You’ve heard about a house having good bones or a creepy vibe but that feeling could actually be related to the concept of feng shui, an ancient Chinese practice of arranging things and spaces to achieve harmony and bring prosperity. I’ll admit at first glance, feng shui feels a little Goop-y but it also makes a lot of sense to keep your home in balance — does’t it?
WHAT IS FENG SHUI?
With age-old roots in early Taoism, feng shui loosely translates to “the way of wind and water.” Taoists believe chi is the life force in everything. This force is made up of two opposing and complementary elements that can’t be separated: yin and yang. By balancing these forces, positive chi flows freely and negative chi is kept at bay. Believed to be around 4,000 years old, the practice was originally used to identify suitable places to settle, farm, raise livestock and determine the best burial sites for relatives.
In time, feng shui became known as the method of balancing yin and yang by arranging furniture, decorations, buildings — and even whole cities — to improve the flow of chi. Today, many feng shui rules have spread into the home, often about what items to place near or away from doors and windows (places chi can enter or leave a room).
CREATING GOOD FENG SHUI
Experts use a compass-like instrument, the luo pan, to measure the magnetic direction of your home as one of the first steps to creating good feng shui but if you don’t have one, here are eight great tips to get started:
- Lean into the Elements // In feng shui, all materials are classified as one of five elements: water, wood, fire, earth and metal. To improve the positive flow of chi in a room, it’s important to add, move, subtract or mix one of these five elements. Fire, for instance, doesn’t mean you have to install a fireplace. Simply add warm tones in brown, red and orange to your decor — or light a candle.
- A Welcoming Entryway // The entryway, or “mouth of the qi,” represents how energy enters your home and life. Keep this area (both inside and out) decluttered, clean and well-lit.
- Clean Those Windows // Windows symbolized the eyes of the adults and the voice of the children. Be sure to clean your windows regularly to let in natural sunlight, which keeps the home more vibrant and energetic.
- Doors Are Portals // Doors are portals, representing your voice and communication in which opportunities can come into your life. Make sure that all doors can open at least a full 90 degrees, because if they can’t open all the way, you might only be receiving a portion of the opportunities life has to offer (and you might be closing yourself off, too). Make sure the flow of chi is as smooth as possible.
- Create Commanding Positions // This is a huge principle in feng shui because it governs how you can position yourself in life. Apply this principle to the location of your bed, desk and stove in a room. The bed, for instance, represents you, the desk is career and the stove translates to wealth. When you’re at these items, you’ll want to see the door without being directly in line with it. This commanding position means you are aligned to receive positive energy and the best opportunities.
- Remove All Obstacles // Create a space that’s clear of clutter and obstacles in your path. This can come into play with how you tackle a remodel or arrange your furniture. When you let go of what’s no longer necessary, you create an open space to invite new opportunity and a smooth flow of chi. Spaces get filled up naturally but the key is to routinely empty them so they can be filled up again.
- Add Plants // In feng shui, plants embody energy, introduce freshness and and add vitality to the home. Try adding a few succulents or eucalyptus clippings in a vase for an instant boost.
- Give Thanks // There’s a reason why Marie Kondo’s methods work and a lot of it has to do with giving thanks to the things that bring you (kor brought you) joy. In feng shui everything is alive, including the home. Thank your home for the shelter, rest, nourishment (and equity!) it provides.
If you’d like to go deeper into the theory of feng shui for your home, check out these 50 tips derived from thousands of years of results.