At the unseasoned and audacious age of 19, I stepped out from beneath a mountain of hoarded belongings, messy clothes and piles of unwashed dishes and into my first share house. The place was dank, filthy, disordered, and generally foul—the walls were a pastel mustard hue, old wallpaper peeling at the corners, the carpet was stained and pongy, and to top it off, the architecture had very little redeeming value. On the other hand, it was my first step into independence and I loved it. However, trying to fit ones life into a 3 by 3 metre room did pose many questions—where to put my workspace? My bed? Should I rid myself of old ornaments to make way for an indoor plant, and where could I put my beloved reading chair? The solution came in the form of a helpful Everyday Guide to Feng Shui, a parting gift from my mother that would become tremendously useful. Feng Shui (pronounced ‘fung shway’) is the 3000-year-old Chinese system of laws that are considered to govern spatial organisation and positioning relative to the flow of energy (chi).
By organising your space and achieving balance (yin and yang) between your decor and furnishings you can create an area that is harmonious and healthy. But where to start? Take a glimpse over this quick guide and ensure your space is smart, nourishing and balanced.
One of the most crucial pieces of furniture in your bedroom, or perhaps even the whole house, is the bed. We spend around 8 hours per night asleep, so you had better ensure your space is fit for relaxation and rest. Feng shui dictates that the bed offers security, and for the greatest rest, you want to place this piece of furniture diagonally opposite the door and if possible, diagonally opposite the windows. A big no-no is placing your bed with your feet pointing directly to the door, in Chinese tradition this is the way the deceased are removed from a room, so avoid this at all costs! Moreover the bed should be placed against a solid wall or partition, or at the very least have a robust bedhead, this ensures you are grounded and supported during your nights sleep.
First things first, clear the clutter and rid the room of rubbish. Spaces can often, over time, accumulate junk and become areas of chaos and confusion—in order to create a happy and harmonic energy, the rubbish needs to go! Spend a good whole day cleaning out your unused clothing, forgotten knick-knacks and numerous curios that have sat collecting dust. Perhaps invest in a bed that stores your linen and trinkets out of the way, safely in their own space—this will ensure your room is less muddled and free from confusion.
Choosing the right lighting can be a multi-faceted undertaking. Firstly, you need to consider the direction that the light enters the room—if it is a bedroom, you will want to ensure that a good amount of natural light enters in the morning, which will ensure you wake instinctively and boost the organic energy from the sun.
If your room is lacking natural light, consider soft warm toned hues, avoid fluorescent globes and invest in stylish feature pieces that will enhance the space with soft warmth and comfortable illumination.
Often we are limited by where we can place our workspace, it may have to be squeezed it into a bedroom, or in a small unused nook. When placing the desk or work area, consider the traditional feng shui rule that you must work in a ‘power position’—diagonally opposite the door, giving a authoritative and imposing view of the room, permitting sharp and concise thinking. In addition to this, avoid placing your desk directly up against a wall, or indeed too close to the bed. The wall will impede creativity and the bed will reduce your productivity. If you are space-poor, try a room divider or subtle collapsible panel to segment your space and ensure your workspace and bed are separate.
Now this is the part where you need to determine your Chinese horoscope—picking a colour based on your birthdate can influence your chi and allow you to enhance certain aspects of yourself that are needed for the particular area. The Chinese five elements can help you decide which colour is right for you, for instance, if you are a water sign, you may amplify your workspace with a radical red, or bright fiery hue, and vice versa for a fire sign, you may want a calming cool blue or green. Consider combining colours to segment your room into spaces that are appropriate for each separate activity, workspace, exercise area, sleep space or reading room. Soft lilac for anxiety relief, yellow for dynamism, and blue for tranquillity are just a few examples that can influence your vitality and in turn create a successful space.
Finally, when decorating your space it is essential to ensure you place certain items in the correct spaces and employ a ‘less is more’ mantra, as clutter in your space will equal clutter in your chi, and a generally chaotic life. According to feng shui principles, mirrors are not ideal for the bedroom as they can drain your energy and stir up drive, leading to bad rest and very little relaxation. Practically, however, we like a large mirror in our bedrooms—preparing for events, choosing outfits and creating a sense of space, all require a good reflective surface—consider facing your mirror away from the bed and instead into the empty part of the room. Finally, inject a little greenery into your space in the form of an indoor plant; this will create a sense of nature and represents development, luck and wealth. Not sure where to place your plant? Consider a workspace, or area where you will benefit from a boost in serene energy.