Timing is everything

Designing for Life: Feng Shui

You've heard about it - but probably can't pronounce it - and you may not know what it is - but you should. Feng shui is a Chinese philosophy concerned with arranging physical space to allow energy to flow properly, creating harmony and peace. This article considers some ways you can use feng shui principles to improve your life.

As feng shui consultant T. Raphael Simons explains it, feng shui is based on two main premises: first, that a person's state of mind and energy affect one's environment for good or ill; second, that the condition of the environment affects one's internal state.


Chi is the force of change and transformation from which everything comes, exists and returns. Chi comes in and out of your home through doors and windows, flowing through halls and rooms. Chi that flows without being obstructed creates sensations of ease and comfort.

The front door of your home is the most important passageway for chi. If your front door has a large obstacle positioned directly in front of it - a tree, lamppost, or even a hedge - chi is blocked, therefore blocking wealth. If you have such objects in front of your door, placing potted trees, statues, or other objects on either side of the door can create balance.

Clutter can obstruct the flow of chi, creating an imbalance that can cause your health and affairs to suffer and can impact on your emotions. For example, clutter near a doorway indicates a resistance to going out in the world. Chi stagnates when you have clutter under your bed (regardless of how neatly stored the items maybe) and creates harmful energy that your body absorbs as you sleep. Removing things stored under your bed will improve your health. If clutter is found throughout your home, you will have a tendency to worry too much about yourself. Your activities will take on a new vitality if you clear the clutter, discarding what is no longer useful and organizing that which you still need.

Design Tips to Enhance Chi

Arrangement of furniture and objects within a room influences whether chi flows smoothly in the room. Ideally, objects should be arranged to allow chi to circulate around the middle of your home and around the middle of each room.

To create the feelings of agreement and simplicity, furniture generally should be placed parallel to the walls. Couches and chairs should have their backs to walls. By sitting with your back to a wall, you will feel more secure than if you sit with your back to a window or door. (An extension of this principle can be applied in an office. If two people are sitting face-to-face with one of them sitting in front of a wall and the other sitting in front of a window, the one with the wall behind them will be in a more powerful position. Something to keep in mind next time you enter someone's office to negotiate something!)

Placement of the bed is the most important decision you'll make regarding the furniture in your home because the bed is where you recuperate your energy every night. There are a number of bed positions that ought to be avoided. For example, avoid placing your bed so that the foot of it is directly pointing toward the door - such a configuration symbolizes death (because corpses are traditionally removed from a room feet first). As well, the head of the bed should not be placed directly under a window because that is considered an insecure position. Nor should a bed be placed under a severely sloping ceiling (e.g., in an attic bedroom) because the chi of anyone who sleeps there will be depressed.

In the kitchen, harmful energy is created if the sink and refrigerator are adjacent to or directly opposite the stove. If the stove is positioned between the sink and the refrigerator, for example, there is a lack of contentment as well as obstacles to financial growth. To counterbalance such a configuration, an ornamental dish or tiles of green or light blue should be added to the wall between the stove and sink or between the stove and refrigerator.

Doors directly facing one another (for example, off a hallway) can lead to lack of privacy and conflict. These conditions can be neutralized, however, by using subdued colors and soft lighting in the area.


There's So Much More

This article only scratches the surface of the philosophy and practices of feng shui. If you are interested in learning more about it, your local library and bookstore are an excellent starting point, as there are dozens of books currently available on this topic.