If you've found yourself asking what feng shui is and how you can use the basics of the ancient Chinese tradition to boost harmony for your family, you won't want to miss these feng shui decorating tips.

By Maressa Brown
February 19, 2020
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When you're decorating your family's home, you're sure to pull inspiration from a variety of sources. Perhaps some details mirror those you grew up with (like special family heirlooms on display), while others suit your lifestyle (like having an organizational system in the mud room that makes it easy for the kids to find their shoes). But just as you might look to the power of crystals or the symbolism behind plants to bring more fortune and harmony into your home, so too can you consider feng shui rules. The ancient Chinese philosophy which translates to "wind" and "water" can help you make your home more organized, healthier, and in sync with your values and creative flow.

"Feng shui, simply, is the art and science of placement," explains Tsao-Lin E. Moy, an alternative and Chinese medicine specialist who is also the founder of Integrative Healing Arts.

She notes that the philosophy acknowledges that all items serve a purpose in your home, and "extra stuff" can create energy blocks. "Ultimately, your environment is the space that continues to stimulate you, and should be used to support your energy and health," says Moy. "The structure and function of feng shui move energy and help maintain health. A home and office that are feng shui-ed should feel calm and inviting, which is better for your mental health."

Credit: Jon Lovette/Getty Images

Here, several ways you can use feng shui basics to set your home up for success while boosting the flow of family life.

Feng Shui Bedroom Rules

Don't place your head of the bed on the north wall

"Make sure the head of your bed is on the south, southeast, or east wall," notes mind-body lifestyle expert Jaya Jaya Myra. "South is best, but east works too. Never have the head of your bed on the north wall, because this misaligns your energy with the natural flow of the earth. It can contribute to health problems and poor sleep."

Remove frenetic energy-inducing TVs and electronics

"Bedrooms are meant to be places of relaxation and rejuvenation, so it’s best to not have a television as it adds activating energy to the room and doesn't allow you to drift peacefully off to sleep," explains Esmeralda Salinas, a certified modern feng shui consultant. "If you have to have one in your bedroom, conceal it somehow in an armoire or simply placing a scarf or other beautiful fabric over it."

Keep the room balanced

Whether you're single or have a S.O., the bedroom is the spot most conducive to promoting healthy partnership. "It's the room most connected to our relationships, so it’s always best to think in pairs—two night stands, two lamps, two candles, etc.," notes Salinas.

Moy recommends putting a small night table on each side of the bed and matching lamps. Not only does this add balance to your bed setup, but it signifies there is a place for a partner, she notes.

Feng Shui Living Room Rules

Make sure you have a view of the door

"Living rooms are interesting, but we also want to have a view of the door, even if it’s peripheral for safety, as well," says Salinas. "Most people feel much more at ease when they're able to see what is coming at them or in this case, who or what might be entering the room."

Position heavy furniture in the southwest part of the room

Myra explains that you'll do well to put that sectional or recliner in the southwest part of your living room, leaving the southeast and northeast areas open for more activity and traffic flow. "This helps keep the energy stable in a living room," she notes.

Set out a glass decanter of water with glasses

This can be meant for you, family members, and even guests. "Water is the blood of life and represents nourishment," notes Moy.

Feng Shui Color Rules

Take note of your wall colors

Moy points out that color has a very powerful effect. "If it is a small space, soft neutral tones help to make the space bigger and lighter," she explains. "And avoid the blaring flatscreen TVs. They are energetically scattering. Instead, choose art that reflects what you value or brings you joy."

Avoid red in restful areas

Salinas says the fiery color is "very activating," so you'll want to use it sparingly in areas of the house that are meant for relaxation, such as the bedroom or even the living room.

Go with soothing colors in areas meant for relaxation

In the bedroom, go with cool, calming colors—likes blues—for your decor, sheets, as well as walls, because they're best for promoting good rest, says Myra.

Stimulate energy with nature's light and bright hues

In the office, you'll do well to incorporate peach, light yellow, and lighter greens, says Myra. "These colors are great for stimulating energy and creativity," she says. More vibrant colors (again, like fiery red or bright orange) are better left to accent pieces.

