By the Author of Small Changes, Dynamic Results! Feng Shui for the Western World
Welcome to the wonderful world of Feng Shui and my series on Feng Shui Room by Room.
Living rooms are considered more Yin spaces (see my article on Yin and Yang for the Home) where we want to relax and rejuvenate. They should be calming places with muted colors, more tactile fabrics with soft, comfy furniture.
Place the Main Pieces of Furniture in the Empowered Position
In every room that we spend time in we want to make sure that we face the main pieces of furniture, such as the sofa and bigger chairs, in the empowered position. This is where it is facing the main entrance but not positioned directly in alignment with it. You will find that people will instinctively sit on the furniture placed in the empowered position first. We naturally feel more comfortable and safe when we can see the action and don’t have activities going on behind us.
If you cannot move the sofa in this position because of room limitations, create a faux wall behind it. This can be done by placing a sofa table behind the sofa with tall lamps and plants on it, or by placing taller screens or trees behind. A mirror placed in such a way that you can see the entrance from the sofa will provide a greater sense of protection and comfort when you have to sit with your back to the door. You can always place the smaller chairs with their backs to the entry. The room will look silly with everything lined up in a row, but try to make sure the key pieces are in the best place for easy viewing.
Televisions should ideally be disguised in an Armour or entertainment center. This is the room often use for rest and relaxation and when televisions are the prominent piece of furniture it is tempting to have them on all the time. The more we can balance our television watching with reading, listening to music or other more creative activities, the more balanced we will feel in our lives. You can also cover them up with an attractive shawl when not in use. For rooms with huge wide screen televisions, I encourage my clients to get a CD or DVD that is like a screen saver. There are wonderful fish tank and fireplace scenes you can purchase that will change it from a black hole when it is off, to a lively interesting scene, attracting chi and balancing that part of the room.
Rooms with High Ceilings
High ceilings are very popular in more modern homes and apartments. They create a feeling of spaciousness, but are not very cozy. The chi or energy goes up to the ceiling rather than circulating nicely within the living space. As creatures of comfort, we seek comfy cozy places to relax and rejuvenate.
For rooms of this type we want to create what we call ‘a line between heaven and earth.’ This can be accomplished by creating an eye-line at about 8′-10′ high positioning pictures and furniture at the same height around the room. This will create the illusion of a lower ceiling and bring the chi back down into the space. Using earth tones and heavier rugs and furniture will also help anchor the living space in rooms with vaulted ceilings.
Bring in the Five Elements
Create an environment that brings in shapes, objects, colors and patterns from the natural world. The five elements are a powerful component of creating an environment that nurtures and inspires. See my article about the five elements for more tips on how to do so.
If you have a fireplace, hanging a mirror over it is a great way to balance this large fire element with the water element represented by the mirror. For fireplaces that are unused, cover the ‘black hole’ opening with an attractive fan or screen. You can also create an interesting scene within the fireplace such as sand with candles on black wrought iron stands. (My readers with cats will say they will use them as a cat box, so only do what is appropriate to your situation). Plants within unused fireplaces are also an attractive option.
Ceilings with Heavy Beams
Rooms with heavy dark beams on the ceiling will feel oppressive to be in and you will often find yourself gravitating towards cozier spaces with lighter ceilings. If you rent and cannot do anything about them, one idea to lighten up the dark ceiling is to hang small white Christmas tree lights on the beams or put track lighting on them angling some of the lighting upwards. Always move the main pieces of furniture you spend the most time on out from under a beam. If you own your home you may want to consider painting or staining them a lighter color. It is a big undertaking but if you have the means to do so it will make a huge difference in the way you feel about being in the space.
Hang pictures at the right height. Most people hang them too high, causing the same feeling as being in a room with high ceilings. A good rule of thumb is to hang the top of the picture at about 5’3 – 5’6 high. If you are sitting on the sofa facing a picture, hang it lower so that you can enjoy it while seated.
Create Conversation Areas
After 5′ you no longer have a conversation area, making people feel a bit isolated if they find themselves sitting across the room from the sofa. Larger rooms will require two conversation areas or more. To allow for an easy and more intimate dialogue, arrange all seats in the same conversation area to be within about five feet of each other.
Group Objects in Relationship to Each Other
Objects have more interest if they are grouped in relationship to each other. You may have three or four objects that look great together. They make a stronger statement as a whole rather than individually. An example might be a low side table with a lamp and a picture that all work together. Put the lamp on the left side of the table and hang the picture low down on the right side just a few inches above the table top. (An occasional exception to the picture hanging ‘height’ rule) The eye will see all of these wonderful objects in relationship to each other creating interest and liveliness. Nature never bores us but our eyes do get bored in interior spaces. We need to create visual interest and invoke the element of surprise!
Clear Clutter and Remove Weapons or Weapon-like Objects
Clutter clearing is always paramount. Remember every object is alive and talking to you according to Feng Shui. Clearing clutter is considered a powerful way to make room for new opportunities in our lives and if nothing else, will make us feel better in the space. Arrange the furniture in such a way that you can easily move around the room. If your room feels cluttered with too much furniture, a good rule of thumb is to remove two pieces of furniture per room and see how much more spacious it feels!
Crate a Focal Point
This can be a mantle or a coffee table with an attractive candle, floral arrangement and decorative piece of art. One or two per room is all you want. If a colorful patterned rug is the main attraction, give it prominence. Compliment with a glass oval coffee table that shows it off with just a few objects placed on it. Enhance this with pillows that compliment the rug on a solid colored sofa with no pattern. You can have too much of a good thing creating a too-busy room with nowhere for the eye to rest. A good yin/yang balance in a room will juxtapose complexity and detail with simplicity and straight lines.
For those of us who collect treasures, arrange them in special places that showcase them but don’t allow them to take over the energy of the space. A moderate amount is interesting, but don’t over do it.
Make sure all furniture is ‘people proof’ i.e. without sharp edges that can injure.Remove any object that looks like a weapon or is an actual weapon. No matter how interesting the artifact, our primitive instincts will register “danger “around them. Always store weapons behind locked cabinets.
Stay tuned for the next post on family rooms.