Feng Shui is a term that is thrown around quite a bit in certain circles. Interior designers and architects, decorators, and event planners frequently invoke the hazy concept of Feng shui when they describe their goals for a project, but what exactly is it? I’ve put together an extremely basic introduction to Feng Shui for you here. 

Image courtesy of decoist.com

Image courtesy of decoist.com

Feng Shui, or “wind-water”  is the popular name for an ancient system of philosophy which seeks to align the energies of people and their environments through mindful architecture and design, landscaping, and highly specific placement of buildings and objects. This system of thought and practice originated in China about 5,000 years ago and its key concepts are closely linked to another Chinese school of thought, Taoism.

Bagua Image courtesy of blogpad.co.uk

Bagua Image courtesy of blogpad.co.uk

In traditional Feng Shui, the stars and the cardinal directions are very important in determining the exact location of a given structure. Things like wind direction, soil variety and elevation also come into play, and even burial structures are aligned meticulously according to the principles of Feng Shui to ensure that yin and yang are  in balance, and there is a harmonious flow of qi, or “life force” energy.

This might all sound a bit involved, but don’t worry: You can still use the concepts of Feng Shui without first joining a monastery.  We all know the feeling of a room with “bad energy”, or the motivation-sapping effect of clutter in a living space. It’s probably a bit too late to align your home with the stars, but if you suffer from insomnia and find yourself kicking your toe on the dining room table every night on the way to the kitchen, it might be time to reimagine your space. There are plenty of little things you can do to turn your jumbled living space into a restful oasis.

Photo courtesy of lifehacker.com

Photo courtesy of lifehacker.com

Clutter

Clutter causes stress, and is associated with unfinished business and disorganization. Some of our possessions might also carry extra baggage in the form of unpleasant memories or feelings that we’ve associated with them. You don’t have to toss all of your prized possessions, but a good rule of thumb is, if you own something that makes you feel bad, get rid of it!  It’s also important to maintain a positive flow of energy throughout your home by keeping pathways free of clutter and obstructions.

Photo courtesy of HGTV

Photo courtesy of HGTV

Color, Art , and Decor

One of the most important things you can do to stimulate the flow of good energy in your home is using colors that are calming and soothing. You can use airy blues in the bedroom to encourage feelings of peace and tranquility, and earth tones in common areas to give the space a warm, welcoming vibe. Bolder tones like reds and bright greens can be stressful or over-stimulating, and should be used sparingly, as accents.

If you’re stuck with your wall color for the time being, you can decorate your walls with art that inspires you and reinforces your goals or priorities in life. Many people think Feng shui is by necessity impersonal or sterile, but the home is another manifestation of the people who inhabit it, and the art and decor that you chose in your home should reflect your personality and interests.

Entryway

Try to keep the main entrance or vestibule of your home clean and well-lit, as it will encourage a feeling of safety for you and your guests. In fact, every room should be bright, and bathed in as much natural light as possible. It’s also a good idea to air out each room at least once a day. You’ll be amazed how much better you’ll feel.

Photo courtesy of homeedrose.com

Photo courtesy of homeedrose.com

Living Room

Living rooms should be clean and bright, and the seating arrangement should preferably be in a circular shape to encourage community and conversation. The largest or most important piece of furniture (usually the couch) should be placed in a command position in the room and every effort should be made to conceal television sets and electronic devices, which aren’t really aesthetically pleasing (unless you’re a robot), and are thought  to give off negative energy. House plants are another great way to add positive energy to the room, especially if your living room gets a lot of natural light, and furniture with rounded edges is more inviting and promotes the flow of energy.

Photo courtesy of lovelivehealth.com

Photo courtesy of lovelivehealth.com

Bedroom

This might sound like a broken record, but bedrooms should be kept free of clutter (like envelopes and stacks of old magazines), and should be as clean as possible.  Use calming colors in your bedroom; aquamarine blues are a common choice, but you can use any color that you find relaxes you. Your bed should be in a command position, in a spot opposite the door, but preferably not in front of a window, and there should be plenty of room around the bed. Don’t stuff things under your bed, as this is considered a source of negative energy. You should also get rid of the TV and desk in your bedroom, if at all possible. This might be tough for those of you who like to work from bed, but restful sleep and work stress shouldn’t share a room.

Photo courtesy of examiner.com

Photo courtesy of examiner.com

Bathroom

Cleanliness is definitely next to godliness when it comes to this oft-avoided room. The bathroom is usually associated with negative energy, for reasons that should be obvious, so it’s important to keep it clean, bright, and well-ventilated. Ban clutter from this room, but add a couple of calming scented candles and a few sets of matching towels in solid colors.

Photo courtesy of spacefad.com

Photo courtesy of spacefad.com

Study or Workspace

Your workspace may be associated with stress, so it’s best to keep it in a secluded area of your home. Free your workspace of all clutter and distractions, especially your desk, and hang art that is inspiring to you, but not distracting. Your workspace should have ample lighting, and the addition of air-purifying plants may also help to increase your productivity. Your desk should face the door without being directly in front of it, as this position in the room with the most power.

Spring is here, so it’s the perfect time to reimagine your living space and make it one that works with you, not against you. I hope that some of you find these tips helpful, and I look forward to hearing about all of your adventures in Feng Shui!

Written by Lance Nguyen