Feng Shui includes many principles and suggestions, yet the main point is to create an environment that supports your daily life, health, aspirations or dreams, and lifestyle. Unfortunately the way I was taught Feng Shui nearly 40 years ago, it didn’t make sense to me nor was the essence of it boiled down to the main purpose or reason for doing it.
FUNCTION! BALANCE! ORDER! BEAUTY!
Heavy “weight” of the piano is balanced on the other side of the room with the cabinet – and a triangle with the large, dark coffee table distributes the weight of the pieces around the room.
Feng Shui is common sense. Make your home functional. Create rooms that feel balanced. Clear the clutter. Make it beautiful in your eyes – not your mom’s, neighbor’s, or friend’s eyes!!!
For years in my interior design and Feng Shui classes I told my students that using “Feng Shui” principles and objects is actually the last step.
First the home has to be FUNCTIONAL. If I told you to do something within your home, but in doing so it made it difficult to walk through your home or you couldn’t accomplish the necessary tasks within your home, you would be irritated with me. You might even send me “bad vibes” – intentionally or unintentionally. Use your common sense when doing anything in your home.
Second, we want BALANCE in the home. There are many ways to create balance, especially when we use Feng Shui. But let’s talk about balance through the eyes of interior design.
Look at your room. Do you have all the furniture against one wall? Maybe distribute items around the room. Does one wall hold all the TALL pieces of furniture? Or maybe there are several “heavy” pieces on one wall or one side of the room. Again, move them around. Try to have some tall or big pieces on opposite sides or maybe even placed in a triangle within the room like they are in the picture above.
The same goes for low furniture, dark items, or any items that “command” attention. Balance the room in order to have pieces of furniture placed around the room, not just in one area or side. What about artwork? Is it all on one wall? Try to make arrangements that have about the same visual weight on opposite walls. This also applies to having equal weight on both sides of a piece of furniture.
Order & organization in the entry or mudroom
Have any accent colors distributed around the room. Having all the color just on a sofa or one wall throws the room out-of-balance. We want visual balance in heights, colors, accessories, and style within each room. When we add Feng Shui into the mix, we often will incorporate the Five Elements or Yin/Yang Theory.
Creating ORDER throughout the home brings a sense of peace into the space. CLUTTER is a big issue in many homes. Often it is because the function of the task doesn’t have the proper furniture or layout to complete the task easily. File cabinets, containers, lighting, seating, and other necessary tools are usually missing or not conveniently located to handle the situation.
Setting up a regular time schedule to work on decluttering and organizing is often a tool used to help. I block off the needed time for these tasks on my calendar. When doing the work, I set several short time segments back-to-back instead of one LONG time to accomplish things.
As the phrase by Margaret Wolfe Hungerford in her 1878 novel, Molly Bawn, states: “BEAUTY is in the eye of the beholder.”
What do you consider beautiful? What style furniture do you like? Is it the comfort factor, sleek lines, or big & masculine? What colors do you like? What colors do you dislike? Do you like lots of objects on shelves and flat surfaces? Or are you a “less is more” kind of person?
This is a discovery process as we are constantly changing and growing. As we mature, are exposed to different cultures and lifestyles, and expand our consciousness in the world around us, our tastes and preferences evolve.
Creating a living room that is functional, beautiful and reflects your style is the goal in Feng Shui.
COMMON SENSE, STYLE, & REFLECTION OF YOU
The challenge with our lifestyle and way of thinking these days is we don’t use common sense. We are bombarded with advertisements and other people’s agendas to the point we often forget common sense. We have become brainwashed into thinking we “need” the latest product or device to make us happy and complete.
What’s your style? Do you even know? Many of the women I have worked with during my career as an interior designer have not a clue what style they like. They see a room display at a store or in a magazine and they try to mimic it in their home… but not quite! The cost, size (of the furniture or the room), color, or material doesn’t work for some reason. Hence, they are forced to change parts of the overall image. Bottomline, it just doesn’t work.
Why do you have the furniture you have in your home? Did you inherit it? Find it at a garage sale? Brought it from your college days? It was in your husband’s friend’s house, he didn’t want it, and told your husband to take it? These are just a few of the hundreds of “mistake” furniture my clients have had in their homes.
Ultimately with your home, using these common sense qualities of interior design – AND FENG SHUI – will improve your life. Yes, Feng Shui is the common sense aspect of interior design.
Make your home a reflection of who you are at your core essence. What are your values? What do you believe? What do you cherish? Where do you want your life journey to take you? How do you see yourself? Does your home reflect that image?
If you follow these principles, you’ll understand why considering and utilizing Feng Shui in your home will make you happier and help you achieve the life you desire.
