Feng Shui might sound a little intimidating if you have never heard of it before, or if you think it involves expensive consultants or ancient texts. This guide will show you that it doesn’t have to be.
The art of positioning items in your home and paying attention to colour and materials is becoming more popular now than ever before.
It’s not all about knocking down walls and rearranging your home, but finding a balance that is good for you, your physical and your mental health.
What is Feng Shui?
An Ancient Art
There is a universal force that lives around us called “qi”, pronounced /ʧiː/, (like the first bit of cheese). Simply put, we are affected by the environment around us in many ways. These “invisible forces” bind together the universe, earth, and humanity.
Originating in China several thousand years ago, Feng Shui was originally used to position buildings and objects to make them as favourable or lucky as possible.
The Five Elements
You can’t talk about Feng Shui without paying attention to the five elements. Everything in your home belongs in one of these categories: Wood, Earth, Fire, Metal and Water. They all have their own properties, and when you pay attention to the way they interact, you can begin to harmonise your home.
- Wood encourages health, family, money and abundance
- Earth is responsible for love, marriage, spiritual growth and self-cultivation
- Fire relates to fame and reputation
- Metal stands for helpful people, blessings, children and creativity
- Water regards your career and path in life
Science or Belief?
There’s no need to think that this ancient practise is nonsense and superstition though. Like most systems of belief, a lot of good advice comes from common sense and experience passed down from generation to generation.
Whether you believe in the powers of Feng Shui or think it’s merely a pseudoscience doesn’t really matter. The important idea is that applying aspects of mindfulness to your everyday life can in no way be a bad thing. If you spend time and think about how to organise your home, it will always be a nicer place to live.
Its Relevance to You
Feng Shui touches on almost every aspect of life, and you can use it as you wish. You don’t have to become a fully-fledged practitioner to take good advice from thousands of years of study, and use it to hack your home. What one person may believe is some sort of magic, another believes is a sense of proportion and style.
Feng Shui by Room
To balance the flow of energy into your home, you have to look closely at the individual parts. Like a machine, your home has many rooms that act like the cogs. Small changes made many times multiply the positive energy and help to make a positive impact on the place you live in.
Let’s look at the different rooms in your house, and some clever tips for better Feng Shui:
It’s becoming clearer to us just how important our bedroom is in our lives. Seeing as we spend a third of it asleep, we should take all the advice we are given. It’s even said that good Feng Shui in the bedroom strengthens the bond between lovers, which is never a bad thing either.
- Where to put your bed. The most important thing in your bedroom deserves special attention. Your bed should be orientated to the South East
- No mirrors. Whether you spend hours studying your reflection in the mirror, or simply shoot a casual glance at yourself on the way out of the door, make sure it’s done outside of the bedroom.
- No work stuff. The bedroom should be a place of restful calm. You need to be able to separate the two main sides of your life. Work, and rest. If you are sitting in bed reading work emails or listening to voicemails, you are switching on your working mind
- It’s what gives us focus when we work and relaxation when we rest. You might not have enough room for a separate office at home, but you can still hide work papers and your computer behind a screen or curtain. Out of sight really is out of mind
- Unfinished business. The same problems can occur if your bedroom is filled with half-finished books. In fact, any work in progress should be hidden as it is a constant reminder to your awake self that you are
The room that represents family more than any other has to be the living room. It’s where you relax with your nearest and dearest and should be the room most filled with laughter and joy. A harmonious balance in your living room will help to make it more welcoming and a better space to entertain in
- Sitting on the issue. Arguably the most used item of furniture in a home is the sofa. The placement of it is important in Feng Shui, as it should all the sitters to see all new guests arriving. Place your sofa against a wall to give a commanding view of the living room
- You don’t have to be a Feng Shui master to understand the importance of a clear and focused living room. Piles of junk confuse energy flow and block positivity. Don’t forget that the process of decluttering itself is great for the mind and body
- Fireplace focus. Staring into a fire is a primal pleasure that connects us to our ancient ancestors, so don’t block up the best focal point in your living room. Giving yourself and your guests something to look at can improve your communication and connection
- Mirror image. Hanging a mirror can make the smallest living room expand to enormous proportions, when placed carefully. Mirrors duplicate whatever is reflected in them, so naturally amplify the contents of a room. This can work both ways though, so be mindful of what you see in its reflection
The kitchen is known to many as the heart of the home. Linke to health, wealth and happiness, it makes sense to get this room right. What feeds the stomach feeds the soul, and a balanced diet must be in the right direction for you to balance the energy in your home.
