The wisdom of the past informs design in the present. For more than 6,000 years, the Chinese have been practicing the principles of feng shui, a tradition that seeks to bring together opposing forces in the world to create harmony and balance in homes. "Feng shui" translated into English is "wind" and "water" — two basic elements found in nature.

To achieve this harmony, interior designers decorate using the five feng shui elements of wind, water, fire, wood and metal. Each element symbolizes certain desirable qualities that we seek to make our lives fulfilling, such as balance, creativity, vitality and stability. The design begins with a bagua, or a map of a room divided into eight sections, each one representing a desired aspect of your life like family, good health and prosperity. The bagua is placed on top of the floor plan to see where each room lies. The front door appears on the bottom. If the living room falls in the wealth quadrant, then wood and blue are called for. If it falls in the fire quadrant, then furnishings in red should be dominant.

A fresh approach

The one overarching principle is a minimalistic design approach, which emphasizes that "less is more." For that reason, before doing anything else, it is important to declutter and air out your home to maximize the flow of positive energy into it. It is a good idea to keep windows open as much as possible to allow fresh air to circulate throughout the home.

Another essential feng shui principle is to remove your shoes before entering a house to leave any negative energy at the door so it does not travel into the home. The sound of wind chimes tinkling softly outside your front door also creates positive energy. Make sure to remove any dead plants or broken items in your home to continue the unhindered flow of feng shui throughout the house.

Here are some easy to implement design ideas for the main rooms in your own home.

Living room

Feng shui suggests that the seating furniture is the main element in the room and needs to be placed ideally on a wall with a clear view of the door. This is known as the Commanding Position in feng shui design. This seating arrangement seeks to encourage conversation. Where the living room falls on the bagua will help you decide which element to bring in. Consult the bagua to determine colors and shapes. Furniture with curved lines and soft edges is most beneficial. For example, if the living room falls in the family area on the bagua, consider bringing family heirlooms into the room to create positive energy. Adding houseplants, bamboo or even a small tabletop fountain is a way to encourage positive natural energy inside any room as well.

Home office

Only items that promote productivity and professional growth should be visible in your office. Like the living room furniture, the desk should be positioned against a wall facing the door. A wooden desk is optimal as it brings a natural aesthetic to the room. Shades of yellow, green and blue are best for encouraging creativity and relaxation to counterbalance stressful working situations.

Sleeping quarters

The bed, as the largest piece of furniture in the room, should be placed in the Commanding Position. Ideally, the bed should have an upholstered headboard to impart protection and support while you are sleeping. Avoid furniture made from hard materials such as metal. The key is to enhance relaxation with soft materials. Choose bedding made from natural fibers such as cotton and linen. Earth-hued colors such as terracotta, beige, off-white or gray in your bedding contribute to the restful atmosphere of the room. Sleeping in a down comforter boosts the positive calming energy in the room.

Once you have made feng shui part of your lifestyle, hopefully you will begin to see the rewards of its positive energy in your home and in yourself. Contact us for more ideas on how to make your home a relaxing retreat from daily cares.