Feng shui provides fundamentals for good design

There is a profound correlation between the ancient Chinese practice of feng shui and good design. It calls for the use of color, for a lack of clutter, and demands clarity and light while always seeking harmony and balance. All fundamentals for a great environment.

Proponents of feng shui absolutely believe that it has a profound effect on health, wealth and even personal relationships. And, as of late, there are those who define it as “the practice of arranging objects (such as furniture) to help achieve their goals.”

The words “feng shui” literally translate as “wind-water” in English and the proper pronunciation seems to actually offer a choice between “fung-shway” and “fung-shwee.”

Its history dates back more than 3,500 years before the invention of the magnetic compass, which was actually invented for feng shui and, of course, has been in use ever since. Until its invention, the practice of feng shui apparently relied on astronomy to find the connection between man and the universe.

In Chinese culture, gentle wind (feng) and clear water (shui) have always been associated with a good harvest and good health; so “good feng shui” came to mean a good livelihood and fortune, and “bad feng shui” came to mean hardship and misfortune.

Feng shui is based on the idea that the land (earth) is alive and filled with “chi,” or energy, the life force that emanates from and radiates through all matter; it reveals to us just how to balance the energies of any given space to assure health and good fortune for the people living in it.

From the use of aquariums to attract prosperity, to its use of crystals and fountains, from the right selection of colors, to the use of clocks, there are so many ways to improve your home energy with feng shui.

Color seems to be one of the easiest ways to influence the energy in the home. And each color is an expression of one of the five feng shui elements: fire, earth, metal, water and wood. The elements are used in specific areas according to the feng shui energy map of your space, or “bagua.”

It’s up to each of us to choose the feng shui colors for the energy that we specifically need in our lives, and these can be brought into our homes through wall color, art, photographs and even fabric choices.

“Fire” relates to passion and high energy and will bring with it energy to support your career efforts and help you to gain recognition. The colors to be used are red, orange, purple, pink and strong yellow.

“Earth” is nourishment and stability in relationships and the “center” of the home. The colors to be used for this energy are light yellow and beige.

“Metal” is for clarity and preciseness and brings the qualities of sharpness, efficiency and a balance of clarity and lightness. For this energy use gray and white.

“Water” relates to ease, freshness and abundance and will bring to your space a refreshing energy of calm, easy, purity and is a symbol of abundance. The water element colors to be used are blue and black.

And finally, “wood” will bring the energy of health, vitality and growth to your life and is an ancient feng shui cure for wealth and prosperity. The colors to be used are brown and green.

Feng shui teaches us not to be afraid of bringing vibrant colors into the home as color is a very powerful thing because it is light, and light is our most important nutrient. The more colors that you harmoniously absorb through the day, the higher your sense of well-being will be.

And whether or not you are a believer in the powers of feng shui, it can’t be denied that its very principles, as I mentioned earlier, do seem to go hand-in-hand with good, basic interior design with its emphasis on simplicity and a minimum of clutter.

For example, in the bedroom, as a designer it’s always been my belief that the bed is the most important object in the room and so it should be placed accordingly. It should be easily approachable from both sides and have two bedside tables (one on each side); feng shui cautions us to avoid having the bed in a direct line with the door, which should be closed at night in order to keep in all that good energy or “chi.”

Further, there should be several levels of light in your bedroom (always a good design idea in almost any space, by the way). The use of a dimmer (of which I’m a big believer) is certainly encouraged in order to adjust the energy or light levels.

Soothing colors should be used in the bedroom in order to achieve a good feng shui balance, which will go a long way to bringing on restorative sleep as well as sexual healing. The best colors to be used are colors of the human skin, which will vary from pale white to a rich chocolate brown.

And finally, the kitchen is the feng shui part of the home that nourishes and sustains life, and is also a symbol of wealth. It’s recommended that the kitchen also have several levels of the right kind of light and at the same time be airy and spacious, clean, bright and welcoming. It should be simple and not overloaded with gadgets, keeping the clutter to a minimum.

Fresh flowers are encouraged in order to bring an uplifting energy along with a bowl of fruits. Yellow is a wonderful color for this space as it is said to be good for the digestion.

All of these are great decorating tips to be sure.

Stephen Leon is a licensed interior designer and president of Soleil Design; he has been designing and manufacturing custom furniture and cabinetry for more than 25 years. He is president of the Central California/Nevada Chapter of the American Society of Interior Designers (World Market Center, Suite A3304) and is a certified professional in green residential design. Questions can be sent to soleildesign@cox.net.

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