My first formal introduction to Feng Shui was in 1985-1986 when I attended an Interior Design Conference. It was not a pleasant introduction. I tell that story in other formats. No one I knew had ever heard about Feng Shui. There were no books on it. And we didn’t have the internet back then either in order to ‘Google’ it to find out what it is or means.
The actual translation of Feng Shui is: Feng = Wind and Shui = Water. They are the two life force energies that have created the earth and are needed for us to live.
Originating in different forms throughout Asia, Feng Shui is a 4000-year-old philosophy/science/art, which examines the relationship between people and their lives and their environment. There are about a dozen different schools with many variations.
This is my definition of FENG SHUI:
“Feng Shui respects the personality and individuality of the person who occupies the dwelling—be it a home or workspace—and shares an insight into the psychological impact the environment plays on one’s life. This predominately Asian philosophy can help the Western culture learn and experience new tools to help us cope with many of our daily challenges without jeopardizing our own heritage. When understood, this information can build strong bridges to link Western businesses with their Pacific Rim clientele and the expanding global community.”
SCHOOLS OF FENG SHUI
As I stated before, there are several different schools of Feng Shui. Some focus on the geographical location. There are a few that include religious teachings, but not all of them include religion. Hence, Feng Shui can be used without jeopardizing a person’s religious belief. Still others are more ‘common sense’ based.
Schools using geographical locations might focus on the correct direction for a building to face. For instance, there are many books that will tell you you need to have your home facing South. That will make you feel good if your home is facing south. But if it doesn’t face south, there is a tendency to blame the house for things not going your way in life. Or the school might state you need to have mountains on three sides of you and face water on the fourth. Again, that’s wonderful unless you are in the flat lands or desert. Sometimes this school is called Landform, Armchair, or Four Animal Feng Shui.
Ba-Gua half image
Other schools use a ‘Ba-Gua’ Map. The word “Ba” means eight and “Gua” means sides. This map is an eight-sided image that lists the areas of life as well as the five elements, colors, and body parts. This Ba-Gua Map is used as an overlay on the building to locate those areas of life. You can then use the elements, colors, and awareness of the body locations to trouble shoot health issues and to improve your life.
As a Feng Shui Master (I became a Master in 2002), I have been taught all the different schools. I use them all at different times. Sometimes it is easier, or more practical, to use one school over another.
In future articles I’ll share more about these aspects of this intricate art, science, and philosophy.
If you have a specific question, send it to me privately and I’ll respond here.
I’m not Latina, yet the Hispanic culture is part of my heritage. Many of my childhood friends were Hispanic, although we were not politically correct back then. We said they were Mexican.
My father worked for the railroad often working the Swingshift. The trainyard was in the heart of the Mexican neighborhood. Several times a week my mom and I went there to have dinner with him around 9pm. Sometimes he worked the Nightshift, which meant it was a 2am dinner. We’d have tacos or tamales.
The beautiful California Missions feel like my religious home. Most of my friends were raised Catholic; well, except for my Jewish boy friends. I’ve experienced many healings in and around those Missions.
I took Spanish in high school. I was in my second year of Spanish when my father died. Señor Chavez took me under his wing helping me through that horrible time. He let me slide on homework and asked me to get involved with a community project he ran.
His project was helping the VERY POOR in Duarte, CA. As the Vice President then President of the Future Nurses Club, I created a way for our club to gather food and clothing. We donated it to these families. I spent many hours several days a week with them for months. My Spanish improved – although you’d never know it now. (There’s a whole wonderful twist to this story that I’ll share at another time.)
Moving from Southern California to Northern California I lost a part of my heritage. I forgot my roots. I forgot the numerous trips my father would take us on to Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico when I was between the ages of 9 and 12.
Blue 1955 Bathtub Porsche
My father had been laid off work for a while. During that time, he worked at a used car lot selling cars. I’d ride my bike the 2 miles after school to spend time with my dad. Then they “hired” me to wash cars and paid me for it.
When my dad was rehired by the railroad, he was able to purchase a used 1955 baby blue bathtub Porsche. Joining the Porsche Club, they had rallies and planned several trips a year to Ensenada. I was stuffed in the backseat of this small car, hunched over because the roof was so low.
Each trip I would find something I wanted and would purchase with my “carwash” money because I continued to work at the car lot washing cars.
One year I purchased a BIG sombrero, bongo drums, and maracas. Packing all of those into the backseat of the Porsche WITH ME was hilarious! Of course, that was the trip I got the sickest. We had to stop so many times! My dad had to pull over, we’d unload all this “crap” (excuse the language, but that’s what my dad said!) as we were on the side of the road, then I’d get out, throw up, get back in the car, drive 3 miles, then do it all again.
