What is feng shui?
As we come out of Covid lockdowns and oppressive living it might be time to improve the energy, we live in. Many value the ancient Chinese art of feng shui for its positive alignment of energies and is a very popular reference in real estate orientation.
Originally, feng shui was widely used to orient buildings – often spiritually significant structures such as tombs. Other auspicious sites also adopted feng shui to maximise the building’s energy. Favourable sites could be determined by reference to local features such as bodies of water, stars, or the compass. Feng shui through the placement of objects and removal of negative energies has serious referent power.
The literal meaning of Feng shui is “wind and water” and has its roots in early Taoism. It is used to facilitate the flow of chi (also spelled qi) the universal energy present in and around us in the home, garden, office, etc. Feng shui works with things as they are to try to enhance life by bringing it into harmony and balance with its surroundings and energies.
Feng shui theory suggests everything has opposing energy; thus, Qi can be both good and bad. Sha qi is bad or harmful energy that is formed in negative situations and may lead to undesirable circumstances. It can stop the flow of Qi energy to you, your home and your workplace, as well as interrupt and destroy the natural cycle of energy.
Many cultures observe and attempt to obstruct negative energies and feng shui draws on Taoist cosmology to harmonise environments. Feng shui is structured on five natural elements that are the sources of harmony.
Feng Shui Elements
The five important elements of feng shui are wood, fire, earth, metal and water. These elements underpin the reasoning for the placement of objects in environments. It is believed that the historic elements have five generating interactions and these are fuelling, forming, containing, carrying, and feeding:
- Wood fuels fire
- Fire forms earth (volcanoes, ash, etc)
- Earth contains metal
- Metal carries water (buckets, pipes, etc)
- Water feeds wood (trees, plants, etc.)
From these elements and their generating interactions, feng shui educates the devote to plan their spaces optimality.
Signifies growth and vitality. Placing wood items in your space encourages personal growth – plants and wooden furniture add this element.
Denotes logic and intelligence. It supports knowledge and mental sharpness. Add this element to your space with metal frames or sculptures.
Symbolizes stability and balance. It helps to ground and stabilize. Bring the earth element inside with rocks, crystals and landscape imagery.
Represents wisdom and serenity. It helps with clarity and relaxation. Mirrors, reflective surfaces and aquariums are ways to add the water element to your space.
Indicates passion and energy. It’s representative of transformation, expansion and volatility. Use candles and red objects to enhance your space with fire.
The Bagua Map
According to feng shui belief, the positive qi energy in one’s life, environment and the living area should be balanced. Off-balanced areas or aspects of life can be readjusted with corresponding items and symbols in conforming colours, leading to a harmonious and balanced qi energy flow. The qi energy is supposed to improve life, while one is living in harmony with nature.
These principles are currently utilised in real estate by many stylists and real estate agents who actively advise how to make your home appeal to target audiences.
In feng shui, the Bagua template or map is used to stabilize, protect, adjust or restore balance by analysing or structuring space. Each section of the structured space is believed to relate to various aspects of life and is divided into categories concerning i.e. physical and emotional aspects of life like family, career, etc.
The goal of feng shui is to remove sha qi and common negativities include:
- Clutter is the biggest man-made sha qi. Feng shui theory purports that your living space reflects your life. A cluttered environment equals a cluttered mind and body. Clutter prevents qi from circulating. According to feng shui flowing energy is the basis of great moods and every kind of abundance.
- Broken objects need to be either repaired or discarded. Broken objects create sha qi and looking at a damaged property daily you feel broken as well. By either repairing or discarding the object, you are able to respect your home and start fresh with positive qi.
- Not greenery is negative qi. Including plants in your home or workplace can benefit your body and spirit. They infuse a space with life-giving energy and remove toxins from the air. The type of plant and its state of health will determine what type of energy it will activate. Spiky, thorny plants should be avoided. It is believed sharp points can cause arguments and general unease or discomfort. Dead plants should be removed as they will invite negative energy into your life.
- According to feng shui theory, art should always evoke positive emotions. Consideration should be given to what the art is actually “saying”; in other words, thought should be given as to what is depicted in the actual artwork itself. If artwork depicting disasters, wars, or other negative scenes creates angst within you, it should be removed. Also, ensure that the artwork is not hung too low on the wall as this can cause depression and low energy.
- Positioning of structural elements can create sha qi. Staircases placed close to the front door and entryways are very important. Both a staircase close to the entrance and a back door directly across from it will prompt the energy to leave, creating space for sha qi to generate. Placing a mirror on a side wall, or a large chrysanthemum plant in the front entryway will help to inject and refocus good qi.
- Sharp, threatening points in the home is also considered sha qi. Tables with sharp edges or chandeliers with pointy features, or even a display of exposed knives in the kitchen, will evoke feelings of discomfort and should be removed. Also, furniture that people bump into should be repositioned as feng shui would state that simply moving the offending fixture from its current position improves qi.
