The living room is the main gathering place of the home, and it should therefore emit a calm, harmonious energy. Feng shui design principles can help us achieve this kind of serenity.
How to decorate your living room, based on its position in the home.
First and foremost, in order to decorate your living room according to feng shui, you will have to determine where it is located on the bagua map. Bagua maps connect areas of your life with areas in your home. The nine sections correspond to health, love, children, and creativity, helpful people and travel, career, self-cultivation, health and ancestors, and money and reputation. You can calculate what category a room falls into by thinking of the wall of your entrance door as the bottom of the map. If you live in a larger space and really want to nail your feng shui placement, you can also use a compass.
A room in your career corner could benefit from design elements that encourage growth, knowledge, and prosperity. A room in your travel corner is prime territory for photos and accessories from faraway lands you hope to someday visit.
Each bagua section also corresponds to a certain element. Here's the breakdown:
- Health and center: earth
- Career: water
- Self-cultivation: earth
- Health and ancestors: wood
- Wealth and prosperity: wood
- Fame and reputation: fire
- Love and marriage: earth
- Children and creativity: metal
- Helpful people and travel: metal
So let's say your living room is in your reputation area; you may want it to incorporate more of the fire element. If it's in the career corner, pull in some more water. Here are some ideas about how to adjust your décor accordingly:
If you want to add more fire:
Add candles (make sure they're all natural!) dim lighting, books, paintings, essential oils, and photos of people and animals. You can also add some triangular shapes in your décor. If you have a working fireplace, start using it more!
Inspiring books can also feed the fire within. The books in your living room should not be a collection of untouchable antiques or the classics you will never read again. Remember that your house is meant to be lived in, not just admired. (Plus, always having a new book handy means you won't be tempted to hop on your phone to pass the time.)
You can also add more soft surfaces like blankets that invite you to cuddle alone, with pets, or with your loved ones; a comfy couch you love lounging on; and a soft rug for bare feet. These can also inspire you to get cozy with loved ones. After all, feng shui can really help rev up your relationships for the better.
Last but not least, I tell all my clients to end their day on a meditation chair or cushion. This can promote relaxation before bed and help us process the day that has passed. Once you carve out space to meditate, it becomes much more second nature, so why not devote a corner of your cozy living room to finding some Zen?
If you want to add more earth:
Add some square furniture and terra-cotta planters. Oh, and dim the lights! Our moods will suffer if we are exposed to harsh lighting or sudden light changes, so prioritize natural light and adjust your blinds throughout the day.
If you want to add more metal:
Add a statement piece in the middle of your coffee table, like a big metallic bowl. Paint your walls crisp white or buy metallic frames for your photos.
If you want to add more water:
Add black-and-white photos, paintings of water scenes, soothing crystals, or even a small water fountain if you're feeling ambitious. Another fun way to suggest water energy in a space is to add more music. A gong, guitar, harmonica, a sound bowl—you name it: It will make your home's energy more vibrant.
Mirrors can be another good addition. Go for one large mirror that creates depth in your space—too many small mirrors are thought to "cut" your energy.
If you want to add more wood:
Pull in green shades using pillows, curtains, and accents. You can also use plants and flowers (but make sure they always look fresh and lively; dead or decaying plants are a no-no). Not only are they everywhere right now, but plants have the ability to clear the air. My favorite low-maintenance houseplants are peace lily and mother-in-law's tongue. Stay away from spiky cactuses, as they create subconscious internal tension.
You can also add a wood statement piece like a large oak table or bookshelf. Make sure that it's something that makes you happy every time you look at it—something that's completely unique and defines your style. If it's an antique, don't forget to clear its energy with sage first (here's a quick primer on how to do this safely).
Consider keeping all the ingredients of a good space clearing—a sage stick, a beautiful ceramic bowl, matches, herbs, a beautiful tray, and a bell—on hand in your space. If these are readily available, you'll be more likely to use them often, and our homes can always benefit from a periodic clearing.
How to position your furniture to boost feng shui:
Now that you've added some elements that promote balance in your living room, you're ready to rearrange your furniture. Here are my top tips for positioning larger items so they promote a calm, harmonious energy.
Move your favorite armchair so it faces the door.
Place your couch or favorite armchair in the "command position" where you can see the door from your seat. According to feng shui, having your back to the door will cause you to feel threatened, like someone might surprise you in your sleep.
Move your couch so it faces the door.
The same goes for your couch placement! Make sure it's not on the same wall as your door either.
If possible, move your seating area away from windows and beams.
It is also best to avoid placing your seating area underneath a beam or a window. Having a window above or behind the sofa will deprive you of a sense of security. The beam will have a "cutting" effect: If something cuts you from above, you will feel subconsciously threatened by it.
What to avoid in the living room to boost feng shui:
Keeping your TV on can create mindless distraction. Instead, opt for objects that promote mindful entertainment. You can use a recording device, a DVD player, or smart TV in order to watch shows and movies intentionally. Make TV watching your choice—not something you do by default. Avoid multitasking and leaving the TV on in the background, as this can actually make us less mindful and more stressed out and unhappy.
Too much visual clutter.
Toys, electrical wires, electronics, and old magazines often make a living room feel cluttered. Before you do anything, do a quick declutter and make sure your living space is filled with only the necessities.
Do not forget to keep up with a decluttering routine, and create low-maintenance storage systems for your most-used belongings. In small spaces, I like to use benches and coffee tables to store things like shoes, toys, blankets, slippers, and pillows. You can also keep a secret slipper stash in your storage bench so you can maintain a shoeless living space.
I also recommend that you keep a journal in your coffee table where you write about your day and where you write your intentions and things that you are grateful for.
I think leaving a huge armoire in the living room is a mistake! It makes people feel small and unimportant and does not produce a sense of peace like low furniture does. I would also avoid glass coffee tables, as they tend to have a harsh, sharp energy.
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