The centuries-old tradition of feng shui is more than rearranging your furniture around the room. It's about bringing good energy, health and happiness into your home. Based on the Chinese term wu xing, the concept of feng shui introduces the five elements – wood, fire, earth, metal and water – into your living space to create balance and bring energy that will help you achieve your goals.
There are two different schools of feng shui – classic or traditional and the western version, but a lot of the concepts overlap or are even identical. Your home has an energy map called the feng shui bagua and as you make additions or changes to the rooms under the feng shui teachings, you're strengthening different areas of your life. Some of the concepts illustrate the use of moving water, mirrors, metal and certain colors in different rooms to attract a specific energy.
In the end, it's about what you want to bring to your space. You don't have to embrace every single detail of the feng shui concept, but it can bring a little bit more order and calmness into your space.
First things first: Declutter
The first thing to tackle? Clutter. A clean, organized room allows for good energy to flow and harmony to enter. If you're a bit lost on what to get rid of or where to start, follow the commands from master organizer Marie Kondo. Hug it! If doesn't bring you joy, throw it in the discard pile or plan to donate it. It's hard, but a good purge does the soul good.
There's no need to dive deep into the complexities of this Chinese-born concept to embrace its benefits in your home. Here are a few easy ways to jump on board with the art of feng shui in three rooms in your apartment. Open up all of the windows and let's get to work.
In your bedroom
You want to create a peaceful environment in your bedroom in order to relax after a long day. Make your bed the focus of the room, not the clutter around it or the laundry stacked up in one corner.
Move your bed to a 'command position,' meaning you can see the doorway, but you're not directly across from it. If possible, place it against a wall.
Let's talk nightstands. Leave room on either side of the bed, but don't place it against the wall. Add warm lighting to the sides of your bed to create a relaxing mood before going to sleep.
If your bed frame is not against the floor and has room for storage, don't add boxes under it. Keep the space under the bed empty and let the air (and energy) flow around the bed.
Keep any desks or work-related items outside the bedroom. Your bedroom should be a place to rest and without electronics. Yes, we mean leave your iPhone in the living room and no TV.
All doors, including the closet, should be closed before getting into the bed.
Avoid having any plants in your bedroom. They're not good feng shui.
Add a humidifier or open the windows over the weekend to air out the room and increase air quality.
Finally, when purchasing linens and other pieces for your bed, stay within neutral colors. Most experts say to lean toward skin colors – from bright white to rich chocolate brown.
In feng shui, the north wall of your home is connected to your life and career path. Attract prosperity and success into your career by using the north wall of your office space, plus a few other additions like water and a vision board.
Moving water and mirrors helps good energy to flow into your career path. Add a cool, round mirror to your office wall and on your desk, add a small fountain. The running water is fantastic for your career bagua area.
Add metal accessories to your work area as this also nourishes the water element in your workspace. Add sufficient lighting to the space that fits in with the design of the room.
Create a vision board that shows your different goals, from people you admire to places you want to go. Place it above your desk, if possible, on the north wall. It needs to have a commandeering presence over the room.
Avoid elements of wood, fire and earth in your workspace, including large plants and the colors green, brown, red and purple.
Keep your work area clean and clutter-free, especially bookshelves, to prevent any energy interruption.
The feng shui needed for your kitchen will depend on which way the room is facing, but most kitchens face south. If your kitchen is south-facing, embrace vibrant reds, yellows and oranges. You can introduce wood elements as well – think wood cupboards and cutting boards. This will attract fame and reputation, according to the traditional teachings.
Avoid the color black and blue in your kitchen decor, if possible.
Learn more about feng shui
Feng shui is an ancient system of Chinese geomancy dating back thousands of years. In a simple translation, it means "wind water". Think of the winds blowing in a tree and waters flowing in a river.
The purpose of feng shui is to channel the flow of chi or positive energy. If you do it correctly, you can create a peaceful and radiant atmosphere in your apartment. When yin and yang are balanced, equilibrium is attained. Suddenly, you will feel happier and more relaxed.
Here are some core concepts of feng shui to remember:
Overcrowding creates negative energy: The natural flow of chi can be impeded by excess furniture. The arrangement of the dining set, sofas, cabinets, and beds should not hamper movement. Take time to measure rooms so you can purchase furniture which fits nicely. Use a storeroom to reduce clutter. Discard redundant things.
Know the purpose of each room: The toilet is for washing, brushing and other business. The kitchen is meal preparation. The bedroom is for sleeping and dreaming. Sometimes, you may use a bedroom as a study so you can to decorate and design it accordingly.
Determine the "command position" of each room: Where is the area where you spend the most time in a specific room? For the living room, it's usually the entertainment system because most attention is focused there. In the bedroom, it's the bed because it's the place where people spend the most time. In the kitchen, it's the cooking area. Once the "command position" is determined, the furniture and other objects should be placed in a way to amplify the purpose of the room.
Balance is the essence of feng shui: The placement of furniture is important to harness the positive flow of energy. Try to achieve symmetry. It's not a good idea to park all the biggest pieces of furniture on one side of the room. Mix it up to achieve a more aesthetic appearance.
Let the light in: Make a connection with the natural world. Pull up blinds and open the windows to allow light and fresh air into your home. This facilitates the flow of positive energy. Place some plants in strategic spots to promote health and beautify the apartment.
Below are some more great reference materials to help you learn about the roots and meaning of feng shui and how you can bring them into your own living space.
Muriel Vega is an Atlanta-based journalist and editor who writes mostly about technology and its intersection with food and culture. She’s the managing editor of tech news publication Hypepotamus, and has contributed to The Guardian, Atlanta magazine, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, VICE and more. She spends her time eating her way through Buford Highway and exploring Atlanta's arts scene.