Have you ever walked into a home and felt stifled and uncomfortable, as if the air was a little stagnant?
According to Diane Valentine of Greenport, the likely reason is blocked energy, something for which she says the art of feng shui offers solutions.
“There are many definitions of feng shui,” said Ms. Valentine, who recently conducted workshops at Floyd Memorial Library in Greenport on feng shui for the home and on home staging and decor. “Mine is that it is the acceptance and understanding of the flow of energy — called ‘chi’ — within and around us. And through that acceptance, we achieve balance and harmony in everyday life, and that includes our domestic surroundings.”
Ms. Valentine places the origins of feng shui around 300 B.C. in China when people began to recognize the necessity of living in harmony with the earth, air and water that surrounded them.
“Over the centuries the art has changed and has accommodated elements of different belief systems like Buddhism, but the bones of feng shui are to do with balancing our own energy,” she said. “Just as when we are ill, it may be that one of our chakras — which are energy centers in the body — is blocked, so too an uncomfortable house may be suffering from blocked energy.
Applying feng shui principles to the home is all about ensuring energy flow.”
When you walk into that stagnant house, Ms. Valentine suggests imagining a tidal wave coming in through the front door.
“Can it flow naturally around the furniture?” she said. “It needs to meander easily through the house.”
To ensure that unobstructed flow of chi, Ms. Valentine suggests focusing on the front door — a very important component of the home because it is where energy enters.
“In many colonial-style homes out here the front door opens onto a long hallway that leads directly to the back door,” she said. “You don’t want the energy to rush through the house and straight out of the back door, so you slow it down by placing a mirror or a plant to the side of the rear door.”
Furniture placement is also critically important.
“There should never be any furniture with its back to the front door, so the sofa and chairs should always face the main entrance to the home,” said Ms. Valentine. “In the bedroom, the bed should ideally be placed in the middle of the room, with equal spaces on either side, or there could be relationship problems.”
She also advises ensuring that windows are not blocked, saying, “You need to bring the outside in.”
Hand in hand with providing a positive flow through the home is achieving a balance between the yin and yang (the feminine and masculine), which are complementary principles of Chinese philosophy.
“Yin is represented by the earth, warmth and curves whereas the yang represents heaven, sharpness and edges,” explained Ms. Valentine. “You need to take this into account with the shape of your furniture. If your chairs are angular, balance the angles with an oval rug, for example.”
The same principle applies to the exterior of your home.
“Balance the hard edges with a curved walkway to the front door and rounded plantings,” advised Ms. Valentine. “I can’t emphasize enough the importance of that yin/yang balance both inside and outside.”
Colors, too, contribute to an overall feeling of well-being.
“Remember that there are five elements involved in feng shui: fire, water, wood, metal and earth,” said Ms. Valentine. “Here’s just one example of where you can create a very jarring atmosphere by painting a room the wrong color. Kitchens are associated with the fire element. They’re hot places so use lighter colors to achieve balance.”
Putting on her related hat as a home stager and décor expert, Ms. Valentine is also very keen to encourage removing clutter.
“You know that you can feng shui your house to get it ready for sale?” she asked. “I guarantee if you remove accumulated stuff and take a close look at furniture placement, you will create a feeling of well-being in yourself and in every potential buyer who enters your home.”