Bedroom with a chair near open windows surrounded by plants

To feng shui or not feng shui?

LIVE brighter | 7 MIN READ | 2020-06-11

The more time you’ve spent in your home, the more in tune you may have become to things that feel slightly “off”. We’re not talking about the incomplete projects that are nagging at you – it’s more about the energy you feel when you walk into a room and the way things flow from space to space. If you’re noticing a certain imbalance you can’t put your finger on, it might be time to consider feng shui. And we’re here to demystify the principles behind this ancient Chinese philosophy so you can create harmony and balance in your home – no matter what size it is. 

What is feng shui?

white couch with a brown rug and glass coffee table 

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First, let’s take a moment to understand what feng shui is. It may seem like an “out there” concept, but it’s rooted in simple common sense practices that help keep our homes healthy and more organized. More importantly, it tells us how connected we are to our surroundings and how they affect our mood and well-being. That’s right, the way your furniture is arranged can actually cause stress, exhaustion and nervousness. 

My Domaine provides this definition of feng shui: An ancient Chinese practice of trying to create balance with the natural world in our interior spaces. It uses energy forces to create harmony between an individual and their environment. 

When you’re analyzing your home, you should follow a bagua – a feng shui energy map with eight sections: wealth, fame/reputation, partnership, family, children, knowledge, career, helpful people (with you at the centre). 

Keep in mind, this isn’t about renovating your home or radically altering it in any way. In fact, the tweaks needed for good feng shui can be very small, yet have a profound impact on your daily life. 

How to tell if your home has good feng shui

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Now more than ever, people are seeking mindfulness and wellness in their lives – and feng shui can play a part in providing both. So how do you know if your home currently passes the test? Check these rules:

• Curb appeal – if you live in a home, the overall appearance is very important. It should be painted, maintained, gardened and in good condition. If it’s lacking curb appeal, it’s low on energy.

• The neighbourhood – walk around the nearby streets and ask yourself: do my neighbours care for their homes and are they in good condition? Are the trees in good health? Does your home or building face empty lots, dilapidated buildings or a cemetery? All of these factors can affect the qi (life force energy), so best to surround yourself with life.

• Predecessor energy – who lived in your home before you? If possible, research any deaths, divorces, or health issues the previous owners experienced.

• T-intersections – best to avoid living at the top of the “T”, where there are two dead-ends.

• Flow to the front door – the front door is considered the “mouth of qi”, or how life force energy enters your home. Your door should be easy to find and clearly marked.

Commanding positionthis is one of the most important principles, particularly for the placement of beds. You should be able to see the door while lying in bed (with headboard against a solid wall), sitting at your desk or cooking at your stove. 

• Good qi – follow your intuition. You’ll know right away if a home feels “right”.

How to create good feng shui

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Creating good feng shui in your home can feel a little overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be challenging. The Spruce suggests these nine rules to help bring balance to your spaces, no matter what size they are. 

1. Brighten up your entryway – declutter, sweep, wipe down the door and shake out the mat. Make sure the space is well lit and bright by adding lightbulbs and painting a light colour.

2. Clean your windows – clear windows let in more sunlight, making spaces feel more expansive, vibrant and energetic. Remember to use non-toxic cleaners

3. Pay attention to your door – be sure you can open your door a full 90 degrees (i.e. nothing behind it) so you’re not blocking opportunities. Also check that hardware and hinges are functioning properly (no squeaking or difficulty opening) so energy flows in easily.

4. Assume commanding position – as we mentioned above, when you’re in commanding position, you’re in command!

5. Remove obstacles – all paths throughout your home should be clear. 

6. Be spacious – when you let go of clutter and let go of what isn’t necessary. That in turn invites fresh opportunities.

7. Space clear – different than being spacious, this is about “smudging” your home by burning plant material and cleansing the current energy. Try to associate it with a positive intention.

8. Introduce plants – plants embody life and connect us with nature. 

9. Go vertical – tall bookshelves to represent growth and expansion, no matter what parameters you’re working with.

10. Offer gratitude – thank your home for giving you shelter, a place to rest, celebrate, nourish and just “be”.

Decorating with the five feng shui elements 

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With all of the above rules in mind, there are also five feng shui elements to incorporate into your home for positive energy:

• Wood – harnesses the power of creativity and expansion while representing growth, birth, strength, flexibility and intuition. Decorate with shapes that mimic the column-like shape of tree trunks, and the softness of leaves and flowers. 

o Consider incorporating: fresh flowers, plants and trees, cotton fabrics, wood furniture.

• Fire – increases enthusiasm and leadership, and encourages expressiveness, inspiration and boldness. Too much and it can come across as aggressive and irritable; too little can seem cold. 

o Consider adding: candles, sunlight, shades of red, pink or purples, electronic equipment, animal prints.

• Earth – shows physical strength and order, while generating a feeling of grounding, balance and stability. An overabundance in a space can feel heavy and sluggish, and not enough can feel disorganized and chaotic.

o Add earth elements with: brown, green or sand tones, square and rectangular shapes, low and flat surfaces, images of landscapes.

• Metal – affects mental clarity and logic, and represents organization, focus, righteousness and analytical abilities. Too much can be seen as chatty and critical, while too little can come across as quiet and cautious.

o Enhance your space with: round or oval objects, any type of metal (iron, aluminum, gold or silver), rocks and stones, white, gray, silver or light pastel colours. 

o Try these tips from The Spruce for decorating with metal.

• Water – encompasses spirituality and emotions. A good balance brings inspiration, wisdom and insightfulness, while too much can make you feel overwhelmed.

o Consider adding: black or deep, dark tones, reflective surfaces like mirrors, wavy, free-form objects, water features including fountains and aquariums. 

Have a look at this room-by-room checklist from The Spruce to help make sure you’re incorporating the right principles in the right places. 

What about smaller spaces?

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No matter what how many square feet your home or apartment is, the same basic principles apply. Here are a few specific things Style Caster suggests you can do to bring good vibes in:

• Decorate with metallics – even if you’re not really into glitz, you can add metals (aka good vibes) through picture frames and accessories.

• Hang plants – no space for floor plants or trees? No problem! Follow this fun DIY tutorial and hang them on the wall.

• Paint the ceiling high-gloss white – that is, if your landlord approves. It’ll make your space feel bigger and brighter.

• Keep technology out of your bedroom – clears the air for restful sleep.

• Open your windows – again, clears the air and keeps positive energy flowing. 

• Burn candles and incense – easy to do and yummy air = good mood.

• Decorate your walls – hang things that make you happy so you feel good energy when you’re in the room. Just remember to hang them straight!

If it all seems a bit overwhelming, here’s the thing: Feng shui doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Take some time to truly look at your spaces through a new lens and read the energy of your rooms. Start by adding smaller things, like a pot of red flowers, a mirror or a shiny metal bowl. As you tweak and add, you’ll start to notice missing elements and the things that may not feel right. Most importantly, go with your instincts – and you’ll be well on your way to creating balance and harmony, good vibes and positive energy in every corner of your home.