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You've heard of feng shui—but does your home have harmony?

This ancient practice can help your new look

A smiling couple moves a sofa into a living room together. Credit: Getty Images / Prostock-Studio

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We’ve all had that feeling. You walk into a room and something feels “off,” but you can’t put your finger on what it is. Does the armchair seem too close to the coffee table? Perhaps the mirror is reflecting an unwanted image. Is your favorite piece of art off-putting to the vibe of the room?

Whether it’s one feeling, or several, it’s possible the room in question isn’t up to feng shui standards.

When a home has been properly feng shui’ed, you feel the difference. Stefania Masoni, owner of Santa Fe-based Masoni Feng Shui Studio and certified feng shui master, says, “Everything feels lighter, brighter, and you'll want to bask in the good vibes.”

That said, a home that doesn’t follow feng shui often feels heavy, sticky, and dark. Masoni warns, “It will make you feel uneasy, and you'll want to leave.”

With help from a couple experts, we’ve gathered a few tips on how you can feng shui your own home, balancing your living space and letting your chi flow fly.

So, what is feng shui?

Home decor still life with bamboo in a vase.
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Incorporate all the elements into your space with feng shui.

You’ve heard this term mentioned in passing, but what exactly is feng shui and what does it do to your space?

The short answer: It’s an ancient Chinese practice used for thousands of years (originally by Chinese emperors) of special arrangement to create balance and positive flow with the natural world. This harmony allows space for the maximum possible flow of positive chi (or energy) through your home.

But truly understanding and implementing its practice is a bit more complex.

According to the experts, feng shui begins with the five elements of matter: fire, water, metal, wood, and earth. Even the words themselves represent two of these life-affirming essentials: The Chinese word “feng” means “wind” and “shui” means “water.”

“Each element is associated with specific colors and shapes, and possesses a unique and distinctive energetic quality,” says Masoni. The goal of a proper feng shui space is to keep all five balanced for a harmonious and thriving environment. Too much (or too little) of one element, throws the entire thing off.

For instance, when a room has too much metal, which represents clarity, logic, and focus, it can make one overly critical. Not enough metal results in lack of focus and complacency.

“[Feng shui] is a tool to create health, happiness, peace of mind, and prosperity, and it can change the energy to harmonize homes, offices, new construction, and even places where negative things have occurred,” she says.

It can even help you attract things, such as love or prosperity.

When you have a master such as Masoni designing your space, he or she will use a Bagua (meaning eight corners). This feng shui energy map is superimposed onto your home’s floor plan and relates each corner to different aspects of life (think career, offspring, love, etc.).

Clear your clutter

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De-stress by getting rid of clutter.

The number one rule of feng shui is clear the clutter. “Good energy and new opportunities cannot reach you unless they have a place to go,” Masoni explains.

Alix Greenberg, the founder and CEO of ArtSugar and a feng shui expert, agrees. “When we see clutter, it immediately creates a feeling of stress, which is the opposite of what you want in your home.”

Notice symmetry and create balance

Closeup of a coffee table with a tray including a candle and lavender.
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Don't have a fireplace? Light a candle to include the element of fire.

Once you have a clean slate to harness all those good energy forces, it’s time to employ symmetry where you can. After all, balance is everything in feng shui.

Start with your art.

Greenberg says, “If you want to have art prints on the walls, make sure they’re symmetrical to the rest of the room. For example, have two vertical art prints or two horizontal photo prints, but never both together.”

Masoni explains that what we repeatedly see becomes our experience. For this reason, she suggests hanging uplifting and inspirational art opposite your bed.

“It will be the last thing you see before going to bed and the first thing you see when you wake up,” she says.

Masoni loves peaceful landscapes, but cautions to avoid scenes of snowy winters and deciduous falls. “Also avoid keeping pictures of dead family members or friends in the bedroom, as it stagnates the energy,” she says.

Paying respect to fire is another principle of feng shui—whether it’s through a fireplace or burning candles.

Greenberg adds, “Aim to have at least one fire element in your living space. This creates a feeling of safety and coziness.”

Feng shui in the bedroom

A minimalistic bedroom surrounded by green plants and a massive mirror above a bed.
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Absolutely avoid mirrors in the bedroom.

In fact, the bedroom is one of the most important spaces to benefit from feng shui’s art of symmetry.

Masoni places a nightstand on each side of the bed, each topped with a lamp to draw in love for those searching for it.

“Once your lover shows up, the matching nightstands and lamps will keep the relationship balanced,” she explains. “A bedroom with good feng shui strengthens the bond between a couple and attracts love. When the energy of a bedroom is out of balance, the relationship can struggle.”

As for the rest of the bedroom, there are a few other rules to implement. For one, the bed should be placed on a far wall so that you can see the door. Your back to the door is a feng shui no-no that can lead to a sense of insecurity.

Also consider the color, pattern, and fabric of sheets. “We lay on them for approximately eight hours each night, and this influences our energy,” says Masoni.

Avoid stripes, which she explains the optic nerve registers as being imprisoned. Blue and white sheets are good for healing as are pastels. Red sheets are good only for Valentine’s Day—“used daily,” says Masoni, “they can incite anger and arguments.”

Experts agree on one steadfast rule: Absolutely no mirrors in the bedroom.

“Mirrors bounce energy around the room. They also reflect restless energy. When mirrors are placed opposite the bed, they invite intrusion from third parties and infidelity,” says Masoni.

You should also leave your electronics in another room, as they create distraction from being present.

Feng shui in the living room

A couple moves furniture into their new home.
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Make sure to find the proper place for your sofa and chairs.

Another living space that can benefit from feng shui is the living room. And it begins with the star of the show—your sofa.

Greenberg suggests, “The sofa should be placed at the command position to help you take control of your life.”

While the sofa or any other furniture in your room shouldn't face the door directly, it should be placed with a clear view of it.

For the rest of the room, the shape and proper placement of furniture is important for good flow. Masoni explains that too much furniture can make one feel boxed in and restricted.

Also beware “angular furniture with sharp edges that can make one feel uncomfortable without knowing why,” warns Masoni. Art deco style, which is on trend right now, features a lot of subtle slopes and rounded corners.

Even small details count

A person moves into a new home while carrying a potted plant.
Credit: Getty Images / FreshSplash

It's wise to consider the color and shape of your plants.

Even the smallest detail can make a big change in feng shui. Consider the shape and color of the leaves of any plants you may have in the space.

Masoni says, “Round leaves are harmonious and resemble coins for prosperity. Long pointed leaves represent daggers and are aggressive.”

Avoid plants with two-toned leaves, as according to feng shui principles they symbolize arguments and division.

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