- The stove. If the heart of the home is the kitchen, then the heart of the kitchen is the stove. It’s where the transformation of basic ingredients into delicious food happens. Place your stove away from the sink and never directly opposite the entrance door
- Make it metal. The metal element is particularly at home in the kitchen. Calmness and clear-thinking are two properties that will benefit your cooking and your guests’ enjoyment of any party you throw. Stainless steel handles and light fittings can lift a traditional kitchen style
- Hide the knives. Sharp points and corners are usually bad Feng Shui, so make sure that your knives are well hidden from view. As vital as they are for preparing food, they can unbalance the energy of an otherwise harmonious kitchen
- Indoor gardening. A fantastic addition to any kitchen is an herb garden. In the same way that house plants are good Feng Shui, a living breathing entity in the corner of your kitchen promotes the wood element of nature
Your home office has to be a place of calm focus, or else how are you supposed to get anything done? Just as in the bedroom, you need to be able to separate your work and home life in order to be successful.
- Away from the bedroom. Physical separation of some kind is essential between your office and bedroom. Ideally, they should be on the opposite sides of the house, so that you mentally separate the two states of mind
- Light and airy. Working in a dark, stuffy office is terrible for productivity whether you practise Feng Shui or not. Good natural light in a home office combined with fresh air will improve the flow of positive energy, helping you to be productive and creative
- To improve the Feng Shui of your home office, you should project your success onto the walls with appropriate artwork and imagery. Pictures of family and pets shouldn’t take over from inspirational images of what you wish to achieve in business
- Desk with a view. If possible, position your desk so that you have a good view. Facing a wall blocks creative energy and shows you nothing but a roadblock in your way. Productivity will flow better when the view is inspirational
The bathroom is one of the places in your home that can drain away positive energy as fast as you can draw it in. It’s one of the more challenging rooms of a house to work on, unless you follow some simple Feng Shui rules.
- Reflect away negativity. Placing a mirror on the bathroom door facing outwards will reflect negative energy and low vibrations away from the bathroom
- Keep it clean. It sounds obvious, but a clean and fresh bathroom is a magnet for good Feng Shui energy. The opposite is true of an untidy or smelly one
- Chime in the energy. The metal element can be represented in the bathroom with a metal wind chime that supresses negative energy and creates a relaxing environment to enjoy
- Fix that leak. Leaking taps and dripping shower heads are terrible for Feng Shui. As they leak out, so does positive energy. Save money on your water bills and promote energy flow in the bathroom by calling in a plumber.
Your haven of peace and tranquillity. Your garden should be far from the noise and negativity of everyday life, and a place for you and your family to enjoy. A connection with nature is vital for your mental and physical wellbeing as well. Plan your garden out with the points of a compass.
- Your path in life and career are represented here. The water element can be harnessed with a fountain or other water feature like a pond
- North-east. This section of your garden relates to knowledge and spiritual growth. This is the optimum spot for meditation, so a quiet and reflective place to sit is encouraged
- Health and longevity are found in the east. If you’re likely to let a plant die, make sure it’s not here. In relation to health, this is the place for medicinal plants and healthy herbs
- South-east. Wealth and abundance are symbolised in this direction of your garden, as is the wood element. This area should be lush and green with few rocks and hard objects
- Success is located in the south of your garden. As the spot that receives most light, it makes sense that it is linked to the fire element. The right place for your barbecue then
- Your family and activity are what the west of your garden is all about. To satisfy the metal element here, you could add some handsome wrought iron garden furniture
- North-west. New people, socialising and light, metallic colours are the strongest here. More seating and conversation starting objects are at home in this area
- The middle part of your garden is to be left uncluttered and clear of objects that draw the eye. This empty space could be used for meditation or even tai-chi
Entrance ways and portals have special significance in Feng Shui. Inviting wealth, happiness guests into your home is about as important as it gets.
- Looking inward. A front door should always open inwards, not outwards. Your front door should welcome guests to your home, and if the first thing that they have to do is step back out of the way of your door, it can unbalance the entire building
- The right size. Good Feng Shui is about harmonious balance. Your front door needs to reflect the size of your home. If you have a large, three-story house it needs to have a door in proportion to it, so that the energy flows at an optimal rate
- Colour by the compass. A south-facing door should be red, north-facing should be dark-blue or black, east and south-east should be natural wood, west and north-west should be yellow and southwest and northeast should be white.
