About the Author
Barb Rogers became a professional costume designer after beginning her journey of recovery. She is the founder of Broadway Bazaar Costumes, and author of three books about costuming. She's the author of Keep It Simple & Sane: Freeing Yourself from Addictive Thinking, TwentyFive Words and Clutter Junkie No More. Barb passed away in 2011.
Read an Excerpt
Feng Shui in a Day
By Barb Rogers
Red Wheel/Weiser, LLCCopyright © 2005 Barb Rogers
All rights reserved.
The Main Entrance
Remember the last time you had a head cold? Remember that terrible feeling of not being able to breathe well? When you can't breathe well, it drains your energy, makes you lethargic and miserable. Imagine your main entrance as the nose to your house. The lack of good, flowing chi could affect your house the way the lack of oxygen affects your body.
Anything that blocks the main entrance or causes confusion there will stifle the flow of energy into your house or apartment. The address or apartment number should be clearly marked; if you have more than one door, the main entrance should be set apart so there is no question about which door is which. You don't want opportunity knocking on someone else's door when it is clearly meant for you.
If you happen to live in an apartment or a house with an attached garage, and you use a connecting inside door for convenience and safety, do not consider that to be your main entrance. Focus on your front door, and open it at least once a day. There may be some really good chi swirling around it with no other way to get in.
A south-facing front door is best and can bring great blessings to you. If you can, paint it red. If you can't, hang something on it that has a splash of red in it such as a wreath with red berries or your name or house number painted red.
No matter which direction your front door faces, keep it in good repair and the area around it clean and tidy. A round or oval doormat is more inviting to guests, but no matter the shape, keep it swept, and shake it once in a while.
Stairs leading up to your main entrance can make it more difficult for the flow of chi to enter, and it may exit much more quickly. Place a potted plant at the foot of the stairs and a crystal about halfway between the door and bottom of the staircase. If you have a light fixture, keep it in good repair, with the bulb working, and perhaps hang your crystal from it.
A basement apartment, where you must go down some steps to enter, could trap chi until it gets old and stale. To keep the chi moving, try using a wind chime halfway down the stairs or near the door. Be sure to keep the stairway well lit. Whether you are forced to go up or down a staircase to reach your main entrance, a mirror placed at the landing can draw good chi to it.
If your front door opens inward, you might try hanging a small set of chimes or bells above it that tinkles when the top of the door swings open. When shop owners did this in the days before electronic buzzers, the sound not only alerted them to an arriving customer, it brought opportunity to them by moving the chi through the door more quickly. You can do the same in your own home.
Once you've cleared the path for entry into your home, you'll be ready to move to the living room.
Main Entrance Colors, Numbers, and Elements
The main entrance is not only where chi enters your living space but also where others get their first impression of you. In addition, it affects how you feel about yourself. A door in disrepair, with peeling paint, a loose doorknob, locks that don't work, or just poor lighting can attract bad energy, put opportunity off, stifle creativity, and leave you with negative feelings about yourself. It won't inspire anticipation of a good experience inside either.
Most times we don't have a choice about our house numbers. However, there are some tricks I've learned to change the energy of "negative" numbers. Imagine you are stuck with a number like 666. Some consider this a very evil number. Separating the sixes by placing something in between them can counteract the negative effect. You might have your numbers done on tiles and place two angel tiles in between them. If you have a house number you particularly want to emphasize, paint it a different color.
Consult the Eight Directions Chart and the Cycle of Elements charts to determine what types of pots, mailbox, and even chairs to have near your main entrance.
Quick Tips for the Main Entrance
If your back door or yard is visible when you open your front door, place a folding screen, beaded curtains, or potted plants in your path to break the line of vision. If that's not possible, hang a crystal inside the front door.
Avoid clutter around the entrance. Place a container outside for shoes not to be worn in the house.
If there is a wall directly in front of you as you enter, hang a large mirror so chi isn't trapped.
If your front door bumps into another door, hang something red—even a piece of string—on each doorknob.
The entryway should be well lit but with soft lighting.
The Living Room
Have you ever wandered into a coffee house, a restaurant, a pub, or a lounge, sat in a comfortable chair, and said to your friends, "I love this place"? Does the conversation flow, the time passing so quickly that you want to return again and again? Now, imagine your living room as a public room. How would it feel if you walked in for the first time?
The living room is the social part of your house. It's where visitors, friends, and family interact. It is your public room. With very little effort, and the help of Feng Shui concepts, you can create that cozy atmosphere that will draw a wealth of friends, encourage family discussions, and bring people together in a convivial setting.
