KBB Collective | The Designers' Corner

Oct 02 2012

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Feng shui and keeping it real

A lifetime ago, when I was working at a Chinese-language library, I came across a book that took a practical and, at times, historical approach to feng shui, which, in case you’re wondering, is the Chinese art of designing and rearranging one’s environment to create harmony in life. Instead of employing enigmatic terms and mystical talk of poison arrows, etc., to explain why, for example, hanging a mirror at the foot of the bed is not advisable, it would offer something more accessible, such as: If you were to wake up in the middle of the night, you could mistake your own reflection for an intruder and scare yourself.

Another no-no: hanging a mirror on the wall behind the head of the bed. Why? Because it could fall and hurt you. Also, avoid positioning your bed in direct line of the bathroom. According to the book, the odor will disturb your sleep, and back in the olden days, when bathrooms were less sanitary, doing so was just plain disgusting.

Yes, the book made for an amusing read at lunchtime, but for someone who grew up in Taiwan yet was educated in an American school, it made sense.

Which was why it came to mind the other night when I attended a lively and fascinating presentation on feng shui given by interior designer and feng shui practitioner Benjamin Huntington, ASID, of Veritate Design. The talk provided an introduction to the different schools of feng shui—form, compass, black hat and cultural. The first two are traditional, and some of their practitioners may sneer at the third and fourth, which were developed on these shores.

Huntington’s talk focused on the the cultural school, offering a few recommendations on things to do and avoid in different areas of the home. Like the book, the tips incorporated human psychology, behavioral and cultural tendencies. For example, in the living room, position chairs and sofas so that those seated have a view of the front door/entryway. Having one’s back to the front door can create a sense of insecurity. In the bedroom, foster an atmosphere of harmony with matching bedside tables on both sides of the bed.

What made me sit up was the part about the front door, its usage and appearance. If your habit is to enter your home through the garage door rather than your front door (that’s me), then you are a servant in your house. One remedy Huntington mentioned was to paint the door connecting the garage to the house the same color as your front door, which provides a visual connection.

If you’re wondering why no one has been visiting you at your new place, your front door may be a factor, as its appearance can either welcome or repel people, visitors, etc. In addition, the front entryway should be clearly indicated (unfortunately, I can’t remember why) and what’s immediately visible on your right when you enter your home can have an impact on your outlook and, maybe even by extension, your fortunes.

The abovementioned are just a few random things I remembered from the talk. If you’re interested in learning more, Huntington is holding another talk tonight on feng shui and clutter, which I will attend because—as I informed him—I am the queen of clutter.

There’s also a third talk later in the month. For more information, check out his website.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012 at 3:00 PM and is filed under Inspiration. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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