Unlike other home styles I have written about in this series, Feng Shui is more than just incorporating certain color schemes and types of furniture into a space. It even goes further than creating a desired ambiance, like simple and cozy for modern farmhouse style or relaxed and outdoorsy for coastal style. According to an article by Feng Shui Style, it is summarized as a “method of constructing and optimizing residences and businesses to bring about happiness, abundance and harmony.” Thus, the style is deeply personal and will look different for everyone.
Feng Shui originated in China almost 6,000 years ago, far before the modern home styles. The term translates to “wind” (Feng) and “water” (Shui). Farms and villages in the Chinese Imperial Court were built within the protective folds of mountains to be shielded from harsh winds and nurtured by gentle streams. These strategically placed environments brought about Qi, “natural energy,” and became thriving grounds for social, cultural and military leaders.
Let’s take a look at the origins of Feng Shui principles and how they’re used in Western society today.
History: Fu Xi, the first of three noble emperors in Chinese mythology, invented the Eight Trigrams that order the world, Sky, Earth, Thunder, Mountain, Water, Fire, Marsh, and Wind. Each trigram is represented by groups of lines made up of single solid (Great Yang) and shorter paired lines (Great Ying.) Collectively, they are known as Bagua and describe how nature works and symbolize a balanced life.
Modern Use: The first step to implementing Feng Shui into your life is to lay out a Bagua map over your home’s floor plan. According to House Beautiful, this map has eight colored boxes surrounding a center (you), each representing a different category of your life. The black box of the chart should be aligned with the entrance wall because the front door is the portal for all qi to enter your home and life, says an article by The Spruce. The following guide by How Stuff Works is a great starting point to determine what objects should be placed where in order to promote each category.
- Black (career): Mirrors, fountains
- Blue (skills and wisdom): Books, computers
- Green (family): Plants, family photos
- Purple (prosperity): Sailing ships and related materials, healthy plants
- Red (fame and reputation): Awards, animal-related items
- Pink (love and relationships): Paired items, pictures of loved ones
- White (creativity and children): Artwork, children’s photos (according to Feng Shui practitioners, this area must be kept neat if you want happy, well-behaved children)
- Gray (helpful people, travel): Religious items, travel souvenirs
- Yellow (health): Pottery, stone objects
Yin and Yang
History: Legend has it that Fu Xi received a gift from heaven – a dragon-horse that had stepped out of the Yellow River with a dotted black (Yin) and white (Yang) numeric pattern on its back. It became known as He Tu and represented the ideal balanced world. Yin and Yang are opposite magnetic forces beneath the Earth, but complementary and interdependent in the natural world.
Modern Use: In order to balance Yin and Yang, welcome soft Yin energy into relaxing spaces, like the bedroom or bath, and bold Yang energy into productive spaces, like your kitchen or office. And make sure to keep these spaces separate, especially work and rest areas, says QC Design School.
The “Five Phases”
History: The study of cosmology was important in ancient China. The “Five Phases” – Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water – explained change in the cosmos and were believed to cyclically take over one another. According to the Spruce, the cycle of creation is as follows: Water nourishes Wood, Wood nourishes Fire, Fire nourishes Earth, Earth nourishes Metal, and Metal nourishes water.
Modern Use: Some Bagua charts assign one of the five elements to each of the eight categories. Incorporate these elements into the corresponding part of the home, as well as their nourishing element. This can be taken literally by pairing wood furniture with a fountain, for example. Or, it can be taken loosely, represented by certain colors or shapes.
Here are some additional Feng Shui design tips:
- Keep organized and tidy
- Keep your bed away from the window, against solid walls, and with no doors on either side
- Place furniture in commanding positions
- Windows should be facing pleasing views or dressed with treatments or a window box
- Don’t arrange furniture with the backs to doors or windows
Article by Megan Kong, REX Homes