Fenshui 101 – Basics and Principles for Beginners

You know those homes that seem to radiate good vibes? What’s the secret? Chances are, it lies in the ancient Chinese practice of feng shui.

Are you familiar with those houses that just evoke a sense of positivity? The architectural design might not be extraordinary and the interior decoration may not resonate with your personal style, but as soon as you enter, an immediate sense of comfort prevails. What causes this intriguing effect? Primarily, it stems from the age-old Chinese tradition of feng shui.

The idea of feng shui can seem a bit opaque, but really, the philosophy is built on common-sense customs that make our homes feel happy, healthy, and harmonious. It’s centered on the belief that every object has an energy (or chi) and the way that we arrange those objects effects our moods and well-being. Some elements of a home have more yin, which usually means static, stable, heavier, and darker while others have more yang, meaning brighter, warmer, lighter, and dynamic. They key is to strike a balance between both.

Practicing feng shui in your own home can be as simple as decluttering or changing the placement of a mirror. Read on for simple tips and tweaks that will bring harmony, balance, and even an increase in value to your home. That’s right – feng shui has been known to bring in the Benjamins too.

Good ZZZ’s = Good Zen

Experts in feng shui agree – the bed is where the magic happens. And since we spend roughly 33% of our lives tucked under the sheets, proper bed placement is important. The perfect spot is diagonally opposite the door, but you never want your feet to point directly at it. Usually, this means your bed will be centered along a wall where the chi is optimally balanced. If this exact location isn’t possible, make sure you have a clear view of the room and door, and that your head is against the wall for a grounded sleep.

Optimize Your Entryway

The front door is very important in feng shui because it’s the gateway through which energy enters the home. If you can see straight through the front hall to the back door, energy is moving through the house too quickly. Think of energy, or chi, kind of like a person. It would be weird if a guest entered and immediately ran to the back of your home, so give them something to slow down for. Allow the chi to spread gradually and evenly around the house by placing an entryway bench, artwork, or a textured rug somewhere near the door.

You should feel at ease when you walk into your home, but if there’s a wall directly behind the door, it can make you feel stuck and under pressure. Hang a mirror there as a way of expanding the space.

If there’s a staircase in your immediate entryway, chi might rush up the stairs, depriving the bottom floor of positive energy. Add a runner or a piece of bold artwork at the top of the stairwell to act as an energy anchor.

Clear the Clutter

The rules of feng shui aside, everybody knows that a clean home is a happy home. We’re all guilty of letting junk accumulate from time to time, but clutter is a bad look for a number of reasons. Not only does it make us feel frazzled, but it also manifests dead energy, which can weigh us down emotionally. The key is to eliminate items that don’t serve a purpose and make sure that all clutter is neatly organized and out of sight.

Let the Light In

Because light represents the yang side of the equation, strong natural light makes us feel happier and more inspired. For rooms that get limited natural light, try using warm, incandescent bulbs that mimic the look of outdoor lighting. Or, you can always add another mirror. Try to position it to reflect a window, which will bring in extra light and hopefully, look out at a beautiful view.

Power Your Workspace

Even if you have little control over your work environment, there are small things you can do to activate chi and work more productively. If you’re in an office, place a plant on your desk and always keep it clear of clutter. If harsh fluorescents are what you’re working with, add a small table lamp. A desk that sits diagonally opposite a door is the optimal power position, but if that’s not possible try to be near a window. Avoid having your back to a door or your face to a wall. These positions can hinder creativity.

Consider Color and Symbolism

Feng shui color principles are connected to the five elements – earth, wood, fire, water, and metal. Experts recommend using your birthdate to see which element your energy falls under. If you tend to be aggressive, you probably don’t need tons of red in your space. Instead, add cooler tones like green for balance. Yellow and orange are both lively colors that can induce cheerfulness while purples and blues are soothing and stress-relieving. Using a healthy mix of cool and warm tones (especially earthy ones) can lead to general peace and stability at home.

Be Strategic About Art

Like color, the art and decorations we choose to display often symbolize our hopes, inspirations, and even our personal issues. You want to exhibit things that help you manifest your own desires, not things that remind you of failed relationships or incomplete projects. So before you hang a graphic painting of a hand holding up the finger, think about the energy it might release.

Play Around with Plants

Even if you’re not concerned with the elements of feng shui, plants simply make a space feel alive. And in ancient Chinese tradition, they represent growth, prosperity and good luck. While any piece of greenery is great, specific species of plants and their placement can make a difference. An upward pointing plant like bamboo can help boost energy in the right direction. If you want to feel calm, plants with rounded or spiky leaves are said to induce serenity.

Table Shapes

Since the dining area and kitchen are often places where people gather, the table shapes in these spaces are a large part of the room’s feng shui. Round shapes tend to be more yang and rectangular ones are more yin. If you often have small groups over for lively dinners, a round table is the more dynamic of the two and encourages chatty conversation. They’re best suited for open spaces and people who like to talk, play games, and party. Rectangular tables create a calmer, more formal atmosphere and are often better for lengthy, intimate conversations.