Feng Shui: Ancient Asian Art Gains Popularity in Western House Plans and Home Décor
No longer exclusive to China and Asia, Feng Shui principles are now embraced in the West especially when designing house plans and decorating homes.
In the Feng Shui universe, roof shapes, windows, doors, interiors, and outdoor spaces surrounding the house are constructed and adapted to promote the flow of good energy. To this day, Asians believe that the location, design, and shape of homes have much to do with achieving health, prosperity and harmony in one’s life.
Flowers, plants and water featured in the courtyard of this two-story home adhere to Feng Shui principles that promote positive energy, relaxation and harmony.
History of Feng Shui
Feng Shui – translated as “wind and water” - originated with China’s Han Dynasty (200 B.C. to 200 A.D.) In Chinese culture, wind and water are associated with good health and fortune. In the early days, Feng Shui was merely a means of ensuring that the harvest was good and that buildings were protected from harsh weather conditions.
Eventually, it evolved into an art and science of the natural environment – and how to place and arrange objects to promote the flow of good “chi” or energy. So over the centuries, Feng Shui was used to find the ideal location for homes and villages where good “Chi” was able to flow freely. It has also given people home decorating and positioning ideas.
For starters, it is recommended that a home face the south to get more sunshine and avoid the cold north winds. In the old days, a home had to be mid-sized – neither too big nor too small. A small house with too many people or a big house with few people were frowned upon. Balance – even today – is one of the rules of Feng Shui.
Feng Shui is a complicated science - not merely a decorating art. Here are some helpful ideas to get you started in creating a home environment with harmony and positive energy.
The first rule is to get rid of all your clutter. A home must be uncluttered, light and airy to allow energy to flow freely within.
Shape of House
Experts believe that a square or rectangular-shaped house plan is the best for a good Feng Shui plan. If that is not an option, there are other ways to ensure the house has the basics for spreading positive energy.
Front Door/Main Entrance Design
In Feng Shui, the main entranceway is key since it opens the home to the “Chi” or energy. Not only should the front door be as inviting and welcoming as possible, the areas around it must be uncluttered as well – flower pots lining the entry must be clean with no dried leaves and weeds. It must also be well-maintained – tidy, with no squeaky or rusty hinges.
The door must be proportional to the house --- not too small or too big for the dimensions of the house plan. The door should open inwards to keep the positive energy within its confines.
You can heighten the force of Feng Shui in the home with natural light. Make sure there is enough natural light that filters through during the day by opening blinds and drapes. Renovate or upgrade windows to increase the levels of natural sunlight in the home. In addition, light-painted walls and furnishings and clean surfaces are to get optimum natural light in the home.
The living room – with the white walls, open drapes, light furnishings – opens to an equally sunny and airy balcony. Both spaces enhance the Feng Shui power of this home.
While natural light is preferred, artificial light by way of mirrors can be very useful in diffusing light to darker areas, and in preventing the movement of negative energy in the home. Here are a few “dos” and “don’ts” from experts:
> Don’t install a mirror opposite the front door - as it drives away positive “chi”. Instead, place a mirror to one side of the front door.
> Hang the mirror high enough so that you can see your entire head – to avoid negative self-image.
> Place a full-length mirror on the bathroom door to deflect energy from flowing away through the toilet and drains.
> Inside the bathroom, use large mirrors. Don’t use two mirrors next to each other since they disrupt a full view
> Avoid putting mirrors opposite each other …
No matter where they are installed, mirror shapes are important in Feng Shui: square or rectangular mirrors are for balance, circular one for unity and octagonal-shaped mirrors are for power.
Remember to arrange furniture so that you can move easily and comfortably around chairs, sofas and tables. This freedom of movement – especially in high traffic areas like the dining and living rooms - allows positive energy to flow freely.
These two living rooms demonstrate how easy it is to navigate around the furniture.
Kitchen appliances may be the greatest challenge to Feng Shui principles. It is advised to position the stovetop/oven so the cook’s back is not facing the kitchen door. This is not the case in most homes, however. Experts suggest a mirror above the stove to give the cook a view of the kitchen door and whoever is about to enter.
Fire and water elements should be kept separate from each other. According to Feng Shui rules, the stove (fire) should nowhere be next to the refrigerator and sink (water) in order to contribute to the family’s health, happiness and prosperity.
Another basic Feng Shui rule is to set main pieces – couch, bedroom furniture – in the space facing the door, but off to the side. Your bed should never be directly in front of the door; and keep the head of the bed away from a window since it is believed to allow the “chi” to escape. It is best to have a view of the entire room, including the door, from your bed.
Remember too, that the bedroom should be relaxing and calm. The primary rule of being clutter-free applies here as well. There should be enough room to walk around the bed and get on from either side with ease. Soft and light colors are recommended. Mirrors, televisions, computers, and exercise equipment should not be in a bedroom as they interrupt the tranquility and restful mood in the bedroom.
Warm colors and perfect positioning make this bedroom in harmony with Feng Shui ideas: the bed has a good view of the window and the door without being directly in front of it. The headboard is against a wall and can be accessed from either side.
Most of today’s homes include some kind of landscaping, small flower and herb gardens and greenery that bring nature closer to the home. Inside the home, it is also recommended to have flowers and plants to add to the natural feel. Some homes also add some kind of water feature to promote relaxation and harmony.