. Add this element to your interiors with metal frames and lamps.
Earth – stability and balance
Helps to ground and stabilize. Bring the earth element inside with crystals, stone items and landscape imagery or photography.
Water – wisdom and serenity
Assists with clarity and relaxation. Mirrors, reflective surfaces and aquariums can add a water element to your space, and are cooling in nature.
Fire – passion and energy
Representative of transformation, expansion and volatility – hot in nature. Use candles and red objects to enhance your space with fire.
My feng shui instructor shares that in the bedroom, it’s important to use things in pairs to attract a partner. One nightstand and one lamp isn’t appealing to a second person – it would make them feel as if you didn’t take them into consideration. Likewise, arrange your bedroom furniture so that two people can easily move around without conflict. This not only attracts a mate, but facilitates a healthy relationship.
Kimball Starr Interior Design can transform a single room or your entire home using feng shui principles. Contact her today for a consultation!