Feng Shui. You’ve probably heard of it. But do you really know what it means? It can feel like a complicated topic to dive into—and even more complicated practice to implement in your home. To help unpack the idea of feng shui decorating in your home, we’re walking you through the main pillars of feng shui and what it looks like to bring more harmony and balance into your home.
What is Feng Shui?
First, a definition. Feng and Shui are both Chinese words, meaning “wind” and “water,” respectively. Holistically, feng shui is a philosophy and practice that involves arranging your living space to create balance with the natural world. It involves harnessing energy, or chi, in your home through scientific calculations. The goal? To harness forces and establish harmony between you and your environment—specifically, your home.
Bringing feng shui into your home involves mindfulness. It’s about slowing down and taking time to notice the details while being grounded in the present moment.
The Origins of Feng Shui
This philosophy is derived from an ancient poem that talks about the connection between human life and the environment. In Asian cultures, the practice of feng shui is actually called Tao, which literally means “the way.”
Making Feng Shui Work in Your Home
Despite meaning “the way,” here at Modsy we don’t believe that feng shui is the only way to decorate, and we’re by no means experts in this ancient practice. In fact, many people don’t consider it at all in their home’s design, and other people appreciate incorporating some aspects of this philosophy into their homes while leaving others behind.
If you choose to implement feng shui decorating principles in your home, how you do it really depends on the size of space you have and how strictly you want to adhere to its principles. The big thing to remember? Decide what works for you and your space. If that means a 100% feng shui home? Great! If not? Also great.
Read on to learn about the basic principles of feng shui and design tips to help you incorporate them into your home!
Understand and Establish Your Commanding Positions
Every room has a “commanding position.” And this is the first thing to become aware of when seeking to implement feng shui in your home.
What is a commanding position in feng shui?
A commanding position is a place in the room where you place the largest focus (like a bed in a bedroom or a desk in an office).
How do I know my room’s commanding position?
You can establish the commanding position by locating the spot in the room that is the farthest from the doorway but not in line with it. Ideally, you position these focal points to benefit the overall function and flow of a space while honoring the simple rules of feng shui.
Consider and apply the commanding position to any area of a space that you spend the most time in—from bedrooms and home offices to open living/dining areas or basement family rooms.
How do I create a strong commanding position?
Strong commanding positions have a good “backing,” or strong support behind you, like a wall.
For example, in a bedroom, place your headboard against a solid wall, like in the design above. Good backing might not feel as natural in a room like a home office, where many people place their desk against a wall. Instead, in a feng shui office, you’d want to float your desk away from the wall, so that when you sit, your back is facing the wall. But strong support behind you also means being “supported” by walls—not windows. You’d never want to position your desk (or bed) with your back against a window.
Strong commanding positions also have a good view of the room’s entrances/exits (you wouldn’t want to position your bed facing away from the door) and do not block a doorway or walkway.
Add Life and Balance With the Five Elements
Feng shui design encourages decorating with plants, flowers, and other elements of nature. Plants embody life energy, so bringing these elements into your home brings that energy too.
What are the five elements in feng shui?
Another way to add life to your home is by bringing the five elements into your home. These five elements—earth, wood, fire, water, and metal—can be physically brought into your space through furniture and objects that are made out of these materials (like a wooden table, a fireplace or candle, a metal statue or side table).
But you can also bring the spirit of these elements into your home through colors. Bring the fire element in through the use of warm tones like reds and oranges or the water element through the use of blues. In fact, the use of color in feng shui is very directly correlated with the five elements.
Which of the five elements should I bring into my home?
Whether you go literal or symbolic, either way, the idea is to create balance and harmony through the use of all five elements. And if there’s an elemental energy you need more of in your life, bring in symbols of that element in a larger way.
- Need more clarity and precision? Bring in the metal element.
- Struggling with aggression? Pare back on the fire element. Or bring in more of the fire element if you need a boost in motivation.
- Ground yourself and focus on stability with the earth element.
- Or invite more wisdom into your home with the water element.
- The wood element helps bring new beginnings and bring life energy to a space.
So, take stock of what you need more of in your life, and bring in a little extra of that element—but focus on striking a balance with all five, as this represents a balanced emotional life.
Promote Energy Flow in Entryways and Passageways
In feng shui, the belief is that energy enters your home through the front door. So, your entryway is incredibly important for setting the tone for the rest of the house. Read our best entryway design tips!
Create Energy Flow
Maintain a strong area of energy flow by unblocking entrances. This may mean decluttering and paring down your entryways, hallways, and doorways. Establish and maintain minimalist interior design in these spaces.
Pause Energy Flow
You could also consider adding an element of “pause” in passageways, such as a small area rug in an entrance or artwork in a hallway to slow down the energy of the flow. Art is a natural element that inspires pondering. This creates a moment of considered intention within the space’s design.
Remove Obstacles & Maintain Clean Lines
To keep the energy flowing throughout your home, it’s important to remove any obstacles that could block the flow. Create movement throughout your space by using clean, distinct lines in the walkways of a room and between “zones.”
One of the key ways to do so is keeping passageways and walkways clear of clutter or obstructive furniture. Large area rugs are also a great way to create definitions and distinctions between zones in an open layout.
Read Next: Want to bring feng shui into a small living room layout? Check out our layout guides for creative solutions to tricky layouts.
Clutter can interrupt positive energy, clarity of thought, and productivity. So, to promote positive energy and flow, it’s important to reduce clutter. Focus on putting organizational systems in place, so that everything in your home has a specific function and place. Furniture with hidden storage is a great way to do this!
That doesn’t mean you can’t have superfluous decor (sometimes an object’s only function is that it brings joy!), but it does mean seriously considering each thing you bring into and keep in your home. (Think: Mari Kondo, a huge proponent of feng shui.)
Make an effort to tidy up your work and living spaces each day. This brings a sense of order into the chaos of the every day, and it gives you a clean slate to start with each morning. All of this will result in a happier, healthier environment.
Create a sound and soothing space by designing up—AKA using design tricks to help make your space feel larger than it is.
One great way to design up is to use tall bookcases or other storage furniture—whether built-ins, wall-mounted bookshelves or standalone pieces. Or, if you don’t have space for freestanding bookcases, try a wall-mounted shelf or two.
Designing up can also be achieved through hanging curtains higher than window frames—another great trick for drawing the eye up. And finding lamps where the light flows upward or adding a tree to your room’s design are also great ways to design up.
Honor Natural Light
In feng shui decorating, it’s so important to honor natural light sources. Designing around these light sources, like large windows, can help to create a natural balance and symmetry in your space.
Be careful not to block natural sources of light, whether windows or doors, with pieces of furniture. Of course, the use of curtains is permitted. You can also use mirrors in your space as a way to reflect natural light and bring more light into the room.
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Remove Negative Symbolism
Symbolism plays a huge role in the art of feng shui. So, to keep positive energy in your home, you want to be mindful of any negative symbolism.
Our homes are, ideally, places of peace and rest. But in these spaces, we also encounter our fears and challenges—and too often we unknowingly reinforce these fears by including their symbols in our homes.
- Clutter can be symbolic of a lack of clarity.
- A home is filled with single imagery—like artwork with solo figures, or even a single vase or chair—can be symbolic of loneliness and solitude.
- Maybe that rug you love reminds you of a past relationship that you’re holding onto.
Take time to evaluate the challenges you’re facing in life and identify if you have any negative symbolism of those struggles in your space. Remove them, then replace them with symbols of your goals or something that brings you joy.