The fastest way to bring feng shui energy into your home is with the 5 feng shui elements and their correspondence to color:
- Wood: Green, brown
- Fire: Red, strong yellow, orange, purple, pink
- Earth: Light yellow, sandy/earthy, light brown
- Metal: White, gray
- Water: Blue, black
Yin and Yang
Feng shui considers yin, feminine and passive energy. And yang, which is masculine and hot. It also looks at the five elements – water, fire, wood, metal, and earth, and the external environment.
Feng shui is based on simple common sense practices that make our homes healthier and more organized, but it also reveals how connected we are to our homes—and in turn, how they can affect our mood and well-being.
“When there is a direct line-of-sight between the front door and the back door, it means the chi (or energy) is shooting through the house too fast,” says Benko.
Instead of having it fly straight out the back door, “you want it to move in a graceful undulating way that goes around your whole home evenly,” she suggests.
The Solution: Slow the chi down with a patterned rug on the floor, artwork on the walls, or even a round entry table.
Clutter: While this may seem like an obvious problem to tackle around the house, we are all too guilty of accumulating tchotchkes that don’t play a specific function in the home.
According to Benko, clutter is more than just visually displeasing: “It’s an energetic anchor that impedes the best things from unfolding in our lives,” she says.
“An excessive amount of clutter stops us from having clarity of thought and can weigh us down emotionally.” Feng shui is less about having a perfectly-styled home, and more about creating a happy and healthy environment.
The Solution: Make sure that you have the correct organizational systems in place for everything in your life: from paying bills to recycling to having a designated spot for your keys. You’ll feel lighter, less frazzled, and more efficient.
“The front door is very important in feng shui,” says Benko. After all, it’s the main portal through which energy enters your home, remember?
“Think of the chi as a first-time visitor trying to find your home—you want to make sure it’s clearly lit, well-marked, and the address visible.” On the inside, you want to make sure you’re not walking directly into a wall—“it can metaphorically make you feel like you’re up against a wall every day,” she says.
The Solution: Install a mirror. When you hang the mirror, Benko advises connecting an intention to it, like expanding the opportunities in your life and not allowing yourself to feel limited.
Since energy enters through the main portal (read: your front door), you don’t want to have it shoot straight up the stairs, says the feng shui expert.
When you invite a visitor into your home, it would be weird for them to head straight to the fridge or the bedroom, right? Instead, you want them to linger in the common area.
The Solution: Slow down energy flowing into your home by adding a stair runner or artwork that causes you to pause and reflect. Another feng shui solution is placing a grounding element that symbolizes heaviness at the top of the stairs to anchor the chi and force it to slow down.
The five elements—earth, wood, fire, water, and metal—can be present in your home either physically or symbolically. For example, you could bring the fire element with warm tones, like reds and oranges, or you could have actual fire with a fireplace or a burning candle.
The idea, says Benko, is to strike a balance between all elements. “A lot of times, people are drawn to elements that they either need more of or that are a great cause of imbalance in their lives.”
For instance, people having issues with aggression should be mindful of not having too many fire elements as part of their decor. Conversely, personality types lacking motivation should infuse more of the fire element in their homes to give them a boost.
The Solution: Look closely at the literal and symbolic elements that are showing up in your home, as they can be a cause of imbalance in your emotional life. The idea is to strike a nice balance between all five.
If you look for it, Benko says, “symbolism is constantly bombarding us on an everyday basis. From literature to traffic signage to movies, we’re always being guided by symbolism. In our homes, it’s enhanced even more, because we are creating these intimate environments that most often represent our fears and challenges.”
Often, we unwittingly reinforce the challenges in our lives by having their symbols in our space.
Benko says there is a slew of emotional issues constantly being displayed in her clients’ homes. Do you have trouble getting clarity?
Check if you have stuff all over your surfaces. Do you have self-esteem issues? Check if your mirrors are hung too high, so you can never measure up. Are you chronically single?
Assess if you’re loading up your home with single imagery—a single vase, a single chair, a single person in a picture.”
The Solution: Evaluate what challenges you are facing in life, and try to identify whether they’re symbolically showing up in your space. Remove the symbols, and replace them with items you want to attract.
It should come as no surprise that natural light can make us feel happier and more positive.
“Mirrors in feng shui are like aspirin,” jokes Benko. “They’re prescribed often to treat many ailments. They’re a quick adjustment when you want to expand a space and bring in more light.“
The key here is to be very mindful of what the mirrors reflect. Is it a stack of bills (i.e. more clutter) or a beautiful view?
The Solution: When you hang a mirror, make sure it reflects more light, a serene view, or an expansive part of the room.
For efficiency’s sake, it’s never practical to have two work stations situated back-to-back. This is why many kitchen experts suggest a triangular set up between the fridge, stove, and sink.
