Originating in China more than 6000 years ago, Feng Shui or “Geomancy” is a system governing the spatial arrangement of a room to allow for the flow of Qi (氣). It takes into account the layout, color, framework, and material of elements within the room. While the science behind it is fuzzy, many of its principles have been backed up by environmental psychology. Whether you believe in it or not, it’s a great guideline for setting up a comfy and attractive living space. So, why not give it a try?
Sharp corners and angles create a jagged appearance and obstruct the flow of a room. By moving your furniture to feel as a natural path gives a sense of interconnection and order. Each piece of the room should feel as a “Logical next step”, for example the bed may face the wardrobe, which is placed next to the mirror, then covering the room’s corner is the coat rack, and finally the door. Find the path of the room by examining your own movement throughout it on an average day. The furniture should also not be placed as to create strange sizing arrangements. A tall wardrobe next to a short side table with a tall mirror on the other side will look jarring. Having a tall wardrobe beside a slightly shorter mirror beside a short side table will give visual “steps” and be more pleasing to the eye.
Having nature around has a soothing effect and studies even find that more natural environments are better for overall well-being. Windows with pleasing greenery outside them can be a great way to visually add a natural element, but if the exterior space does not allow for this or the window is small you can place plants throughout the room. Plants can be a great way to fill in negative space or to round out the corners of the room. For the kitchen, consider herbs helpful for cooking like rosemary and thyme. In addition to plants, incorporating water such as small aquariums or indoor Zen fountains can soothe the feel of a room.
Electronics are an essential part of any modern home, but often their appearance is unattractive and can make the room feel sterile. Cover or hide your electronics tactfully to make the environment feel more natural. Place speakers behind plant life, put appliances away when not in use, use a cabinet that can hide the tv or place it out of the way on a wall. You don’t need to remove every piece of technology from sight, but minimizing their presence will create a more soothing room.
Decorations often have the opposite effect; they clutter up the room and draw the eye to areas it needn’t be. Keep decorations tasteful and conductive to the environment, place them with care rather than haphazardly. Choose objects that fit the “feel” of the room and ad a sense of interest. Instead of having many decorations, using just very nice pieces will allow you to appreciate their effect on the room all the more.
The lighting of your home is one of the most important aspects to the mood it gives off. White and cool tone lights can feel “urgent” or “energetic” while warmer tones feel “relaxed” and “comfy”. Use this to your advantage by changing the lighting depending on the room your in. Lights should be dim and warm in the bedroom or living room, while cool and bright in rooms that are more productive such as an office or gym.
A home is not just about its visual appearance, there’s many sensory aspects that go into it. A pleasant-smelling home is much more calming than an unpleasant or even neutral one. Use a diffuser with essential oils or incense to improve scent. The sound of water trickling soothes, use a Zen fountain for some atmospheric sounds. If you’re going for a more inhabited atmosphere, light house music and candles can be good tools for adding an ambiance.
Feng Shui considers five elements: Wood (木), Fire (火), Water (水), Metal (金), and Earth (土). By placing these elements in the different directions of the room, you can generate different effects. This is called Bagua. For example, placing fire on the south side of the room generates reputation and fame. Water in the north creates career success. Wood placed on the southwest generates love while wood placed in the northeast generates spiritual growth. The elements do not have to be literal, they can be represented through material or color. For example, a mirror represents water while roses and red objects represent fire. These objects can also serve to strengthen or weaken each other. Such as wood generating fire while water weakens fire.This becomes beneficial when you have an object that is generating a negative effect such as a water decoration placed on the south side of the home. By adding a wood element, you weaken the water which is having a negative effect and strengthen the fire element which is generating fame. Look up a Bagua chart for a reference guide to this practice.