If your living room is rarely used, if visitors dart in and out, if children avoid the public room, you need to look at that area of your home with a Feng Shui eye. What is it about the room that puts people off?
Feng Shui is not about how beautiful or expensive your furnishings are. I've been in some fabulous-looking living rooms and found myself sitting on the edge of a Queen Anne chair ready to bolt at the first opportunity. I've also been in modest dwellings with well-used furniture and happily sipped coffee for hours.
Your living room tells people not only about your financial status but also about your personality and what is important to you. The quality of your furniture doesn't matter as much as its placement, the color in the room, what artwork you display. I always have problems in stark-white living rooms or rooms with harsh lighting. Unlike Westerners, the Chinese see white as a color of mourning. If your living-room walls are white, you can offset the cold, sterile feeling by accenting with color in paintings, wall hangings, plants, furniture, curtains, or drapes. Think again: what was it you liked about that public place?
The ideal living room is rectangular-shaped, located in the front of the house, and facing south or east. However, we work with what we have. No matter what the location of your living area, even if it is just part of a larger room, there are some simple things you can change to bring that flow of chi into your life (see diagram on page 38). And if it opens you to many good things, isn't it worth a try?
The southeast area of every room is important because it is associated with good fortune, but the southeast section of the living room is your most powerful wealth area. Wealth can mean many things. It can be a wealth of friends, family, or knowledge, or success in business and career, and it can affect the flow of money into your home. You must decide what your goal is and, using the Eight Directions Chart (see page 15), apply numbers, colors, and directions to your southeast corner. The wealth corner normally contains four purple items. Imagine you wish to incorporate correspondences from the north because you have recently begun a new career. Place the four purple items on a piece of black fabric and add a sea shell. If you are concerned with bringing family together, place a green, woody plant and two pictures of family members grouped together at a happy function with your four purple items.
Whatever you've decided to do in the living room with your wealth corner, pay attention to the Cycle of Elements charts (see pages 16–17). If you've placed a family picture near a woody plant, make sure the picture frame is not metal. As the Destructive Cycle of Elements chart shows, metal cuts wood and will cancel out all you hoped to achieve. You can correct the cycle by placing a water element between them. Metal makes condensation and water feeds the wood.
Living Room Colors, Numbers, and Elements
Your living room is like your body. You dress for success, you dress for approachability, you dress to give a certain impression when going out in public. So how will you dress your living room? How will you accessorize your room? What impression do you want to give?
Look at the Directions and Cycles charts to determine what your options are. Move that painting with red in it to the south wall; place your purple African violet in the southeast corner; put that green, leafy plant in the east. Make sure you arrange elements in the right order to avoid a destructive cycle.
A dark living room can bring feelings of isolation and depression. On the other hand, white and other stark colors such as cool blues and grays can give the room a cold, uninviting feeling. You can fix the darkness with better lighting, of course, and you can fix a stark room by adding warmth through splashes of color in throw pillows, plants, artwork, afghans, and rugs.
If your apartment is a combined living space, try to separate the areas as best you can. If you must sleep in your living room on a pull-out bed, for example, always make it up in the morning. Read the section on bedrooms and combine that advice with advice for the living room. If your living room and dining area occupy the same open space, find a way to separate the two, whether with a folding screen, plants, a beaded curtain, or a fabric swag (see page 39). Every functional area in your home should have its own distinct space.
The most important thing is to know what you want from the room—whether you want to hole up on the couch in a dark room filled with depression, or you desire company, relaxation, wonderful conversation, and a family pulled together because they want to be in that space. It is simply a matter of choice and a bit of effort.
Quick Tips for the Living Room
- Place tables between guest chairs and the coffee table between the couch and the chairs.
- The host's back should face the wall, not the door or the window.
- Don't block the doorway with furniture.
- Arrange furniture in an octagon or a circle if possible. When all chairs are occupied, each person should be able to see all of the others without turning around.
- If furniture has sharp corners and the corners point to seated guests, either rearrange the piece or place a cover over it.
- If the couch or easy chairs are sagging, place a piece of wood under the cushion.
- Make sure wooden chairs are in good repair.
- Chi flows down a slanted ceiling, putting pressure on its lowest point. If you can't keep from placing furniture under the low area, place a floor lamp or hang three crystals.
- To cancel the effect of a beamed ceiling— beams inhibit the healthy flow of chi— hang from the beams two hollow bamboo flutes, chimes, or crystals.
- Chi can get lost up the chimney. Place a mirror above the fireplace.
- Add leafy green plants to both sides, but not woody plants.
- Raise the chi in a sunken living room by adding floor lamps.
- Divide an L-shaped living room using a folding screen, plants, a beaded curtain, or a piece of furniture.
