By Lynn Jaffee | Guest Writer
Years ago, I lived in a long, low rambler of a house that sat on a corner lot. My husband and I did some renovating which resulted in the entire yard being torn up. When it came time, we replanted the yard with grass seed (no sod for us!) and had to replace the walkway leading to the front door.
I can’t remember what the original sidewalk was made of, but it made a straight beeline from the road to the front door.
A friend who was a landscape designer suggested that we add a slight curve to the sidewalk to soften the perpendicular lines in our yard, which we did. The final walkway was a gently curving “S” to the front door, made from stamped concrete, which looked like flagstones.
The simple change from a straight walkway to one that was curved was transformative. It softened the entire entryway to our home, gently leading visitors to the front door. And it removed the severe perpendicular lines from our front yard, making the rounded edges of the small garden in the front look more appealing.
A small change affected the overall feeling of the front of our house. There are many different principles and approaches to how we design our spaces and one of the oldest ones still in practice is the Chinese practice of feng shui.
Feng shui aims to arrange human living spaces in balance with the natural world and the energies that flow through nature and the human body. These energies can be obvious, like wind or water, or more subtle, like qi, the energizing force of living things. The goal is to harness energy forces and establish harmony between an individual and their environment.
Feng shui can involve rearranging furniture, moving walls, and repositioning windows, or situating a new home in a certain area on a piece of property. However, feng shui is also about how you feel in your space, and the ways your space can help make you feel better. Think about how chaotic and stressed you feel when you walk into a messy home that’s full of clutter with last night’s dishes still in the sink.
Compare that to how you feel when you sit in a clutter-free room that’s open and airy. Much better, right? That’s the power of feng shui. And it doesn’t have to involve huge fixes or structural work. Here are a few simple changes that can transform your home:
Lose the Clutter
The simple truth is that clutter feels bad. It’s chaotic and stressful. I get it; sometimes life is busy and things get out of hand. But clutter only aggravates your stress and makes you feel more overwhelmed. Take the time to put away or throw away the stuff that’s making your home a mess.
Find Creative Ways to Maximize Your Storage
After getting rid of your excess items, storage will help with the clutter. Use beds with storage underneath, find tables with drawers, maximize the space in your linen closet, hang a few extra shelves in a closet, and find accessories that double as storage space, such as side tables, baskets, and decorative boxes.
Include Art That Is Inspiring
Images from nature, travel photographs, and objects that feel good to you are more important than finding the exact right item for the space. Art that you like is actually good for your mental health.
Use Sound to Harmonize Your Environment
You can use wind chimes, soft music, or a water fountain to help disperse noise from the outside world. I live about a half-mile from a highway. Some days the sound seems really loud, but the wind chimes outside my door not only help diffuse the highway noise, but are also relaxing to hear.
Bring Elements from Nature Inside
This can take the form of natural building materials, such as wood or stone, photos or paintings of natural scenes, or painting your walls in earthy tones.
Use Plants to Grow a Better Space
Plants are also a good way to bring elements of nature indoors; not only do they improve the air quality, but they’re also actually good for your health. Studies have found that indoor plants can decrease stress, boost creativity, lower your blood pressure, and lengthen your attention span.
Optimize Natural Light
Sunlight helps regulate your biological clock and has a positive effect on the feel-good neurotransmitter serotonin. If you have curtains, keep them open during the day and position your bed so that you’re exposed to the morning sunlight. If your home isn’t particularly well-lit, add a mixture of light sources to brighten up dark spaces.
Control Your Electronics
Electrical devices, computers, charging stations, and the like are disturbing and mix up the energy in a room. If possible, keep your electronics in your office space, kitchen, or den—not your bedroom, where they can mess with your sleep.
Along this same line, don’t store your gym equipment in the bedroom.
Choose Colours for Your Home That Feel Good
Earth tones can boost your mood, without being overly bold. Light blues and greens, as well as lavender, tend to be calming, and are ideal for bringing serenity to your bedroom. Avoid overly activating colours such as black, bright red, or orange, unless used as small accents.
The bottom line is that while the principles of classical feng shui can be complicated and nuanced, making changes in your home that boost your mood and actually improve your health aren’t difficult. A tweak here or there can be enough to create a relaxing space that feels good to you.
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About the Author
Lynn Jaffee is a licensed acupuncturist and the author of “Simple Steps: The Chinese Way to Better Health.”