Feng shui decorating tips
Feng shui is a compliment to preparing your property for sale or lease and can produce dividends very quickly.
Keep furniture out of the flow of the space
As outlined in the removal of sha qi make sure that any furnishings are arranged so as to allow a positive flow around them – you shouldn’t run into the back of the sofa, or a dresser in bedrooms.
Be organized and tidy
Feng shui posits depression, and unhappiness can stem from clutter. Clean out drawers and cupboards that have been neglected and start putting systems in place to keep them organised.
Keep your bed away from the window
Feng shui is very strict about this. Your head should never be underneath a window while sleeping – the logic behind this is that both your mind and body need support, so beds should be placed against solid walls with no doors on either side. Furniture placement is extremely important when it comes to feng shui. The energy in this space needs to be tranquil and harmonious.
Leave space on both sides of the bed
Following feng shui, you leave sufficient room on either side of the bed for a safe and comfortable exit. Encouraging positive chi and flow requires easy access and this cannot be achieved if there is a wall at the side of the bed.
Separate work and rest areas
Attracting (and maintaining) positive energy requires consistent use of space. Setting up a desk in a bedroom goes against a strict rule of feng shui, which is to keep work and rest areas separate. A laptop next to the bed may seem innocuous but this theoretically destroys tranquillity. Set up workstations in a separate location in the house -as the kitchen is separated.
Use the Bagua Map properly
A Bagua map is an eight-sided energy map that identifies the areas where you could make positive changes. The map is most commonly aligned with the front door, as this is considered the “mouth of chi”, where all the energy enters into the home.
Feng shui dictates that the Bagua map should be used with a birds-eye view and drawn over the floor plan of the home.
Know your colours
Colours improve quality of life by boosting moods, eliminating stress, and increasing confidence. Red evokes passion and exuberance, conversely green suggests a sense of peace and calm.
Should you want to sell your home it would be wise not to emote colours and that is why white is so popular. White reflects light, it has no connection to negativity and it allows the purchaser or tenant to bring their energy to the spaces.
Incorporate a beloved piece up high
A piece of artwork that’s hung fairly high, or an interesting piece of lighting that’s elevated above the rest of the space, draws the eye upward, which is believed to be a mood-elevating trick.
If it doesn’t make sense in your space to hang artwork up high, try another eye-raising strategy, such as mounting window treatments near the ceiling or painting the ceiling a beautiful, soothing tone.
Arrange living room seating in intimate groupings
In feng shui, the idea is to promote conversation and relationships by organising the furniture accordingly. In large rooms, grouping furniture in smaller clusters facilitates closer ties. Include a surface for each seat on which inhabitants can place a book, a drink, a pair of glasses.
Place your sofa against a solid wall.
The wall furthest away from the entry is an ideal place for a living room sofa. This provides a clear view of the door for whoever may be seated there. A few centimetres of space between the sofa and the wall itself is beneficial to promote positive energy flow.
Choose furniture with rounded edges.
While a blending of shapes and angles is always good, both in standard interior design and in feng shui, some objects promote sha qi chi. Furniture should not have sharp edges and oval or circular edges are considered to have the best energy.
Use plants or other accessories to bounce energy back into a space
If you have a large window, specifically one that is oriented opposite a door, feng shui teaches that energy from the door’s opening will be pushed right out the window. In order to maintain positive energy in the room, use objects that will keep the energy inside. Drapes or window blinds work well but if you like the view or the natural light from an open window, consider placing another object in front of the window that doesn’t block the entire view – a potted plant, for example.
Light up the darker spaces
Feng shui states that all spaces must have access to light. It is argued that light activates energy and sets it in motion, conversely, dark is energy stagnate. Have plenty of lamps around to activate energy in all the spaces.
Make the room’s décor match its purpose
To harmony in your home, you’ll want to consider the actual uses of a certain space and then decorate accordingly. In a home office, for example, a feng shui office would be active and vibrant probably in contrast to bedroom décor, which will likely be more muted and serene.
Maintain proportion in all spaces
Having a huge dining room with a tiny table, or an enormous dining table in a shoebox-sized room highlights the importance of proportion and comfort. Feng shui embraces the concept that, in order for spaces to feel restful, they should be proportionate. Leave plenty of space for people and positive energy to move about.
Use reflective surfaces, but balance them out with warmer materials
Reflective pieces, such as mirrors, metallics, and windows, help to keep a space feeling energised, which is central to feng shui. However, too much décor bling can be distracting and overwhelming, so balance those gold and brass elements with wooden or driftwood pieces.
Balance masculine and feminine components
In feng shui, the goal is to have positive energy and also be restful. Balance is key in accomplishing this. A large wooden piece, like a bed or armoire, tends to feel heavy and masculine so you create balance with soft plush furnishings. The same can be accomplished with window treatments and outdoor spaces.
Whether you embrace feng shui or not it is a gentle interpretation of how to make your environment more comfortable and calming. After being confined to our homes for almost two years it is perhaps time for us to make those environments places we want to come back to rather than escape post covid.