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What's Behind Door #1?

Thu Feb 05 2015 | Author: Carol Olmstead
I get a lot of questions after my monthly ezine goes out, and this month I answered one about which door to use when orienting the Feng Shui bagua, the front door or the door from the garage to the house. The simple answer is the “front door,” because it’s the way your home was designed to be entered, but deciding which is Door #1 for you is far more complex.

“Thank you so much for your book and informative newsletter, I'm a fan,” Sheryl wrote. “My question is, which door is the primary, the front door we never use, or the garage/laundry door we use all the time?”

Ah, there’s the phrase that got me thinking: we never use the front door. Many of us hardly ever open our front door because we pull right into the garage. In Feng Shui, the front door is called the “mouth of chi” because that’s where all the positive energy and wealth enters your home. So if you don’t open the front door, symbolically you don’t open yourself up to the possibilities to attract wealth. So I suggested to Sheryl that she try using the front door more often, even if she only opens the door each morning to greet the day.

That still doesn’t solve the problem of entering your house through the laundry room, mudroom, or cluttered hallway each and every time you come home. Not the most relaxing site to come home to, is it?

Some of the decorations near my garage door.
“If you come in through the garage like I do,” I advised Sheryl, “make sure that entrance is as pleasing as your front entrance. Paint the door between the garage and house the same as your front door, use the same door mat, and if you decorate your front door for holidays do the same with your entry door.” I reminded her that in Feng Shui thinking, an attached garage is considered one of the rooms in your house so you need to decorate it with the same care as you do with the rest of your home.

I often suggest that people decorate the area around the door from the garage to the house with bright, cheerful art that welcomes you home. Or, hang a bulletin board or white board near the door where you can post a joke of the week, family photos from the past weekend, or upbeat messages to each other. You work hard all day and coming home should make you smile.

What do you see when you pull into your garage – a can of dried up paint and an old set of tires, or something attractive? Email me and let me know.

Posted in: Room By Room | Tags: feng shui, doors, garage, mouth of chi, entrance

Yours, Mine, and Ours - Some Advice for Combining Households

Sun May 05 2013 | Author: Carol Olmstead
Spring is the start of wedding season, and as a result it’s also the time when I start to get the questions about combining bedroom furniture and household possessions. My client Lena wrote with the good news that she was engaged to Daniel, the man of her dreams, but that moving in with him has raised lots of questions about the Feng Shui of combining their bedroom furniture. Should she keep her dresser, or use Daniel’s furniture? How many of his “knick-knacks” did she want to keep in the bedroom and how many of hers? What about keeping family pictures in the bedroom?

I’ll analyze Lena’s situation question by question as an example of how to decide what to keep.

First, Lena wanted to know if she should move her dresser into Daniel’s bedroom or use his furniture. While both of their dressers were dark wood, they were different styles. Plus, adding her dresser would make a total of six pieces of furniture in the room. I advised Lena that the first Feng Shui decision was to make sure both she and Daniel liked all of the furniture. If any piece didn’t seem to fit in with the others, or if one of them truly disliked it, it was a better Feng Shui choice to replace it. I reminded her that sometimes when blending households you have to live with the pieces from both people for a while until it becomes obvious which pieces work and which don’t fit together.

Second, Lena asked about the photo of Daniel’s grandfather that he kept on his dresser, since she was concerned it wasn’t good Feng Shui to have photos of a decreased relative in their bedroom. I explained that the only photos in a master bedroom should be of the couple -- no children, parents, grandparents, friends, or pets, especially if they are deceased. And I also recommended that she use this as an opportunity to take an engagement photo that they could instead display in their bedroom. I also reminded Lena that in Feng Shui, pictures of relatives should be displayed in the Family Area or Helpful People Area of their home, and that by moving the grandfather’s picture to a more public area of their home they were actually honoring his memory.

Next, Lena told me that Daniel kept a light blue teddy bear on his bed, which he long ago received as a birthday present from his now-grown daughter. I recommended that it was time for the teddy bear to go, especially since Daniel’s relationship with his daughter was now strained. Instead, I suggested finding a current photo of the daughter and hanging it in the family room near a picture of Lena and Daniel to symbolize a healthier relationship among the three of them.

Finally, Lena told me about the two black ceramic cats that Daniel displayed in the bedroom. He bought them on a business trip to China before he met Lena, but wanted her to keep them on her dresser. However, Lena doesn’t like them. I explained to Lena that while Feng Shui principles do suggest keeping things in pairs in the bedroom, if she doesn’t like the ceramic cats, they shouldn’t be kept anywhere in the bedroom. Instead, I recommended that the next time she took a trip with Daniel they should pick out a pair of objects they both like to display on her dresser. Daniel can relocate the ceramic cats to his home office as a reminder of his business travels.

