The idea of spending money to enhance your home's (uh… apartment's) "energy" can initially feel wildly comical at a time in our lives when most of us are only slightly (very slightly) starting to comprehend what a Roth IRA is, let alone how to successfully complete the laundry in a timely manner.
But, bear with me because this stuff is rooted way deeper than your quarter-life disorganization.
Feng shui (pronounced "fung-shway"), the ancient Chinese art of placement, is not, despite its sometimes misunderstood reputation, a new-age tool that, well, only new-age tools should utilize.
As much as you’d like to dismiss it, I suggest you save yourself the eye roll because the benefits to be reaped by taking ownership of your home’s personality are too good to pass up.
The literal Chinese translation of feng shui means wind and water — two elements that are in a constant, harmonious flow.
Good feng shui is associated with good health, prosperity and productivity while bad feng shui signifies bad luck, misfortune and inactivity.
Feng shui operates on the belief that everything — people, stationary objects, etc. — possesses unique energy, or chi (pronounced "chee"). That energy is thought to be in a constant state of flux, so the ideal layout of a space should encourage its natural movement.
The goal in feng shui is balance, which the idea of yin and yang perfectly represents.
Yin, which represents soft, passive energy, and yang, which represents a more masculine, direct energy, should exist harmoniously in order to achieve optimal feng shui.
So, what does this mean for you and your overflowing hamper, still-unpacked boxes and week’s worth of mail on the counter?
Turns out, as complex — even mystical — as its principles can seem, feng shui is actually pretty easy to apply to any living situation.
The basic process doesn’t have to cost you much (if any) money.
The idea is to change how your home feels and in turn, change what you attract and how you conduct yourself. Literally every nook and cranny of your apartment can benefit from feng shui, but to start, do a simple audit of your space.
Your focus should be on these items to start: the entrance, the kitchen and the bedroom.
Here are some things you can do right now to welcome better energy into your home throughout those rooms.
Plus, none of these tips cost more than $5. You’re welcome.
1. Golden Feng Shui Rule: Eliminate Clutter
This applies to every single room, corner and crevice of your house.
It's a totally free way to breathe easier in your home and it’s the most effective first step toward a feng-shui-approved living situation.
Unfortunately, not only will decluttering be your first interaction with feng shui, it will also likely be the most time and labor intensive, so you might be tempted to rationalize your way out of it — but don't.
Once you clear the clutter, it'll be worth it.
The idea behind it is simple: less physical clutter means less mental clutter, which means more productivity.
Embarking on an apartment-wide decluttering movement is daunting, but once you dive in, you might be surprised by how enthusiastic you get about clearing your space.
Make a donate pile, a trash pile and a reorganization pile. And, don’t try reorganizing as you declutter. Do an audit of all your stuff first, then figure out the proper place for the things that will stay.
2. Review, Reorganize, Reevaluate
Do a simple audit of your space, starting with where you walk in and out of each day.
In feng shui, your entrance way is considered the mouth of your home, or the place where all new energy must first enter.
Paying attention to this crucial, often overlooked area can increase your chances of attracting positivity and prosperity into your home.
I understand that many of us aren’t working with so much storage space, but your front door should be able to easily open at least 90 degrees without anything blocking it.
That means no garbage cans or makeshift pantries behind it. Nada. This might be as simple as finally donating that crock pot you haven’t used in two years, thus freeing up the under-the-sink space.
Remember, eliminate excess.
Your door should be inviting so positive chi can find its way in, but more practically, so people feel welcome, and "people" includes you.
It’s the first thing you encounter each day before walking inside and it sets the tone for every other part of the space.
Respect it accordingly.
Your front door should not be naked. Shake off that welcome mat and get into the habit of vacuuming it weekly.
Buy one if you’ve been putting it off. Try placing a potted plant outside since living things signify growth, vitality and invite more of that inside.
If you can, paint your front door (green is said to attract money). If you can’t, mindfully express yourself in other ways that emanate an active life.
This might mean crafting simple, festive themes for holidays (my neighbors recently had to endure what I maintain was a just obnoxious enough Chrismukkah display).
Seeing Santa holding a menorah every time I approached my door, though? Guaranteed smile.
