The Art of Feng Shui

Create harmony in your space with this ancient Chinese practice
By Kamala Kirk
Katherine Carter Design/Submitted photos

Environment plays an important role in contributing to mental and physical health, and a home can be designed to have a positive impact on your life. Being happy is essential to well-being, and with many of us working remotely and spending more time at home these days, it’s crucial that one’s surroundings reflect the things that bring them joy.  

A person’s environment can have a major impact on how they feel and perform, which is why living or working in a cluttered space can negatively affect one’s mental health. Feng shui is an ancient Chinese art dating back thousands of years that is centered around the positioning and placement of various elements in order to create balance and harmony of “chi,” the energy or life force that surrounds us. 

Feng shui has become popular in the interior design world, and practitioners of feng shui believe that creating the ideal environment can go so far as to improve various aspects of one’s life including health, love and finances.

“The term ‘feng shui’ literally means ‘wind-water,’” says Katherine Carter, a celebrity interior designer based in Los Angeles. “It’s an ancient Chinese traditional practice that claims to use energy forces to harmonize individuals with their surrounding environment.” 

For those that are new to feng shui, Carter says the easiest way to get started is to become educated on the principles of feng shui.

“A bagua map helps you map out your home according to this ancient practice,” she says. “Feng shui is all about balancing different elements such as wood and water, and yin with yang. The bagua map, which translates to ‘eight trigrams’ in Chinese, is an important tool for creating this kind of harmony and balance throughout a space.”

According to Carter, feng shui divides the world into five elements: wood, fire, earth, metal and water. Each element represents certain traits, and aiming to balance them can help one thrive more in different areas of their life. 

“The most important aspect of creating a feng shui home is incorporating the five elements themselves,” Carter says. “These come from the Taoist tradition. The elements are five interrelated phases in life that work together to create a complete system. Typically when you feng shui your home, you balance these five elements. A good start is focusing on the three most vital rooms in your house, which are the bathroom, bedroom and kitchen.”

Carter says bathrooms are crucial because they can become energy drains. To prevent this, she advises keeping the toilet lid shut and the bathroom door closed as often as possible. With bedrooms the focus should be around the bed, so she suggests using a sturdy headboard for a greater sense of security and making sure the bed is against a wall for more grounding sleep. The kitchen represents wealth, abundance and health, so it’s important to keep it clean, free of clutter, and grease free.

Colors are another important aspect of feng shui and are representative of the five elements, which can be incorporated into one’s home by painting a room, creating an accent wall or adding decorative items.

“Red is the color that supersedes all others,” Carter says. “It’s the most powerful color in feng shui and is considered very auspicious. Red is often used to protect and clear a home or a person’s energy. It represents the element of fire and, because of its intensity, is considered a lucky color in feng shui. Use it in doses to redirect around the home.”

Carter says yellow is a cheerful and uplifting color while orange is considered a social color — happy, vibrant and eye catching. Both colors can induce hunger, so she warns not to put them in the kitchen area.

“Think of most fast-food chains and their color combinations are typically yellow,” Carter says. “It’s fascinating how color is used in marketing and advertising. It just goes to show how powerful what we may perceive a simple color to be affects our moods and cravings. It can also trigger the intellect, as it’s mentally stimulating.”

Green represents balance, growth, abundance and youthfulness, while blue establishes a sense of calm.

“It’s the color of the sky and ocean, and therefore gives a sense of vastness,” Carter says. “Purple has a feeling of royalty, wealth and high spirituality. White is all about new beginnings, purity and innocence. Black is introspective and represents a void; pink is the color of unconditional love, softness and receptivity; and brown is an earth tone and therefore nurturing and grounding.”

According to Carter, mirrors are also very important in feng shui and should only be hung in certain rooms of the house due to their powerful abilities.

“If you want to attract wealth into your life, place a mirror in the dining room because mirrors hold wealth,” Carter says. “Try not to have mirrors directly facing windows, because they can bring outside energies inside. Avoid having mirrors behind your sofa because they can hurt your sense of security. Mirrors in the kitchen can amplify negative energies, and if it’s facing the stove it can create a yin-yang imbalance. You should also avoid mirrors in the bedroom because they can stir up energy.”

Plants also contribute to feng shui, and to manifest more wealth, Carter recommends placing a fresh green house plant (a water feature or crystal will also work) in the wealth corner of the bedroom. When standing in your bedroom, the far left corner is the wealth corner.

“Any healthy indoor plant growing well is excellent for feng shui, encouraging positive energy,” Carter says. “Foliage plants with lush leaves are traditionally the best feng shui plants, promoting clean air and positive energy in living spaces. You can also put cacti in parts of the home that have existing bad energy. Cacti and succulents are known to ward off bad energy with their harsh spokes, but they also absorb bad energy more efficiently than traditional house plants.”

 If one is looking to enhance their love life, Carter says feng shui can also help with that.

“Your love corner is located in the southwest corner of your home,” she says. “Here you can pair items up whether it be two chairs, two candles or two plants. Two of anything will help create ‘couple harmony.’ And throw away any objects from a previous love if you haven’t already.”

Carter also shares some feng shui dos and don’ts to follow when building a home.

“If you’re fortunate enough to build a new home or purchase land, the house should not be built on a ridge, on a cliffside, at a river outlet, next to a bridge or highway, or at an intersection,” she says. “Avoid sloping behind the house. The most auspicious house direction in feng shui is south facing, which is good for light, chi absorption and family harmony. A mountain behind your home is a feng shui ideal for building, as it provides abundance to the front door. Street intersections, church steeples and tall buildings can direct negative chi energy toward you home and should be avoided. Don’t build near negative chi accumulations such as cemeteries, garbage dumps, hospitals, landfills or prisons. Cul-de-sac lots can create a pooling of chi energy that becomes stagnant and can’t enter your home easily. And homes positioned at the end of a street are in a difficult location since all the chi energy will rush towards your home.”

The 5 Elements

Wood (green) represents energy, passion, expansion and transformation.

Fire (red) represents personal growth and renewal.

Earth (orange, yellow, earth tones) represents safety and comfort.

Metal (gray, white, pastel shades) represents mental strength and intellectual abilities.

Water (blue, black) represents the flow of money and career.

Katherine’s Top 5 Feng Shui Tips

1. Declutter your home.

2. Learn about the five feng shui elements.

3. Let in air and light.

4. Choose the correct bed location. You want your bed situated so that when you’re lying in bed, you can see the door to the bedroom. However, you don’t want to be directly in line with the door either. Place diagonal from the door if possible.

5. Use plants for adding good energy.

Katherine Carter Design

Instagram: @katherinecarterdesign

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