When I saw the “Cinco de Mayo” image with the sombrero and maracas, it brought back these delightful childhood memories – memories I haven’t thought about in decades.
I may not be Latina, but my heart and mind rejoice in my youthful memories of tacos and tamales on Cinco de Mayo with our Mexican friends and family. In honor of those wonderful days, I enjoyed tacos for dinner. Yet instead of the childhood Coke, tonight it was an adult beverage – a Margarita.
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As I have mentioned many times before regarding Feng Shui, the entrance to your home is one of the most important features – if not the most important feature – to consider when looking for a home with Good Feng Shui. We want the front yard to be beautiful, colorful, full of life and vitality with healthy trees and shrubs, free of weeds, an inviting walkway to the front door, an easy-to-see-from-the-street front door and an overall “welcoming” vibe to it.
Other qualities we want are:
– Meandering or curving walkways to the front door
– Walkways that start at the street, not just from the driveway.
– Have a door close to the front of the actual building, not tucked back from the front of the building.
– No building stretching out in front of the door on either or both sides – to the left and right of the door.
– The above blocks the GOOD Chi from finding the door and affects the occupants’ career options. One side blocks career options for men, the other for women.
– Mature trees, but not in direct alignment with the front door and the street.
– A cover over the doorway for protection from bad weather.
– Equal amounts of the five elements.
The five elements are wood, fire, earth, metal and water. We want a balance of these elements in the natural world around us (as well as inside.)
1. Wood = Green = Rectangles
2. Fire = Red = Triangle
3. Earth = Yellow = Square
4. Metal = White = Circles or Half-circles
5. Water = Blue or Black = Waves or Curves
Rate your front entrance using these criteria. For each one of the above qualities you have in your front yard and entrance to your home, subtract one from zero. Yes, you will have a negative number.
You’ll want to add at least one item that attracts “Good Feng Shui” for each negative item you have. Then start adding more items to create a positive number. A number around 9 or more will greatly improve the “good energy or chi” to bring you the Good Things in Life!
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Most of you don’t know that in a previous life I worked in a florist shop. It was during an extremely challenging time in my life. My son, Jeff, had gone to the Emergency Room at the local hospital all three days over the Labor Day weekend, each day with a severe headache. With a different doctor each day, it was a nurse that had been there everyday who finally insisted they do a CAT scan, only to find the root problem was a blood clot requiring surgery. Unfortunately Jeff died a few months later. The flower shoppe played a major role in my grieving, and ultimately my healing, from this traumatic even
To this day, several of the lessons I learned while under the tutelage of a wise British woman, Irene, and her talented floral-creator daughter, Adele, have contributed to my respect for, love of, and craving for flowers both inside and outside my home. The hospital where Jeff was born, and ultimately died, was just 3 blocks from this shop.
I quickly discovered the circle of life played out in this arena. Plus during the two months before his death, Jeff delivered flowers to unsuspecting souls whose eyes lit up and smiles unfurled as he handed bouquets, plants and a few stuffed animals to celebrate, delight and heal bodies, minds and spirits. (He also received tips from many, which helped him purchase a remote control car he assembled before his death.)
What I learned in the flower shoppe:
When there is a death, there is usually a birth within a 24-hour period.
Always start with a good foundation – a clean vase – washed with soap and water, or possibly bleach.
Use the food packet – the packets you get contain sugar (nutrients), an acidifier (to maintain the water’s pH level so flowers can soak up the water), and bleach to kill any bacteria.
Give the stems a fresh cut since exposure to air seals the stem.
Cut the stem at an angle for more surface area to drink up more water.
Be sure to remove all leaves that will be in the water because the leaves rot and often are the carrier of diseases.
Check the water level daily. Keep the arrangement out of the sun or direct heat to prolong their beauty.
Yesterday my husband said how much he appreciated I “beautified” our home with flowers. First, I found that surprising because in 28 years he has never made a statement along those lines. Second, as I was removing the 4-week-old blooms from the dining room table vase, he started asking more questions about the new flowers I had purchased. Why did I use bleach to clean the vase? Why do I remove the bottom leaves? Why do I cut the stem at an angle?
As I was putting these beautiful Alstroemeria buds in the vase, he asked, “Will those buds open?” With a smile I said, “Yes, by tomorrow they will be open.” And because they are buds, they will last 2-4 weeks. With delight in my heart from his awareness of this ritual I do, I was overjoyed I had been able to find one bouquet of RED mini-carnations to add to the arrangement. Since it’s only about a week after Valentine’s Day, finding anything RED is very unusual.
This is a way I “Love-On-My-Home” as well as giving myself “Self-Love.” Go get some flowers for your home and your heart! Then, please share it here!