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Using Feng Shui To Make Your House Your Home

Carol M. Olmstead, FSII
Certified Feng Shui Practitioner
Feng Shui For Real Life®

Sara was in the middle of a major case of "buyer's remorse" when she called to set up a Feng Shui consultation. Sara and her husband Tim had moved into their dream house in Santa Fe three months before. The first time they walked into the home they fell in love with everything about it: the view of the Sangres out back, the vigas, the meandering layout, the separate master bedroom wing. They made an offer, settled quickly, and moved in. Then they began to have doubts that they made the right move. Sara and Tim had been arguing more, neither of their two sons was sleeping well, and it felt like as soon as they earned money, it flew out of the house. The couple thought their home would be perfect for entertaining, but their friends and family rarely visited."If this is our dream house," Sara wondered, " why do we feel so unsettled, like we don't belong here?" I gave her a simple two-word answer: Feng Shui.

Feng Shui (pronounced “fung shway”) is the art and science of arranging your surroundings in harmony and balance. Our surroundings have a powerful effect on what we attract into our lives. When the energy around us—chi—is blocked or unbalanced, our relationships, prosperity, and family harmony can be profoundly affected. Feng Shui changes work like acupuncture for your home, unblocking the flow of energy and allowing you to truly inhabit your dream home. Based on an ancient Chinese practice, modern Feng Shui is "practical magic," offering common sense, real-world guidance for placing furniture, objects, and using color. While several of the adjustments needed at Sara and Tim's house are unique to homes in Northern New Mexico, others are universal:

Spruce Up the Entrance
The front door is known as the mouth of chi because it is where your friends, family, and positive energy enter your home. Unfortunately, the front door of Sara's home had taken a beating from the dry New Mexico weather. I recommended she repaint the front door and place plants in attractive planters on either side to act as welcoming "greeters" to symbolically encourage visitors. As an option, Sara could hang pots with red plants in the summer and fresh ristras in the fall, since red is the color of abundance in Feng Shui.

Fill-in the Missing Areas of the Home
Sara and Tim loved the look of the flowing floor plan of their pueblo-style home, but were uncomfortable living with it. Feng Shui divides a home into nine areas that represent attributes in our lives: wealth, future, love, creativity, helpful people, career, harmony, family, grounding. Our rambling, New Mexico floor plans can result in homes that are "missing" some of these areas, and consequently, are out of balance. When a home is missing an area, the occupants have to work harder to bring that attribute into their lives. I sketched the floor plan and overlaid a mapping chart (a bagua) to show Sara that her home was missing the harmony area, the reason why the family could not feel settled in the house. To correct the situation, we went outside, found the point where the walls of the home would have come together if it had been a rectangle. We relocated a beautiful garden ornament to symbolically mark the spot.

Curve the Straight Lines
The words Feng Shui mean wind and water, so I asked Sara to imagine sitting beside a meandering stream on a breezy day. That's the peaceful feeling I wanted her to have when she opened her front door. However, the home's front door was positioned in a direct, rather than meandering, line with the back door. We call this a poison arrow because the energy comes in the front door and runs straight out the back, like an arrow speeding toward a target. And in Sara and Tim's case, it was shooting their wealth out with it. To correct this, Sara and I removed the long runner that ran between the doors because it accentuated the straight line. We relocated a floor plant and repositioned the furniture at angles, giving the space the flowing feeling of a gallery rather than a tunnel.

Personalize Your Surroundings with Art
Sara and Tim had many beautiful art pieces, but they had not yet hung anything on the walls. "You are what you see," I explained. "If you are looking at empty walls, you are attracting emptiness into your life." In Feng Shui, the colors and shapes around us are called the Five Elements, and each element has a corresponding color and shape. If a room has too little or too much of one element we balance it with art work that adds the appropriate elements. Sara selected some pieces and began filling her empty walls with colors and shapes. The home immediately took on a new warmth and comfort.

Create a Nurturing Space for Your Children
Many children are over-stimulated by bedroom decorations and colors that are too active and awake, and Sara's two young boys were no exception. I advised Sara to paint over the too-active yellow in younger boy's room, and the too-cold gray in the older boy's room with warm pastel or "skin" tone colors like, peach, butter cream, or cocoa. We moved the action-oriented toys onto the shelves in the closet and storage bins, and displayed a few of the softer "comfort" toys on the open shelves. Unlike a master bedroom, children’s rooms should have family photos near the bed to help communicate love and security. This was especially important for Sara and Tim's boys, since they were sleeping in a separate wing from their parents. Sara promised to place a framed copy of the family's Christmas photo in each boy's room.

Add Romance to Your Bedroom
A bedroom should be a private place reserved for only two things—rest and romance—but Sara and Tim's bedroom was not conducive to either. The room was crowded with photos of their children and family, and there were stacks of work-related papers on the night tables. The vigas (the rounded beams across the ceiling) ran down the length of the bed, symbolically splitting the couple. To correct these situations, I had Sara choose a piece of art that was romantic—a print they bought on their honeymoon—and we hung it directly across from the bed. She removed the work-related items and family photographs from the room, keeping only a photo of the two of them. "Your romantic life will improve," I assured her, "if you are looking at romantic things and not at your children, parents, and friends." Since vigas and beams can symbolically weigh down on the couple, I encouraged Sara to purchase a pair of "up lights" to point up at the vigas and visually lift them. Sara and Tim are still at work on making their Feng Shui changes, but they already report feeling more at home in their house. "It's amazing how just a few, subtle moves can make such a difference," Sara told me a month after my visit, "and we are not done yet."

© Copyright 2024, Carol Olmstead