Could proper feng shui in your home improve everything from your sleep to your bank account? As practitioners of the ancient Chinese art tell it — yes.
At its core, feng shui is a practice based on the idea that humans are linked to our environments. So what we choose to bring into our homes and how we decorate can all affect the flow of Chi (or energy), which, in turn, can impact our health and our happiness.
Feng shui is a lot more accessible than you might think. All it takes is a few simple steps to “improve your feng,” as master practitioner Jennifer Bonetto of Real Feng Shui SOULutions in Santa Monica, CA, puts it.
“A lot of people assume feng shui involves buying a bunch of complicated tchotchkes — bamboo flutes, statues, and other trinkets that are supposed to balance energy,” explains Bonetto. “They’ll fill their house with this stuff and say, ‘OK, I’m feng shui-ed!’ But then they don’t get results.”
Here are some ideas for improving feng throughout your space, from the entryway to the bathroom.
Entry and exterior: The main doorway is essential in feng shui because it’s where energy and all of your opportunities (literally and figuratively) enter your space.
1. Maintain a 6-foot clearance. Everything within 6 feet of the front door — inside and outside — needs to be clear and clutter-free to help energy flow. Floor mats are OK, but avoid putting items like shoe racks and other obstructions immediately around the door.
2. Install solid fencing. Consider adding a fence or enclosure around the perimeter of a property to keep the energy pure and prevent negative energy from creeping in. Go for solid fencing rather than chain-link: “Picture energy like water, that can slip easily through the holes,” says Bonetto.
3. Add plants. Potted plants on the balcony or patio can help foster vibrant energy in and around the home.
Family room: Because it’s often the active center of the home and serves multiple functions, the family room needs to be flexible and conducive to both gathering and relaxing.
4. Add living things. Plants move energy and absorb negative vibes. Pets also are a good thing, because they move energy around in our homes!
5. Use varied shapes. Contrary to popular belief, feng shui doesn’t exclusively favor furniture with rounded edges. In fact, a variety of shapes is your best bet for achieving a well-balanced room.
6. Shed some light. Light activates energy, while dark corners and areas are thought to signify neglected parts of your life. Make sure you have enough light sources to illuminate the entire space, and try a mix of sizes and intensities.
Kitchen: The kitchen is the true heart of the home, a space you want to be as inviting and functional as possible so you and your family spend time there — and eat more healthfully.
7. Free up counter space. Stow any appliances you don’t use regularly to open up space and inspire more energy and movement.
8. Mind the stovetop. Unlike many feng shui experts, Bonetto discourages installing the stovetop or range on an island. “That arrangement is linked to heart problems and high blood pressure,” she says.
9. Purge a drawer. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by clutter and don’t know where to begin, try starting with a “give to charity” pile. Often, all it takes is this first step to give you the momentum to declutter your entire home.
Bedroom: There’s no place in the house where it’s more important to encourage a calm, serene atmosphere than in the bedroom.
10. Consider your bed placement. Avoid putting your bed against a wall adjacent to the bathroom or the kitchen; doing so is believed to negatively affect health.
11. Avoid large mirrors. When a mirror reflects the bed or any part of your body, it can cause insomnia. If you’re a renter stuck with, say, wall-to-wall closet-door mirrors, slide the doors open at night or install curtains you can draw before bed.
12. Conceal electronics. If you have a TV in the bedroom, unplug it and throw a towel over it. Also, keep laptops and cellphones off the nightstand so they don’t disturb your circadian rhythm; electronic devices are best stowed in another room while you sleep.
Bathroom: Maximize your Chi for a more relaxing, spa-like space.
13. Close the lid. Feng shui traditionalists believe that an open drain can sap energy (and money) from a space. The toilet is the largest drain in the bathroom, so keep the lid shut.
14. Go off-center. Shopping for a new home? Avoid houses with bathrooms that fall dead center in the floor plan. A centrally located bathroom is unlucky and thought to cause money issues, says Bonetto.
15. Try soothing shades. Red and black are activator colors that can ramp up your nervous system. Go with earthy tones to create a calm, rejuvenating atmosphere.