The Art of Feng Shui

Men laying new hardwood flooring

Yoga teacher Deborah Timberlake wasnt totally convinced feng shui would change her life. But she let one of her students, feng shui consultant Tracy Miller, have a go at her office. Miller suggested moving the desk, adding a plant and rearranging furniture. Not only did it feel different, Timberlake says, but her income jumped by 30 percent.

So when Timberlake and her husband were building a new home in Avondale Estates, they called on Miller for advice. For somebody whos a yoga teacher, Im fairly grounded, Timberlake laughs, but I thought it had some value. Now people walk in this house and they feel comfortable. They feel good and I really think it has to do with some of that.

An ancient Chinese philosophy dating back at least 4,000 years, feng shui (pronounced fung schway) focuses on living in harmony with the environment. In a home, the goal is placement and design that allows for the flow of positive chi, or energy. Everything in the house requires a balance of elements: fire, water, earth, wood and metal.

Feng shui is a hot interior design trend. Wielding compasses and color charts, feng shui consultants visit homes and offer advice about everything from furniture placement to art selection. A feng shui consultant even visited the Coca-Cola headquarters downtown and made suggestions.
It doesnt take a full-scale floor-to-ceiling makeover to bring harmony into your house. The experts have simple advice to bring the ancient practice into your home.

Something as simple as lighting adjustments can bring more positive energy into a home, according to feng shui principles. Canton-based feng shui practitioner Guy Ferru, doctor of Chinese medicine and author of The Right Way of Living, suggests when there isnt a lot of light, you can use full-spectrum light bulbs to mimic the light of the sun.

Picture your house and draw an imaginary line horizontally from one side to the other, Miller suggests. Whats in front of the linethe part of the house that faces the streetis yang space, active, noisy and bright. Behind that line is yin space, which is just the oppositenurturing, quiet and darker. Miller suggests assigning rooms that are more active and public to the front of the house while bedrooms should be at the back of the house.

The master bedroom should be at a back corner of the house, farthest away from the front door. Where you place your bed is also very important in terms of feng shui. Avoid having the bed where your feet face the door, Ferru says. If the first thing you see is the bed, too much energy [is focused on] the bed, which is not good for the place you want to sleep.

You also should avoid vibrant art and loud-colored walls. And keep mirrors positioned so you cant see yourself in them while youre in bed. The mirror disturbs your vibration when youre sleeping, Ferru says.

In the kitchen, the stove is a really big thing in feng shui, Miller says, founder of Atlanta-based Gazelle Feng Shui. Because the stove is a fire element and fire and water clash, its important that the appliance not be placed too near the sink. If theres no alternative, add a wood elementa butcher block countertop or a large wood cutting boardbetween the stove and the sink as a buffer, she suggests.

Its also considered critical that the cooks back never face the entrance to the kitchen. The belief is that if the cook is startled, that releases bad energy. The best remedy is situating the stove on an island in the middle of the kitchen. If thats not viable, hang a mirror or some sort of reflective material on the backsplash so the cook can be aware of activity going on behind his or her back, Miller says.

The color of the appliances also is a consideration. A stove should never be blue because its a clash between fire and water, Ferru cautions. Likewise, a sink should never be red.

But the stove is not the only appliance that can make negative waves in the kitchen. Microwaves are just terrible feng shui altogether, Miller says. The worst is to put the microwave right over the stove creating a strong electromagnetic field over your head while youre cooking. We discourage microwaves altogether but if you have to have one, stay away from it when youre cooking, Miller cautions.

If you dont have a window over the sink, the experts suggest hanging up a mirror or a picture that creates some sort of depth view. The belief is that you should always have the largest view in front of you when youre standing.

When choosing flooring, countertops and backsplashes, its also good to have a lot of natural materials in the kitchen. Earth energies in the kitchen are welcome so anything made of stone, concrete, wood or metal are all preferable kinds of materials, Miller says.

Bathrooms are always problematic in feng shui, say the experts. Houses with bathrooms at their center are the worst feng shui imaginable, Miller says. The center is related to health and having a bathroom there is like flushing away all the good energy.

But since its often too difficult to actually move the bathroom, there are plenty of things you can do to ward off bad energy. If you can see the toilet as soon as you open the bathroom door, try changing the hinges on the door so that it opens the other way. That, Miller says, keeps the worst energy from assaulting someone as they enter.

The pros have differing opinions on the best colors in a bathroom. Miller suggests pale greens and blues or blacks, whites and metallic colors. Stay away from reds, pinks and oranges, she suggests, because those are fire colors which conflict with the water aura of a bathroom.

Ferru, however, prefers peach. That way, when you look in the mirror in the morning, the reflection in the mirror will make your skin look healthy and glowing.

They agree that its important to keep the toilet lid down (Hear that, men?) because it keeps the good energy from being sucked out of the room.

Whether you believe in the power of positive chi or you just like the look of the furniture placement, the philosophy behind feng shui is one of balance and harmonythings that go well in any home.

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