All About Homes: Feng Shui = Common Sense

FENG SHUI = COMMON SENSEVancouver-based interior designer and Western feng shui practitioner Rhea Peake was a key speaker at the fall home show at BC Place this year. Since I was there doing my own schtick with the Renovation Council of the Greater Vancouver Home Builders’ Association I decided to take in one of her seminars between my own shows. What I learned was a real surprise. Feng Shui is simply form and function, lifestyle enhancing practicality.

Clearing clutter is the first step to creating positive space. Clutter blocks life energy or “ch’i” from flowing through the home and ch’i is best achieved when yin and yang aspects of our home are in balance. Simply put, “yin” is more restful and dark. “Yang” is more active and bright. If balance is not achieved, the energy quality is poor. These age-old theories of yin-yang and ch’i are integral to good feng shui.

Every spring and again in the fall, I make a special effort to clear out all the debris that tends to accumulate in my home. Throwing out the clutter and repairing all the little items that have become frayed or worn makes me feel great. All these years I had no idea I was practising one of the first principles of good feng shui.

Feng shui (pronounced phong shway), the ancient Chinese art of placement, dates back over 3000 years. According to feng shui, the way we place our furniture, the colours we choose and the objects we uphold influence our lives. Whether it’s for architectural, interior design, home decorating, astrological or health purposes, feng shui is appealing because of its emphasis on creating positive living spaces.

Rhea uses a little chart called the baqua to help explain the principles of Feng Shui.

Each area of the bagua is associated with colour. When trying to enhance a certain area it is important to note certain colours may be appropriate in some rooms and not others. For example, you may want to avoid bright red—very yang—in the area of your home where you like to unwind after a long day.

The Five Elements (Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water) have different properties and work together in creative and destructive cycles. Feng shui tries to promote the creative cycle: wood feeds fire, fire creates ash that becomes new earth, and so on.

In feng shui the entranceway is the most important area of the home after the master bedroom.

“Entryway staircases are not good feng shui,” Rhea explains, “because the positive ch’i upstairs descends down the stairs and straight out the door any time someone enters the house.” A quick-fix for this common problem is a well-placed mirror that deflects positive ch’i back into the home.

Plants are wonderful to promote growth and healthy energy in a home, just as the accents of red in the dining room help to raise energy levels.

According to Rhea, the master bedroom is the most important room in the home.

Let’s face it, we spend a good part of our life sleeping and the bedroom should be more yin in nature to promote relaxation and healing. Rhea suggests warmer, calming colours such as pinks, mochas and apricot. Avoid bright yang-red in the bedroom because it can create arguments.

“Green,” says Rhea, “is the least complimentary colour. It makes anyone appear sickly and is simply not a romantic colour.” I think feng shui is an art rather an exact science and reflects many different schools of thought.

Avoid placing your bed directly under a window or with your feet pointing directly out the door where ch’i constantly flows in and out.

Symbology in the bedroom is very important. Mirrors are a “no-no” and pictures of people should not be in the bedroom. Books should be contained in bedside tables and TVs are not recommended. If you love to watch TV in bed, contain it in an armoire. Basically, anything that can compete for your partner’s attention should be out of sight.

As with any bathroom, the doors to the master bath should be kept closed at all times. Preferably the bathroom should not be visible from the bed so “thoughts and dreams do not go down the toilet,” explains Rhea. It’s funny because the first thing I ever heard about feng shui was to make sure the bathroom door is closed to hide the view of the toilet.

After all, while feng shui is based on symbolism, colour and balance, most of it just makes good common sense.

Rhea Peake is a Western feng shui consultant who says Vancouver and Santa Barbara are the best feng shui locations on the West Coast. To learn more about Western feng shui visit