Make sure your doorbell and other fixtures are accessible and work properly.
Generally speaking, good feng shui means nothing in or around your home should ever be left broken. If it isn’t working or is visibly damaged, either promptly fix it or promptly toss it.
Otherwise, it is strongly believed to attract more "brokenness" into your home and life.
3. Where The Magic Happens
All the single ladies (emotionally ready dudes, too) this one’s for you! Whether you’re shacked up or the reluctant owner of more than one cat, your bedroom plays a significant role in the status of your ~romantic~ life.
I genuinely know many people (well, technically three… but still) who rearranged their bedrooms in line with feng shui in the hopes of getting coupled up, and then, shortly thereafter, entered into serious relationships.
Make sure your bed’s back is firmly against a wall. This is believed to perpetuate a sense of security and restfulness.
Your bed should also be accessible from both sides and avoid positioning it in a direct line with the door.
Keep all doors (bedroom door, master bathroom door, closet doors) fully closed at night. This promotes the flow of existing energy in the room to strengthen your relationships.
Even if you live alone, your bed should still be framed with two nightstands (ideally identical).
This grounding symmetry is believed to create an energy of partnership whereas a single nightstand, solitary images in artwork or a lone sitting chair (where there is clearly room for two) represents singularity and discourages the addition of another person to that space.
Your room is a sacred place to recharge and reconnect (to each other, not your devices). Ideally, no electronics should live within your bedroom. Realistically though, iPhones are part of our realities and often serve as our alarm clocks.
Compromise by placing phones far from your bed while they charge. As far as TVs, no way, says feng shui.
The presence of a television in a bedroom is believed to disrupt sleep and distract partners from one another.
4. What's Cookin'
Chinese tradition is far from original in designating the kitchen as the "heart" of a home as countless traditions consider this room very special.
In feng shui, the kitchen is considered the most energetically active room in any home, since not only does the room and its inhabitants possess chi, but the food prepared and consumed there carries a unique energy, too.
Stove burners are thought to bring in wealth and opportunity chi.
Some feng shui enthusiasts recommend hanging decorative mirrors behind your stove so that all of the burners are reflected, thus doubling your potential for good fortune.
Your kitchen's décor should reflect active yang: bright, bold colors, lots of light, living things (an herb garden, some fresh flowers). A popular application of feng shui is the symbol of fruit.
Displaying nine oranges, for example, attracts good luck and prosperity.
You shouldn't have your back to the door when cooking. If rearranging rental appliances isn't an option, utilize mirrors.
Keeping counter space clean is said to encourage productivity in the kitchen and elsewhere
5. Feng Shui Extras
Toilet bowls are considered to be "energy sucking."
I try to keep toilet bowls be closed and bathroom doors closed whenever possible. Chi aside, it’s just more sanitary. Plus, closing doors in general is a great way to keep you and guests focused on the present room.
Believe it or not, even your seemingly uninteresting office cube — like everything else — has chi, and since it’s where many people spend a lot of their time, it absolutely contributes to your personal energy.
While you probably don’t have control over the larger office layout and décor, you might be surprised how much small changes to your immediate space can positively impact your workdays.
Add some life to your routine. In feng shui, a "money tree" refers to any lush, green plant. Its well-rooted, steadily growing energy is said to reflect one’s finances, and should be nurtured accordingly.
Keeping a small plant at your desk is a great way to purify that stale nine-to-five air and possibly attract some extra cash.
Here are some low-maintenance options for poorly lit cubes. (Sigh. Aren’t they all?):
- Spider plant
- Jade plant
In feng shui, having your back to the door, especially in a crowded office setting, is a big red flag. It signifies vulnerability, fear and a loss of power.
If your desk isn’t positioned so that you are facing the door and if rearranging your cube is just not an option, add something reflective to your desk; a decorative item or framed mirror would work well.
Angle it so you can easily glance and see what is happening behind you at any time, thus maintaining control of your space.
I think we all instinctively gravitate toward feng shui, even if initially, we're turned off by its extensiveness.
But, putting forth just a little extra effort to your space can hugely impact how you experience it.
It's a lifestyle change any of us — even those of us who cringe when we see that Netflix has charged our account this month — can afford.