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Home & Design
April 2014

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Design Trends & Tips - Feng Shui Design Tips

Leave hectic behind
Feng Shui ideas foster relaxation and balance

In the twenty-first century, where lifestyles and work schedules are more hectic than ever, ancient Feng Shui principles applied to modern living help provide peace and relaxation at the end of the day.

View Feng Shui tips for Decor, Furniture and Bath and spa

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Lifestyles and work schedules in the Windy City are more hectic than ever, and some homeowners are seeking ways to find peace and relaxation at the end of the day. Applying some ancient Feng Shui principles to your home décor could be the key to finding a more relaxed you.

We spoke to Feng Shui experts Marshall Erb of Marshall Morgan Erb Design, Inc. and Ruth Delf, a Chicago-area interior decorator with Susan Fredman Design Group to gather some easy-to-implement Feng Shui ideas.

“Feng Shui in its direct meaning is a parable for good design,” says Marshall Erb of Marshall Morgan Erb Design, Inc. in Chicago. “It’s a movement for making things comfortable in all senses.”

For millennia the Chinese have practiced the art of Feng Shui to balance chi (energy) and achieve harmony, health, happiness and greater productivity. The philosophy is based on the interaction and balance of five natural elements: water, wood, earth, metal and fire.

Here are a few simple pointers to balance the chi and integrate Feng Shui in your home:

Living and office spaces

  • Place a paintings rather than mirrors on the entryways in your home. Coming face to face with a mirror in the entryway redirects positive energy right out the door. Don’t let that energy escape. Instead, try a scenic mountain or garden print that will attract attention and draw a visitor’s positive energy into your home.
  • Rather than in the entryway, place mirrors so that you can see yourself clearly. Many designers use them to open up a room or bring in more light. Make sure the mirror is not distorted or too small-- that can make you look and feel distorted or small.
  • Soften pointed surfaces with a plant or a water feature. In Feng Shui, pointed surfaces represent anger or negative energy, so try to balance this by keeping any sharp-edged furniture (such as metal or glass tables) off to the side.
  • Placing something round or smooth on the surface also helps to soften the negative energy.
  • Metallic objects, such as lamps and frames, are another option because they add a cleansing or purifying quality to an area. You can also try adding wooden objects such as candlesticks or bowls - even small touches make a difference.
  • Arrange furniture in a room so that it faces main entryways. As in many Feng Shui concepts, this makes common sense. No one enjoys being startled by unexpected visitors. This placement enables a person to relax and have a full view of the surrounding rooms. Likewise, a desk in a home office should be placed so that when seated, you face a door rather than a wall or window.
  • Hang wall art in groupings of at least three and select your pieces to fit the space. This imparts a sense of harmony, as it attracts the eye, but doesn’t jar the senses.
  • Marshall Erb suggests offsetting a stone or glass element such as a glass coffee table with a few wooden side tables. Again, this combines natural elements to bring chi into balance.
  • If you have wood floors trapped under your carpeting, let them out. Wood is one of the five basic elements and tends to foster a feeling of comfort. “Wood floors can promote health and vitality in a space,” according to Ruth E. Delf an interior designer with Susan Fredman Design Group in Chicago. Designers are also starting to encourage clients to choose sustainable resources for wood flooring, such as bamboo.


Bath and spa areas:

  • The water element, while soothing, is innate to a bathroom. Therefore, some designers choose to tone it down, while others super-charge it, depending on your preference.
  • Designers like Erb may avoid the calming blue tones in order to balance a room out with earth-toned granite and marble. Metal accessories like towel racks, lighting and bath fixtures add a cleansing or purifying element to the mix.
  • Delf likes to emphasize the water element by bringing in grays, blacks and softer hues of blue. She suggests pebbled or glass tiles in a bathroom to set a watery scene. “The sound of running water creates a refreshing energy and calmness,” Delf says. Blending that with the stone or colored glass helps replicate nature.
  • Try adjustable or ambient lighting. Candles and dimmers allow you to set the mood. Plants and crystal items in key places affect the ambience as well.


One final piece of advice for transforming your home Feng-Shui style: make sure your space is clutter-free. Clutter is one of the easiest ways to disturb the peace Feng Shui aims to create.

Now, you’re ready to tackle anything that comes your way – an attitude any business savvy person wants to put forth. Add a few soft touches such as a fish tank, plants or a miniature Japanese sand garden and enjoy your new chi.

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