- Keep it looking good. As the door is seen as the “mouth” of the house in Feng Shui, it is very important to keep it looking good. A chipped, faded door is a terrible way to greet guests and the energy that flows into your home, so make the effort here
Feng Shui Colours
A colour scheme is important in any home, on order to promote mindfulness, focus and a sense of happiness.
This isn’t just wishful thinking either, as a lot of research has been put into how colours influence our behaviour. From the red skin of dangerous animals to the green walls of hospitals, colour can represent emotions, give warnings and even calm us down in stressful situations.
Red is probably the most auspicious colour in Chinese culture. It symbolises passion, sensuality and warmth and is closely linked to the fire element. Consider adding the colour red to your bedroom, but make sure it is a warm and earthy tone, so as not to make the room too active for proper rest.
The colour green has long been associated with nature, growth and renewal. Not surprisingly, the colour green represents the wood element. In Feng Shui, the colour green is closely linked with health and is commonly used in the bathroom, where a mixture of light and dark tones complements each other.
The other primary colour, blue, is calming, soothing and relaxing. Also at home in the bathroom, it is associated with clarity and inspiration that we need when we cleanse ourselves. Blue represents the water element, so it’s pretty at home in the room most likely to be filled with running water.
It’s important to remember that Feng Shui is all about balance, so don’t paint every surface fire engine red and think that it will work. A harmonious balance between the elements, colours and areas in your home is the most effective way to positively support you and your lifestyle.
Feng Shui Plants
Everyone knows that plants improve a home. They add colour, oxygen and show guests that you’re able to keep something alive. Their benefits aren’t just a myth though, scientific research by the University of Hertfordshire has shown a link between the green colour of plants and relaxation,
Plants have special significance in Feng Shui and symbolise the wood element. Having a living, breathing entity in the room greatly increases the positive energy flow and connects you back to nature without having to go outside.
If you are struggling with negative energy in a room, these are some of the best plants to choose from:
Peace lily. Spathiphyllum is a beautiful perennial house plant that is thankfully low-maintenance and very forgiving, which is great if you have less-than-green fingers. One of the reasons why peace lilies are so easy to care for is that you can easily see when one needs a drink. The stems and leaves droop down, only to spring up once watered.
Growing to nearly a metre in height, its delicate white flowers make it one of the most popular house plants around. But what about its secret power? It’s one of the best plants for purifying the air in your home according to research carried out by NASA, of course.
Money Plant. Crassula ovata, otherwise known as a jade plant or lucky plant, is a hardy succulent that, as its many names might suggest, will bring you prosperity and good luck.
Another NASA approved air scrubber, this bubbly little house plant can grow to an impressive size in the right conditions. Your money plant should be placed in the South East corner of your living room in order to maximise its positive energy flow and wealth attracting properties.
What is truly magical about a jade plant though, is that when a leaf drops off, it will root on its own and create a brand-new plant from scratch. This way you could breed new ones as often as you like, and give them as Feng Shui gifts, as long as you put them in a red pot.
Orchids. Orchidaceae are beautiful and distinctive house plants with a sweet scent that have been cherished in Chinese culture for thousands of years. Admired for its delicate flowers and range of colours, orchids are given as gifts and are known to promote luck for family and fertility.
Although not as easy to care for as a money plant or peace lily, if you follow some basic rules you have a better chance of keeping orchids happy and healthy. Never plant an orchid in soil, as they need a free draining medium. Special orchid potting mixes are available for this. Make sure they are kept in indirect sunlight and your orchids will live for a long time.
Violet orchids are considered to be the most beneficial colour for good Feng Shui, but you must place them in the south or south east sections of the house to align them with the wood element. This effect is magnified by placing orchids on your dining table, if your dining area is in the east of your home.
Your home is like a living organism, the many parts of it work together like the muscles, nerves and bones. If one is injured, the body suffers as a result. If you use this idea when you approach the ideas of Feng Shui, it makes more practical sense.
Whether you only make one change to your living space, or dedicate yourself completely to Bagua maps and the life philosophy of Feng Shui, paying attention to your home is a positive thing. If you can use colours, positioning and materials to improve your focus and calm, do it now and action real change in your life.