No matter how many hours you clock in at the office or spend out on the town with your friends, your home should be a place where you can escape to. While our busy lives make it easy for clutter to pile up and our homes to become live-in junk facilities, it doesn’t take much effort to add just a little zen to your space. Through the adoption of feng shui principles, every space from the teensiest apartment to the most elegant townhouse can become perfectly harmonized for some peace of mind.
Feng shui is an ancient Chinese philosophy approximately dating back to 4000 BC that seeks to achieve zen by studying the energies, or qi, of different structural elements and positioning them so that they are balanced with their environment. While feng shui has had many forms and traditions throughout its long history, today it is used largely to improve chaotic interiors. To easily achieve some harmony in your hectic home, follow these simple steps to bring some zen to your space.
1. Declutter your room.
The first step to at-home happiness is an obvious one—get rid of your junk and organize the rest of your belongings. Not only is clutter a visual headache, but it also seriously messes up the qi of your home. “Feng shui is a symbolic language and sees an over abundance of clutter (stuff or an excess collection of items) as relating to bogging down the mind, physical body, and emotions,” says Laura Cerrano, certified feng shui expert and CEO/Founder of Feng Shui Manhattan. Messy spaces make it easier for your mind and body to be “easily penetrated by influences of stress, anxiety, drain and in some cases depression,” she says. Take as long as you need to do a full clean of your home and then set aside five to ten minutes each day to spend putting things away. Little chores like making your bed and keeping your bathroom counter clear make a big difference.
2. Put the tech away.
This common piece of advice is the one suggestion that no one wants to hear: Take the tech out of the bedroom. Feng Shui Master Pun-Yin recommends to “not have computer and work stuff around the sleep area because this would prevent your mind from relaxing, compromising sleep quality [and] therefore next day’s the performance.”
Of course, this can be difficult if you live in a studio apartment, college dorm, or any other small space, so if you can’t keep your laptop out of your bedroom, designate a desk or table as your workspace and move it as far away from your bed as possible. As far as leisure, Pun-Yin encourages that you keep your computer away from your bed at all times, since the “electromagnetic field that lingers around would cause excess dreams,” making it difficult for you to sleep soundly. Save the web surfing and HBO GO sessions for the couch.
3. Bring in the Five Elements.
The Five Elements are one of the major principles of feng shui, and together they help to create harmony and balance in any space. It’s rare to find an interior that succeeds in bringing together all the elements, but you only need a few decor additions to achieve this balance.
According to Cerrano, “Water represents wisdom and adaptability,” and can be brought into a room with the addition of a mini desk fountain—just make sure that the direction of the water flow is pointed towards the inside of your home instead of away to foster new opportunities coming into your life instead of opportunities fleeing.
Burning candles doesn’t just make your place smell amazing. “Fire can also help release stuck or stagnant energy,” says Cerrano. To keep the energy going, keep a candle lit. Bonus points for red candles, which invoke the element the most with their warm color.
While wood may already be present in a room in the form of furniture, it’s easy to increase the positive vibes of this element by adding plants to an interior. Pun-Yi suggests placing a flower or plant within view of a workspace to foster “clarity and productivity.”
Healing crystals and stones have been a popular tool for energy balancing across time and cultures, but they can also help to harmonize interiors. Cerrano recommends popular crystals like amethyst, citrine and rose quartz to promote healing while also serving as beautiful décor additions.
This element can add a whimsical twist to any room with the addition of wind chimes, bells, or metal sculptures. Cerrano explains that metal is connected with communication, and musical decor like bells and chimes, “relate to clearing the space with sound vibrations.”
4. Hide sharp edges.
You now have an excuse to buy that cool tablecloth. According to Ann Bingley Gallops, certified feng shui expert of Open Spaces Feng Shui, “These soft textiles cover up sharp, hard table edges which are called ‘poison arrows’ in feng shui. When you sit in the direct line of a poison arrow, you unconsciously take its sharp energy into your body, which makes you feel stressed-out and uncomfortable without knowing why.”
Other “poison arrows” in your home may belong to corners of paintings or other sharply-shaped décor objects and can be alleviated by pointing those objects away from places of comfort, like beds and couches.
5. Make it mental.
For maximum zen, use these tips together to balance, cleanse, and harmonize your home. But above all, remember that your interior can only change your life so much. For lasting change, it’s necessary to allow the philosophy behind feng shui to permeate your thoughts, actions, and feelings. “Your home is a metaphor of the life you experience today,” says Cerrano. “When you truly embrace the process of transformation with feng shui, it increases your self confidence and understanding to the relationship dynamics you have with yourself, others, and your environment.”