Spring is the time when most of us decide on ways to beautify our homes. If I were asked to describe my sense of style and/or décor, “lived in” would hit it squarely on the nose. Furnishings that take a beating is our décor, beginning with when we realized there were more animals in our home than humans.
However, that doesn’t mean that I completely ignore ways to keep it safe and tidy or that I can’t learn new stuff. So, an article online that caught my eye with the words, “Ways to optimize your home for a safe, serene, creative and healthy oasis,” enticed me enough to give it a full read.
It was about feng shui, Chinese words that translate to “wind” and “water,” respectively, a concept derived from an ancient poem that talks about human life being connected and flowing with the environment around it. The philosophy of feng shui is a practice of arranging the pieces in living spaces in a particular order to create balance with the natural world, harness energy forces and establish harmony between an individual and their environment.
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Sounded good to me.
Reading further, one part of the concept to cultivate good feng shui is to get rid of items that actively work against the principles of the practice. This intrigued me because I’m ready, willing and able to get rid of clutter to ensure good vibrations. Clutter is something in our house that there is no shortage of.
According to the article, a good place to start is to assess your wall coverings and artwork. Are pieces in your living room dark and foreboding, i.e., Gothic, anything with knives, swords or zombies? Kendra Gardner, an architect, designer, and feng shui expert, advises, “Your home reflects your dreams and desires. Do you desire what those images are representing? If not, why encourage that energy in your home? If it is dark, sad or scary, then that’s the energy you’re promoting in your home.”
The same principle applies to using items like axes and swords as decorations. “These weapons are considered inauspicious and can lead to bad luck or injuries in your home,” said Gardner. No axes or swords in our household, but plenty of bobble-head dog figures.
Her recommendation for good artwork includes pictures of plants and flowers, oceans and lakes, as well as waterfalls. Feng shui experts insist that this kind of art not only inspires growth and creativity, but also prosperity and the flow of money into the home.
Now, I’ve got a living room wall plastered with pictures of our pets, living and those that have passed on, so it would be next to impossible to remove any of them. However, just to add a little feng shui, I’ll hunt for a waterfall painting and hang it in between our two boxers and my husband’s beloved 16-year-old poodle who refused to share him with me for as long as she lived.
In most cases, plants improve the feng shui of your home, but for those with a black thumb, including myself, that’s not true with cacti, despite being easy to care for. “Those plants have points that are sending prickly energy to everyone in the space,” said Gardner. “They serve as protection if used on the exterior, but I would avoid using them inside.”
Too bad. We used them to entice stink bugs.
Many of the spaces in our homes serve a variety of purposes, i.e., the dining room is the office, bedroom usually storage for gym equipment. Feng shui experts want you to avoid converting your rooms, especially the bedroom. “The bedroom is a room that evokes play, not work,” said Gardner. “Also, using and storing an exercise bike or stair climber in the boudoir will contribute to exhausting and arduous relationships.”
Similarly, you’ll want to remove technology like TVs, laptops and tablets, which give off too much energy and brightness.
“Your bedroom is for sleep and romance, and that’s it,” said Gardner.
She said it, not me.
Flowers are symbols of impermanence, beauty, abundance and nature. In feng shui, fresh cut flowers invite energy into the home. They also can help the energy to flow smoothly and lift the mood of the home. While fresh flowers are the most ideal, you can also use images of flowers in artwork. Experts suggest the following flowers: the peony (romance), the lotus (wisdom), an orchid (nobility) or chrysanthemums (long-lasting blooms that symbolize longevity).
Not all greenery is good greenery. Past-prime flowers, and even purposefully pressed flowers, can throw off feng shui.
“Dried flowers are dead, and that is an energy you don’t want to encourage in your home,” said Gardner. “If you have a black thumb, use faux flowers instead to bring serenity and joy into the home.”
Clutter is a more general concept and most of us are guilty of collecting clutter.
“Clutter in any area blocks the flow of chi, therefore stifling creativity, good health and success,” said Angela Lenhardt, intuitive coach and feng shui expert.
One place you’ll want to focus your decluttering efforts is your closet.
“Closets represent the home’s capacity to be receptive,” said feng shui consultant Linda Berry. “Keeping them stuffed with non-useful items and clothing, sports equipment and just plain junk cuts the energy off from helpful people, experiences and situations.” She recommends clearing them out to be at least one-third empty to lift that burden.
Red, the most favorable color in feng shui, is connected to the fire element, so it can easily attract success. It’s also the color of protection, good luck and vitality. Suggested uses include painting your front door red, red flowers or even just some red pillows.
I’d paint my black front door red in a minute, but the man who lives with me is a meat and potatoes kind of guy and most likely not going to go for it, no matter how many books on feng shui I shove at him.
Peg DeMarco is a Morganton resident who writes a weekly features column for The News Herald. Contact her at email@example.com.