Feel more grounded with earth colors

"Earthy tones like browns, orange-browns, and tans are great, because they help you feel rooted and stable, more relaxed and at home," explains Myra. "This is a great energy to have in your living room. You can add in more color using small pieces of furniture, accent pieces, and art."

Remember that feng shui colors should suit your unique space

Depending on the direction a room faces, you might want to use particular colors to bring in more balance or correct the flow of energy, notes Myra. This is a case for working one-on-one with a feng shui consultant. (You can find one using the feng shui consultant search on the International Feng Shui Guild website.)

Feng Shui Office Rules

Make sure you have an optimal view

Salinas explains that the most important thing to think about when it comes to your office is your view of the space. "In feng shui, we call the optimal position of your desk the 'command' position," she notes. "You should position your desk so that you have the widest view of the room. This offers you a form of security as you’ll never be quite caught off-guard."

Avoid clutter

"Areas that have clutter tend to be where the energy gets stuck and can be a 'dead' zone," explains Moy. "Removing the clutter is also about getting organized and having space work for you." So, while this is particularly important in your office space—an area you want to lend itself to productivity—it applies to the whole house, as well.

Be aware of your desk's position

"It's best to have a work desk positioned so you are facing north or east," notes Myra. "This helps bring more vitality, focus, and clarity to your work. Facing west or south can deplete your energy and focus more quickly, making you less productive."

How to Feng Shui Your Kitchen

Keep it neat and tidy

Sure, this is easier said than done when you have little ones, but because the kitchen is often associated with prosperity and is the most important room in the house, according to most traditional feng shui schools, you'll want to take special note of this space. "The kitchen symbolizes everything that nourishes and nurtures us," says Salinas. "Without our health, we can’t be at our best for any of the other areas of our life to flow well. In the kitchen, keep in mind that since this area speaks to our abundance, it is being reflected in this space. Keeping it clean and tidy is the best thing you can do."

Fill it with nourishing, healthy foods

Feng shui experts believe the items we keep in our kitchen will also reflect our fortune, so in addition to keeping things organized, you'll do well to fill your fridge and cabinets with foods that are nurturing and that fuel your body optimally, says Salinas.

What to Know About Feng Shui-Approved Plants

Bring nature into your home

In general, feng shui experts will encourage their clients to bring more plants into their homes. "They improve our air quality, and we need to nurture our connection to nature," says Salinas. "Studies have shown many numerous benefits of adding plants and flowers in our environments and by getting out and experiencing nature, such as their ability to reduce stress, their ability to lower blood pressure, their ability to enhance problem-solving skills, and they can help reduce fear and anger."

That said, you don't want to overrun your home decor with plants, as they're associated with the wood element in feng shui—and we need a mix of all of the elements (water, metal, earth, and fire are the others) to feel our best.

Avoid spiky plants

Cacti and other plants with spiky, or sword-like leaves, are associated with sharp, negative energy, so you'll do well to avoid them altogether.

Place prosperity-boosting plants in the right spot

Traditional feng shui advises putting luck-bolstering plants in the southeastern corner of your home or whatever is the back left corner of your home (when facing the front door). A couple optimal choices: a money tree or a jade plant (believed to attract wealth because the leaves look like coins).

General Feng Shui Must-Knows

A word on main entrances and garbage bins

Feng shui rules suggest that trash bins be kept as out of sight as possible, especially around main entrances, which are consider the "mouth of qi," or area where fresh energy enters. Obviously, you don't want that fresh energy to go right in the trash! "No open garbage bins should be at the entrance; they should be placed around a corner and out of sight," confirms Moy. "Look for other types of containers that you can disguise so that it does not create a feeling of repulsion."

Use the symbolism of water to boost your family's prosperity

In addition to being "the blood of life," according to Moy, water is considered the symbol of prosperity and abundance, and flowing water specifically symbolizes income, so setting up even a small fountain in the front of your home, with the water flowing toward the home, can bring good fortune.

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