But Benko says there is also feng shui reasoning behind it: “There can be a conflict in the house when you have fire right across from water—water puts out fire.”
The Solution: If you have that configuration in your kitchen, no need to gut renovate just yet. Instead, put a wood element between the sink and stove—water feeds wood, and wood feeds fire.
So in this case, wood acts as a mitigating element between the two opposing forces. Wood is also represented by the color green in feng shui, which can be used instead of the actual material.
“Depending on the layout of your home or apartment, the living room tends to be one of the first rooms that greets you upon entering,” she explains.
“This means that the presentation of your living room sets a certain feeling, emotion, mindset, and energetic frequency before you venture into the rest of your home.”
Before you start buying (or even moving) furniture, Cerrano advises that you first assess how you use your living room.
To get the ball rolling, she suggests asking, “What activities will be taking place in the living room? Is it mainly used for enjoying leisurely activities, entertaining, working, or eating meals? Will guests use the space to sleep over? Or all of the above?”
“Understanding the function of the room will indicate what type of furniture (and how many pieces of furniture) you really need,” says Cerrano. “Then you can decide on the best arrangement for the overall room.”
No matter the function of the space, no living room is complete without a couch—and, as it turns out, its placement can have a big impact.
“As with any room you are applying feng shui to, it’s best to establish a ‘commanding position,’“ Cerrano explains. “In short, this means the occupants sitting on the couch in the living room have a clear vantage point of who is entering at all times.”
After you select a commanding position for your couch, you’ll probably want to know where to place your television.
“Most TVs these days are so slim that you could mount it on the wall, which helps keep a more sleek and neat presentation,” says Cerrano.
When it comes to the question of whether or not you should you hang your television over your fireplace, Cerrano advises against it, if possible.
“If that’s the only location in the living room to place it, go for it,” she says. “But if your intention is to create a space for greater connection and conversation with family, allowing the fireplace to be the main focal point is a much better option.“
“Depending on which method of feng shui you are using, the best colors for your living room could be determined by the compass direction, the five elements, or the Bagua map method,“ says Cerrano.
“Let’s say your living room faces south. In general, the suggested accent colors are within the warm scope of options: Reds, red-oranges, yellows, or even pinks and purples.”
Although Cerrano advises embracing color, she also cautions against using too much of it.
“You don’t need to paint your entire room one of these colors,” she explains. You’ll still reap all the benefits of a hue if you incorporate it into your space sparingly.
“You could have a neutral wall color (creme or beige) and accent your living room with noticeably warm colors through light sources, artwork, an area rug, or accent pillows,” she suggests.
When it comes to accessorizing your living room, you want to curate a collection of items that are meaningful to you, according to Cerrano.
“Make sure what you choose to put out on display conveys happy ‘energy anchors,'” she recommends. “When you see these items, you should feel a smile in your heart or perhaps a sense of accomplishment, curiosity, or adventure,” she explains.
“On a conscious and subconscious level, our environment is always influencing us.”
For a particularly small living room, Cerrano recommends hanging a mirror—but placement is everything.
“Mirrors have the capability to ‘expand a room’ by making it look and feel bigger,” she explains. “Just be mindful of what the mirror is reflecting, as it doubles the energy of whatever it sees,“ she cautions.
You should also “select a mirror size that allows you to see your entire head, shoulders, and chest line to ensure you ‘capture your aura,'” according to Cerrano.
Plants play an important role in curating good feng shui in any living room because they “add ‘life force energy’ to the space,” according to Cerrano.
“They can also help to purify the air and give the room a splash of unique texture with the leafy patterns,” she says.
Common plants with positive vibes “include English ivy, peace lily, rubber tree, bamboo, succulents and the snake plant.”
“One of the easiest feng shui principles to remember is to not let clutter accumulate in your living room or in any room for that matter,” says Cerrano.
“Some may debate this and say it doesn’t matter, and yet science has proven the negative mental and physical effect excess clutter has on the human mind and body,” she elaborates. “Whatever you do not need, use, or love, let it go.”
Stimulate bright, uplifting energy with natural light and layered lighting. Energy efficient light bulbs mimic natural light, and they’ll last longer.
Light is also associated with the fire element; one of five elements that should be represented in the room for harmony and balance.
To improve feng shui in the living room, try to illuminate dark corners and shadows.
If feng shui is all about harmony, consider balancing décor materials so that one single material doesn’t overpower everything else in the room. This might mean opting for a variety of textures and finishes.
For example, if you’ve got a lot of metal going on in your living room, soften it up with fluffy pillows and throws, and a house plant or two.
Quick Tip: To optimize feng shui, it’s important to make sure the flow of movement to and around the furniture is accessible and unobstructed. Consider this before splurging on an expensive side table.
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