Rearranging and reinventing our living space is one of the most powerful ways to free up creative energies and get our lives moving again. By mixing up the chi in our outer space, we revitalized the chi in our inner space. In doing so, we begin to see clear solutions to our most daunting problems. As a result, our lives begin to flow, and marvelous synchronicities begin to appear!
I love helping clients reinvent their living space using little or no money. I call this Feng Shui Redesign, because it combines both Feng Shui and Interior Design expertise.
I realize this is a talent that doesn’t come naturally to everyone. So for those who feel spatially impaired or just stuck when it comes to their own home, here are some tried and true solutions for reinventing your space that I use in my own Feng Shui Redesign Practice.
1. First clutter clear and clean the room you are starting with. You need to start with a clean palette so that you can see the possibilities.
2. Take down all artwork and put it together in one section of the room. Dust the wall where the pictures were and thoroughly clean each picture, including the glass.
3. Gather all the bits of things, such as loose photos, letters, cards, bits of mementos from outings, used candles, scraggly plants, and put them all in a box. Now gather all of the treasures (i.e. things you truly love), thoroughly clean each one and put them in another area of the room. Now go on a treasure hunt and find all of the beloved items that are stored away in drawers and closets and add them to the treasure trove items. Surrounding ourselves with objects we love will bring vibrant chi into the room. Take out the treasures you keep behind glass and use them on a daily basis. In doing so you are affirming that you deserve to have beautiful things. The universe picks up this message and you start attracting like energies. (See my article: Your Home is Attracting your Future)
4. Observe with a fresh eye what you have in the room. Make a list of what seems to work and what doesn’t. If something doesn’t work it is often because of one, or a combination of, the following things:
- Some or all of your furniture is the wrong scale for the room. Large furniture is in vogue but I often find it in smaller scale homes. If you want the over-sized sofa to stay, the over-sized matching ottoman needs to go to another room. Find a smaller table or chest and substitute this for the ottoman or coffee table. Any small table or chest will work, even an unused piano bench. If it is not in great shape, cover it with an attractive runner or mat to create a coffee table. Often people have too much furniture in each room; a good rule of thumb is to eliminate one or two pieces per room, and it will breathe again.
- You have a large piece of furniture with a loud or dominant pattern, and you have been working around it ever since. If you have one loud piece, the rugs, curtains and pillows have to be solid colors or contain more neutral patterns. Find solid and neutral-colored throws and pillows from other rooms and drape over the dominating print to calm it down. The general rule is to buy neutral furniture for the big pieces and jazz them up with vibrant rugs, pillows and throws. [See my top picture.] If you want to make the room work, purchase an inexpensive slip cover in a neutral shade. Change the pillows seasonally for an inexpensive way to keep the room looking fresh.
- Your main pieces of furniture are too far away from each other. If your furniture is lined up along the wall, chances are no one gravitates to this room. This is because after 5 1/2 feet, you no longer have an intimate conversation area, making it difficult for people to connect. If you have a large room, you need to divide it into two separate areas in order to make it work. Create one conversation area with the sofa, two end table on either side, two chairs opposite the sofa, and a coffee table with a rug underneath. The second might be the two other chairs angled towards each other in another section of the room, a small table between, and a floor lamp. On the occasions that you need additional seating, temporarily move the other two chairs back to the larger seating area.
Find similar themes and group items together to add interest. And always bring in nature!
5. Balance the yin and yang. This is about working with the forces of opposites. It is about mixing complexity or detail (yin) with simplicity of line and less detail (yang). For more on this see my past article: Yin and Yang for a Balanced Home. An example of yin items would be small collections of objects. Put these collections in curio cabinets, or store them in a box, displaying only some of them at a time and rotating them periodically with new ones. We don’t see items that sit in one place for too long, so move them around and freshen them up and the vibrant chi will be restored. This goes for everything in our homes. Freshen up silk flower arrangements every three months or so. For displaying in focal point areas you will need larger objects. Intermix a few of the small pieces with the medium and larger ones, but don’t over do it. They will disappear in a larger space!
6. Arrange the key pieces of furniture that you spend the most time on (i.e. sofa or bed) in the empowered position. This is where you see the main doorway of the room but are not in direct alignment with any door. It will never feel comfortable to sit or sleep in front of a doorway for any length of time. As creatures of comfort, we want to feel protected yet still be able to see what is going on. If you can’t move the sofa, put a table behind it with objects like plants or lamps. It will now feel as if you have a wall of protection behind you. For more on this see my article: Feng Shui for Living Rooms.
7. Rehang the pictures and group them in relationship to furniture and other objects. Make sure they are low enough and close enough to the objects you are grouping them with. Group according to things like similar frames, subject matter or themes, texture, pattern and complementary colors. Group smaller pictures together and hang them very close to each other. Most people hang pictures too high. A good average is to have the top of a large picture at about 5 1/2 feet. When you look at a larger picture, your eyes should land at about 3/4 of the way from the top. And always use art that is inspiring and sends a positive message. Art depicting nature is always preferable as it brings in the important Feng Shui Five Elements.
8. Now add your cherished objects and group them in relationship to the furniture and art. Find similarities using these same general guidelines and group medium or smaller objects in threes and fives to add interest. Make sure to include the finds from your treasure hunt. If your grandmother is important to you, use the fine needlepoint pillow you found tucked away and bring her energy into your space. Bring out the old violin you inherited, add the clarinet no one plays, and the recorder that has been hidden in a drawer and create an interesting musical instrument arrangement on the mantle. Make it up and mix it up and embrace variety and change. Our homes are a metaphor for our lives. Create it there first, and watch it unfold in your life!
9. Oil or polish all wood furniture. Get a good furniture polish or wood oil and clean and polish all wood furniture. If a piece is scratched or the finish is bad, find a scarf, mat or runner from your treasure trove and cover it up, arranging the decorative items on top. (I use Old English Scratch Cover for Dark Woods for fixing up really scuffed pieces. )
10. Create Focal Points. This might be the mantle or the coffee table (or any surface), and arrange complimentary objects there. A good rule of thumb is to have one or two focal points per room; however, I like to add something pleasing to look at on every surface. Add fresh candles and bring in only the plants that look good. Nix the dead or dying ones. If you can’t bear to throw them away, put them in a “plant hospital” away from sight and commit to bringing them back to life. Get rid of plastic pots and ugly drainage dishes and find attractive pots for the healthy plants you are going to display. Decorative plates serve as attractive bases and keep the moisture from damaging wood surfaces.
You can do all of this with little or no money. Use these tried and true techniques and – voila! – your room will sparkle with new energy and you will feel as if you just moved in!
And… if you can spend a little, treat yourself to some inexpensive new pictures, decorative objects, and healthy plants and put on a fresh coat of paint! Take a chance and move away from the usual suspects and see what a difference it makes!
Top Photo courtesy of Rosie Picci. (Thank you Rosie!)