Is there a favorite room or spot in your home to which everyone seems to gravitate? What about an area that looked promising when you took the space, but turned out to be unused or uncomfortable to be in?
Also... Is your business prospering, or is money going out, not coming in? These situations, which I encounter frequently on initial visits with clients, can be solved using the art and science of ancient Chinese Feng shui principles (pronounced fung shway).
We often hear the saying, "as goes our environment, so we go." Feng shui teaches us how to create harmony and balance around us. By taking a hard look around and opening up our environment to healthy energy (Chi), we can make changes in our work and living space that will create corresponding changes in our life.
Feng shui, which translates to "the wind and the water," is the Chinese art of correct placement. Practitioners believe that by arranging our furnishings and decor in a way that aligns with nature, we draw harmony and good health into our lives.
According to this ancient philosophy, the placement of everything from the front door to the toilet plays in our overall well being. The Chinese actually employ a Feng shui master before building or buying a home.
Most Feng shui experts stress the use of aesthetics and common sense in achieving the desired results and many new home builders seem to be incorporating elements of feng shui into their communities.
There are many stories that can be told about putting Feng Shui to use, but the following is a favorite since it created a favorable change in my own life.
Regardless of who you are or how old, everyone can appreciate the benefits of a beautiful, comfortable living environment; however, following the principles of Feng Shui go way beyond providing for a home or office's material comfort; it also affects your physical and mental health, your worldly success and even your relationships.
Despite the many misconceptions and contradictory advice you may have heard about this particular method, it is important that you have an open mind and use methods that are most comfortable for your particular situation.
Feng Shui, on the surface, is the interaction between an individual and his/her environment, and it is often referred to as the art of placement. Depending on how you place your furniture and represent the five elements (water, fire, earth, metal and wood), Feng Shui has a way of bringing harmony, balance and comfort into your living space, not to mention aesthetically appealing as well. The color green, for example, is excellent for improving health and balancing family. Incorporating blues into your Feng Shui design supports the energy of your career growth, and white will bring supportive energy for all of your creative pursuits.
To learn more about how to incorporate Feng Shui into your own home or office, take a look at this helpful infographic, provided by Soothing Walls. It is a basic guide that you can follow so you can better understand the principles of this ancient art and reap its many benefits.
My restless bedroom
Several years ago, I purchased an in-town condominium. I was immediately taken with the master bedroom suite, which had beautiful mahogany book shelves built around the closet door on an end wall.
I also loved the owner's choice of Hunter Green on the opposite wall, and purchased the gold-faced, deep paisley window blinds which had been custom made for the oversized window. This, I thought, will be the perfect haven for sleeping, working and reading; a comfortable space to which I can retreat.
In order to get a restful sleep and keep unwelcomed forces from entering the room while you sleep, place your bed where you can see the entrance.
After living in the space for several months, I found myself uncomfortable in the room. The cozy retreat I had envisioned had actually become a cold, unwelcoming space.
I began migrating to the guest room on several nights to work and sleep. I never felt rested in the morning, and I started to develop a negative feeling about my home. A few weeks later, after learning about the ancient Chinese philosophy of Feng shui, I was able to understand why the room didn't work, and why it was affecting my life.
The ideal placement is within sight of the door but off to one side for maximum protection.
The bookcases and placement of the heating elements had eliminated the best areas for the location of the bed, forcing it to be positioned immediately to the right of the door.
The problem could have been solved simply by hanging a mirror on the wall opposite the bed to reflect engery and provide a view of the entry. However, a few days work with a carpenter and electrician allowed proper placement of the bed (in a position with a clear view of the door) [above].
The Hunter Green, too dark for a sleeping area, was changed to a much warmer shade of persimmon, a color of luck.
After making the necessary changes in color and furniture placement, I began sleeping soundly, started feeling happy and comfortable at home, and experienced an increase in business.
Need to make some changes to your home? Start with color...
Do you need an expert to begin putting these principles to work for you? Not really. With a positive attitude, you can get a good start by using some of the following tips.
All of us respond to colors subjectively, yet the use of some colors seem to work with more success than others. As an example, the Chinese believe that red brings luck, probably the reason that Chinese brides wear scarlett. They paint their front doors red as an invitation to happiness. Pinks, plums and purples would have the same effect.
Green is considered to be a color of freshness, growth and peace, which makes it ideal for a bedroom. Dark greens, and other dark colors, are considered too heavy for indoor use. (Thus, the dark green wall of my bedroom made it a very bad choice, particularly off-balance against the stark white of the remaining walls.)
Light blues work well, but dark blue shades are thought to make one too introspective.
Yellow, the color of the sun signifies longevity.
White is a symbol of death for the Chinese. Overuse of white can cause what is referred to as a "white occurence," delivering too much cold energy. It is important to add pots of colorful flowers and other touches of color to offset this effect.
Our homes and offices, in line with Feng shui philosophy, can be thought of as a metaphor for or lives. A cluttered house is a cluttered mind. Get rid of the old and make room for the new! Therefore, according the Feng shui, the perfect entry is one that is clear of clutter and obstruction. Trim back all hedges and make sure that the path to your door is clear, open and well defined.
The stove is a central focus in a Chinese kitchen. If your back is to the door when you are cooking, place a mirror behind the stove to give you a view of who is entering the kitchen.
The chef's energy is imparted into the food, so for this reason, pay special attention to your mood when you cook. Rotate your use of burners for prosperity.
Bedrooms are sanctuaries for privacy, peace, protection and intimacy. Placing objects in pairs in this room is thought to increase marital harmony and balance (candlesticks, vases, etc.). Be sure to place the bed in the position that has the most commanding view of the doorway (the mouth of Chi). We are in a vulnerable state while sleeping and it is important that this area affords our being safety and support.
Your work environment should be treated the same as your home. Is your back to the door? If so, reposition your work area to face the door. Clear your environment of clutter to make room for new business.
Your work environment should be treated the same as your home. Is your back to the door? If so, reposition your work area to face the door. Clear your environment of clutter to make room for new business."
A client, who worked as a travel agent, came to me for help with her office. She had rented a beautiful, one-room space. The entrance wall had a long, narrow window at each side of the door. The opposite wall held glass patio doors leading to a large stone balcony with a spectacular city view.
She had chosen to leave the window clear and had placed her desk to left of the patio door, so that she could enjoy the view while working. She arranged a sitting area off center right to the door.
Since moving into her office she felt her business had dropped off. People checked prices and arrangements with her, but then, for some reason, booked with an agent across town.
Upon entering her office, a few problems were clearly visible. Her back exit was visible from the front entrance, allowing money and energy to flow straight through her office. She had also placed herself with her back to the entry.
The solution was simple. We set a trifold screen, with a wide center panel in the center of the large room and covered it with a red print. We placed her desk in front of the screen, facing the entry so that she could greet her clients. The opposite space created by the screen provided a sitting area where clients could browse material and enjoy the beautiful view. We placed a large mirror in the corner to the right of the door so she could continue to enjoy the beautiful view.
Not only did she experience a large increase in business, but also found that she accomplished a lot more with her desk in this position.
Start putting a few of these simple practices into effect in your own home and work environment. You'll find, as others have, that whether you believe wholeheartedly or not, these simple treatments of space and energy can make a difference in your life and work.
More? Go to part 2...
This is a three part article on Feng Shui. Nancy Uon is an interior designer, specializing in corporate settings in New York. She recently relocated to Litchfield County in Connecticut.