When a couple moves in together and combines their bedroom furniture, art, and decorations, they often end up with more than they need -- and some things they don't like. But as always, it's Feng Shui to the rescue.

Posted in: Room By Room | Tags: feng shui, bedroom, furniture, combining furniture, romance

Rearranging Your Rooms for Happiness

Sat Apr 06 2013 | Author: Carol Olmstead
You already know that a few Feng Shui changes in the right places can make you feel more comfortable in your home, well now a survey commissioned by Lowe’s home improvement stores and Money Magazine is telling us that changes in certain rooms can also make you the happiest. According to the survey, almost 75% of people who had made home improvements within the past two years were happier, compared with 66% of people who hadn’t made any changes. The study also showed what we Feng Shui practitioners have been telling you all along -- that the four rooms which affect happiness the most are the living room, family rooms, master bedroom, and kitchen. Feng Shui changes in your bedroom can help lowering anxiety and encourage sleep, adjustments in your home office can help you work more efficiently, and rearranging your family room can increase family togetherness.

Turns out the areas that affect happiness the least are the garage, patio, and deck, but of course that does mean you can neglect those either.

These are some of my favorite Feng Shui changes to promote happiness, especially if they are made in the four critical rooms:

Put your sofa in the right spot. The sofa or chair that you most often sit in should be positioned so you can see the door to the room. That's because when you face away from activity, your brain is more likely to produce cortisol and adrenaline, the stress and anxiety hormones.

Add shelves. Messy rooms can cause anxiety, but a minimalist setting isn't ideal either. Add shelves to display your favorite things, but make sure you keep them neat.

Hide the TV. Researchers have found that the more TV you watch, the more you overestimate the affluence of other people, with the result that you become less happy. To help control how much you watch, conceal the screen in any way that makes you less likely to turn it on.

Let the sun in. Sunlight boosts mood, so hang draperies far enough outside the window opening so that during the day the view is unobstructed.

Vary the light sources. When a room has uniform lighting, it's harder to connect with other people. Instead, choose a mix of task lighting, diffuse ceiling lighting, and hanging fixtures with dimmers. Replace fluorescent lights with warmer bulbs to reduce fatigue.

Encourage sleep. Install double-pane windows in your master bedroom to muffle sound, hang light blocking shades, and keep lavender plant or a lavender diffuser in room to help you fall asleep easily and sleep better.

Sit in the power position. In your home office, locate your desk chair in the power position, which is diagonally across from the door with your back to a wall. Try to position your desk so you can see both out the door and out a window. If your office doesn’t have a view, hang artwork that shows natural scenes and landscapes.

Posted in: Room By Room | Tags: feng shui, home improvements, kitchen, living room, family room, bedroom, rearrange,

TV in the Bedroom - It's Always Something

Sat Jan 19 2013 | Author: Carol Olmstead
My friend Jeri asks the best Feng Shui questions. She sometimes calls them crazy, but I think they’re pretty astute, and they always give me ideas for blog posts and newsletter articles. Here’s her latest:

We are having a built-in made for our bedroom, with drawers, a hamper, and a place for a TV. Unfortunately, the TV will be across from my bed. Do you have any thoughts? Do people put shades in front of the TV? We have been so long without a TV, I'm not even sure we need it. But then, I would want to put a mirror in that space, which is even worse Feng Shui! It's always something, as Roseanne Roseannadanna used to say.

First, Jeri, I will publicly admit that I do have a TV in the master bedroom. There, I’ve said it and really, it's not the worst thing you can do in contemporary Feng Shui.

I long ago stopped recommending to clients that they keep the TV in an armoire and close the doors before going to sleep, or drape the TV with a sheer scarf after turning it off. Let's face it, you won't do it so why set yourself up to fail. The main thing is to keep the TV from becoming the primary focus in the room, and don't worry about covering it or screening it off at night. Modern sets are so sleek and slim that the old rules don’t necessarily apply, but I do recommend against one of those honkin' big sets if you can avoid it. And, if you can place a current picture of you and your husband near the TV that will help send the message that watching TV is something you do together.

But Jeri was right that “it’s always something,” because the mere mention of a mirror across from her bed gave me a case of the Feng Shui shivers. That’s definitely a Feng Shui no-no. Mirrors create active or yang energy in the room, and that’s not going to help promote restful sleep. So the modern Feng Shui rule of thumb is to limit the number of mirrors in your bedroom to no more than one, and to make sure it’s located where you can’t see yourself in it the first thing in the morning. Most of us do look a bit like Roseanne Roseannadanna in the morning, and who wants to start the day with that image burned into your brain.

Yup, it’s always something.

Posted in: Room By Room | Tags: feng shui, bedroom, TV, mirror

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