- Avoid harsh lighting or a dark room.
- Strive for good light, but keep a relaxed atmosphere by using table and floor lamps.
- Utilize natural light whenever possible.
- Use vivid or bold artwork.
- Be conscious of the materials in statues, frames, and pots for plants so you don't end up with a destructive element cycle.
- Art in the living room should evoke feelings of happiness, growth, and vibrant living.
- Never put even a picture of water on a south wall.
The Dining Room
The ideal dining room is located east of the kitchen, is a separate room, has two doors, and is not too close to the front entrance of the house. The east promotes health and growth, which is what nourishing food should give us. A room or space set aside for eating will lend itself to a pleasant dining experience and good conversation with no distractions. Two doors will allow the chi to flow in and out more easily. If the dining room is too close to the front entrance, guests will not linger after a meal, and family members will think of food as soon as they walk through the door.
What if you don't have a separate dining room and instead eat in the kitchen, in the same room as your living room, or in a corner of your small apartment? The same Feng Shui concepts can apply to any eating area. The point is to have an area specified for eating, a space that's inviting and that will encourage family members and guests to linger for conversation afterwards.
Dining Room Elements, Colors, and Numbers
What you wish to achieve through family communications in the dining room will tell you what colors to use and what additions to make. If you have a family member with health problems, place green objects in sets of three to the east. You can use pictures, candles, plants, stones, or a combination as long as you don't break the creative cycle. Placing turquoise and the number eight in the northeast will encourage a student of any age to openly discuss strengths and weaknesses in his or her chosen field.
If your dining area is part of another room, try to separate the two spaces by function. I recently did Feng Shui on a house whose living room and dining room were one long area, with the front door looking straight through to the back door. The first thing we did was paint the outside wall two different colors. The area designated for dining was painted a pale mauve to encourage the owner's relationships and more intimate conversation.
The living room was painted a darker, dusky rose and softened with white lace curtains. At the point the colors met, we painted a dark green stripe. By using two area rugs—one under the small, oval dining table and one in the center of the living area—we gave each part of the room a different look.
From the opposite wall we brought a bamboo folding screen out about a third of the way across the room and placed a large, earthen potted plant in front of it. Suddenly, the stark white, straight-through room felt different. It invited the residents to sit longer, enjoy talking and sipping coffee, and open up to each other in a better way. It has become two rooms, each with a reason for being.
It's important to understand what each room is for and then to utilize it to its best advantage. Cluttering our eating area with bills, unanswered letters, or any other unfinished business can affect our digestion and our ability to nourish our mind and soul as well as our body. Remember, it's all about balance.
Quick Tips for the Dining Room
- Don't crowd furniture or allow clutter.
- The table size should not cramp the space.
- Don't block the door.
- If the dining area is combined with other spaces, separate, if possible, with plants, a folding screen, a swag of fabric, a beaded curtain, or a piece of furniture.
-Octangle, round, or oval shapes are best.
- If the table is square or rectangular, do not seat anyone at the corners.
-Make sure chairs are sturdy, well maintained, and comfortable.
- Use an even number of chairs.
- Keep the backs of chairs to the walls.
-Include nothing garish or distracting.
- Scenic paintings or a mirror that reflects the table are best.
I've read that the living room is the heart of a house, but for me the heart is the kitchen. The quantity and quality of what we eat can affect us physically, emotionally, and spiritually. The foods prepared in our kitchen carry us through the day, make us weak or strong, help us accomplish our tasks, can determine our state of health, and influence the way we look and feel. Food is a powerful source of energy, so careful attention to where it originates and how it's prepared can give us an edge in life. What we choose to put in our body will affect every other room in our house and our lives out into the world.
The kitchen contains two strong elements: fire (stove) and water (sink). In today's world there are also the microwave (fire) and dishwasher (water) to contend with. If your water elements are too close to the fire elements, you can cause a destructive cycle in the kitchen. There is a simple fix, though. Place something made of wood between the two. A woody plant works better than a cutting board or a picture frame because it is alive. Something metal will work too, but I think wood is best.
If your dining table is in the kitchen, or if you eat at a breakfast bar or table, try placing a living plant in the center of the table or counter to break up the fire/water elements. Pay attention to the dining room chapter for tips about your eating area.
Excerpted from Feng Shui in a Day by Barb Rogers. Copyright © 2005 Barb Rogers. Excerpted by permission of Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
1 The Main Entrance
2 The Living Room
3 The Dining Room
4 The Kitchen
5 The Bedroom
6 The Bathroom
7 The Home Office
8 Foyers, Hallways, and Stairs
9 Goals and Fixes