Making your house a home can be stripped back to a few basic design principles including space, lighting, colours and texture. The rooms in a house serve varying purposes, ranging from a peaceful place to relax such as your bedroom, to your home office which should inspire creativity and drive. Key interior design rules, many of which have been inspired by or developed from with eastern philosophy such as feng shui, can help you on your way to creating the perfect space.
Translated, ‘feng shui’ means wind water. Described simply, the main aim of feng shui is to allow positive ch’i (energy) to move freely around your home, encouraging the inhabitant to feel calm and happy. This can be done in a variety of ways; from the external architecture, to the colour of the walls, to the positioning of mirrors and plants. Chinese philosophy believes we can influence the feel of our homes through yin and yang energy (to create balance aim to harness both in a room; feminine and masculine, light and dark, cold and warm), the 5 elements (wood, fire, earth, water and metal), the Bagua map (this diagram allows you to ascertain which rooms and colours belong where in your home), and the Commanding Position (this basic principle refers to the placement of your furniture such as your bed or desk), amongst other things.
Interior Design and Feng Shui in Action:
The desk is the most important feature in any home office. And choosing the perfect piece of furniture is only the beginning. Placement of your desk is also integral. Make sure you consider glare on your screen (don’t have your back to the window) and your positioning within the room (your back to the door can make you feel subconsciously uneasy, whilst facing a wall can be uninspiring). Placing your desk within natural light is the best form of lighting, followed by a desk lamp to ease your eyes, and layered lighting throughout the room. Also consider the backdrop behind you. If you spend a lot of time on video calls you’ll want to avoid a background of people passing behind you, or anything personal that you’d rather wasn’t on show to your colleagues.
Put into practice, feng shui in your home office has many correlations and similarities with interior design rules. For example, the ancient belief would recommend in a home office that your desk was against the back wall, with a clear view of the door. This is known as the Commanding Position and is one of the basic principles. The wall behind you represents a mountain that will support you and give you confidence when making decisions, especially in business. Having a view of the door allows you to be best prepared for whatever life throws your way.
Often the place where you’ll entertain guests and spend quality time with friends and family, the living room has ample opportunity to be an eye catching place in your house. Acclaimed American interior-designer Angie Hranowsky recommends using different textures and materials in a room to make it pop, such as metal mixed with wood, or woven fabrics such as rattan with lacquered furniture.
This can be directly linked back to feng shui’s use of the elements. The Eastern philosophy claims that by bringing as many of the five elements as possible into your house, you’ll create balance and harmony throughout your home.
An important design ratio to remember when choosing colours is the 60-30-10 rule. It’s a classic decor rule that helps create a colour palette for a room or space. It states that 60% of the room should be a dominant colour, 30% should be the secondary colour or texture and the last 10% should be an accent.
Colours also play a significant part in both design and feng shui principles. Interior designers will advise on a colour scheme that suits the need of their clients. For example, if they have a high-stress job and need a sanctuary when they come home, they may be prescribed blue, green and teal for their walls, as, according to colour psychology, these colours denote calm and rest. In feng shui these colours are connected to the wood element, which represents vitality and new beginnings. heathline.com also states that these colours may help you sleep, offering you the most benefit in your bedroom.
Examples of Feng Shui in Modern Architecture
If you’re still on the fence about the legitimacy of feng shui, your mind may be swayed by it’s application upon a number of well-known, high-profile buildings. The Sydney Opera House was designed by the architect Jorn Utzon. Arguably one of the most famous buildings in the world, the Opera House harbours many feng shui elements, in all aspects of the word. A feng shui principle is to make use of angular design, and also the element of fire. Being a fire-type construction makes it perfect for housing arts and creativity, yet as it is surrounded by the sea, the water-element is also brought into play. In feng shui terms, this isn’t a good mix, as water combats fire, but it’s believed that this great destruction of harmony makes for a highly passionate environment to create memorable art.
Another modern approach to harnessing the power of feng shui is seen at The Apple Store on Regent Street. The shop was specifically designed to move foot traffic in the opposite direction to positive ch’i energy. This concept causes subconscious confusion, leading perspective clients to make impulse purchases and be more susceptible to sales pitches. It is also meant to dissuade people from thinking logically, and make decisions based on desires. Whilst this may all sound far-fetched, it’s proven to work as the store makes more money than any other store in London, grossing over £3,000 of sales per square foot annually. And the store is 11,000 square feet. You do the math.
Whether this overview has left you eager to bring elements of feng shui into your own home to harness clarity, energy or peace, or caused you to feel curious by the way that architects weave it into their work, we hope it’s offered a new perspective on the practice of interior design.