No doubt you’ve heard of feng shui and its popularity among home designers. But what exactly is it, and how can you apply its design principles in your home? Below, we share feng shui basics, tips for energy mapping, and decorating ideas to help you cultivate and circulate good energy in your home and your life!
Getting Started with Feng Shui
Rooted in ancient Chinese philosophy, the main belief of feng shui is that chi (energy) is everywhere in nature, and it must be harnessed indoors to create comfortable spaces and help you live the life you want.
Understand the Why
Before you can incorporate feng shui principles into your home, you need to understand why you’re doing it. Marie Burgos, creator of Marie Burgos Design and certified feng shui master, encourages her clients to first identify what they want in life.
“Feng shui helps bring the right energy so you can find balance and harmony in your life,” Burgos noted. “So the first thing to think about is what makes you happy and how you can put that energy in your home.”
Burgos adds that once you understand what aspects of your life you want to focus on, you can generate good chi in these spots with your layout, furniture, and color choices.
Remember to Declutter
Not only does clutter make your living space look cramped, but feng shui principles say that your mess could be blocking energy from moving through your home as well. Make a path for light and chi to flow by picking up shoes, bags, clothing, dishes, and other items that are out of place or scattered throughout your home. Check out our home decluttering guide for inspiration on what areas to tackle first!
If you find there are things you’re not ready to let go of after decluttering, Burgos recommends putting them away from where the eye can see. Whether this is in an extra closet, a storage room, or involves renting a storage unit, getting clutter out of your everyday path will create a better flow of chi.
Arrange the Big Three
When starting feng shui, it’s a good idea to focus on your bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen first. Because you spend so much time in these three rooms, they’re said to be huge energy centers. Even if you can’t tackle all three right away, simply rearranging one room with chi in mind can help you feel more grounded.
“Start small and try to stick with one expert’s advice,” suggested Amanda Gates, energy design expert and owner of Gates Interior Design. “Too often, people go at it from all directions, read a bunch of material, find it contradicts everything they’ve read, and get overwhelmed and confused. Then, they blame the feng shui.”
Energy Mapping Your Home
One of the most crucial aspects of feng shui is incorporating the elements—fire, earth, metal, water, and wood—into your home design. To effectively decorate using these elements, you need to create an energy map (also known as the Bagua). Why is mapping necessary? It’s believed that certain directions are linked to different aspects of your life outside of the home. To stir up positive chi in these energy centers, you must use the natural elements and their corresponding colors, shapes, and building materials to decorate.
Fire: Happiness & Power
- Shape: Triangle
- Color: All shades of red
- Bagua Direction: South
Hoping to achieve fame or gain recognition in your life? According to the western version of the Bagua, the south of your home is where this element should be most directly channeled. “Fire is a very dynamic element,” Burgos said, explaining that it’s believed to be the most powerful of the five.
While this movement and change can be most effectively cultivated in the south of your home, it should be included in all areas to bring about new things and create happiness.
Burgos suggests adding a little fire to a bedroom, living room, kitchen, or bathroom by lighting candles, building a fireplace, or adding warm lighting. Paint a wall red or use pyramid-shaped furniture to bring out this same lively energy in a hallway, office, or spare bedroom.
Earth: Relationships, Health, & Knowledge
- Shape: Square
- Color: Yellow, orange, pink, blue
- Bagua Directions: Center, northeast, southwest
To feel more grounded, Burgos recommends integrating solid feng shui earth elements. Use yellow in the center of your home to create an overall sense of health and well-being. Embrace a variety of pink in the northeast of your home to heighten intimacy in friendships, as well as in familial or romantic relationships. Or expand knowledge and self-growth by integrating blue hues in the southwest section of your home.
This warm energy can be spread throughout your home with earth-colored sculptures, paintings, and throw pillows. Include earth energies in your kitchen and bathroom by opting for quartz or marble countertops.
Metal: Creativity & Travel
- Shape: Circle
- Color: White, gray, black
- Bagua Directions: West, northwest
Metal decor is easy to incorporate into any home design! While brass and copper are popular at the moment, Burgos says anything silver, gold, or platinum also works to evoke knowledge and creativity.
Pastel colors and white decor can be used in the west of your home to foster good relations with your children and keep your imagination flowing. The northwest is primarily where you will want to decorate with darker colors and dim lighting to develop chi around wanderlust and meeting helpful people.
Include circular mirrors, round tables and nightstands, or art featuring round objects to harness the energy of metal elements in any room!
- Shape: Wavy
- Color: Black, dark blue
- Bagua Direction: North
Keep energy flowing by decorating with dark blue and black in the northernmost region of your home. Anything that represents the ocean can summon the prosperous energies of water, according to Burgos.
From glass decor and flowing artwork to fish tanks and fountains, bring the feng shui water element to life with curvy objects and wavy decor. Using diplomas, awards, and photos of you at moments you felt successful as wall decor are great options to generate abundance at work, too.
Wood: Family & Wealth
- Shape: Rectangle
- Color: Purple, green
- Bagua Direction: East, southeast
According to the Bagua, the southeast is where energy around prosperity is most concentrated. The wood element can also be incorporated in the east to bring good chi to fresh starts and family.
Burgos recommends incorporating real plants or using a green and brown color palette to invoke the feng shui wood element. Along with decorating with living things, you can pick a wood nightstand, table, or desk to evoke these energies. You could also store fine china in a wooden hutch or put family photos in natural frames!
Decorating with Feng Shui Basics
Now that you’ve learned the general feng shui rules, it’s time to think about designing rooms, curing bad energy, and making everything flow into all aspects of your day-to-day life.
Cultivate Yin & Yang
In feng shui decorating, harmony is everything. Burgos describes yin and yang as “two forces that combine and create balance,” and she says applying this principle to your home can actually be simple! Pair a sofa that has straight lines with a round coffee table, or mix a glass table with a plush rug. Yin and yang can be balanced with the shape, color, and texture of objects and furniture, as well as with levels of lighting.
Adjust Home Energies
If your home doesn’t have a feng shui floor plan, and a home remodel isn’t in the near future, there are plenty of remedies and cures to get energy moving. Feng shui fixes can be as simple as purifying the air by adding plants or including natural crystals in your design.
A common remedy for stagnate energy is hanging mirrors to circulate and expand chi. Not only do mirrors help multiply the positive energy in your home, but they can also remedy structural issues. For example, a front door that opens directly to your stairs is thought to be bad feng shui because chi flows in and directly up the stairs, bypassing the entire first floor. However, adding a mirror to your entryway can help re-route energy throughout your home.
Include Good Fortune Symbols
Also known as good luck charms, certain symbols are associated with bringing luck, wealth, and good fortune into your home. These feng shui items include horseshoes, Buddha statues, lucky cat figurines, bamboo, depictions of elephants, and more!
Choose Meaningful Artwork
Rather than splurging on luxurious paintings, fill your space with your most cherished memories and relationships! While there’s still room for abstract art and sculptures, an awesome feng shui tip for your home is to use photos of people you love or depictions of your favorite memories and places as wall decor.
Focus on the Front Door
“Start with the front door,” Gates suggested. “What happens at the front door affects all areas of your life. Open it regularly, keep it clean and inviting.”
Everything from choosing a feng shui front door color to arranging furniture around this portal can affect chi entering your home. Learn more about how your front door is linked to your health on episode #54 of Gates’ podcast Home Energy Design.
Mix & Match Designs
Good feng shui can be invoked in any home, regardless of your decor preferences. “It’s not just wind chimes,” Burgos joked. “You can combine feng shui with your taste and lifestyle.”
Try incorporating these ancient Chinese principles with minimalist decorating ideas, farmhouse chic interiors, mid-century modern furniture, or the latest home decor trends!
Make It a Lifestyle
Feng shui home decorating is a great place to start—but if you really want to see changes in your life, the energy system goes beyond the rooms of your home. In a similar manner to becoming a minimalist, these decorating shifts can be included in how you live day to day.
“It’s about properly aligning energy to increase flow and abundance in all areas of your life,” Gates reminded. “It’s not a one-and-done thing. Like you, it evolves as your intentions do. When you are ready to transform your life, you’ll be ready and open to receive its gifts. And once the magic touches you, you’ll never want to go back to the way things were!”
Now that you know how to feng shui your home, are you ready to give it a try? Clear space for meaningful decor and good vibes with these 16 minimalist organization and decluttering tips!