What is the meaning of Feng Shui: and how can you use it at home?

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More and more people are starting to ask themselves ‘what is Feng Shui?’ as the practice experiences a resurgence around the world – especially as we spend more time at home and seek ways to connect with the spaces around us.

Although not much is known about its origins, evidence suggests that Feng Shui has been used in some Chinese homes and towns for over four thousand years. But what does feng shui mean? The words “Feng” and “Shui” mean “wind” and “water” respectively and are derived from the idea that human life is linked to the environment around it.

What is Feng Shui in relation to our homes? This ancient Chinese practice is based on the philosophy that the arrangement of objects, colors and environments can achieve harmony and balance by harnessing and encouraging positive energies, or Chi.

Here, an expert designer explains what Feng Shui is and why we should use it in our homes.

What is Feng Shui?

neutral office with interesting bookshelves and abstract art

(Image credit: Patrick Williamson)

Feng Shui stems from the Taoist belief in Chi, or the life force that inhabits everything. Chi may be known more commonly as the yin and yang elements – the opposing but complementary forces that cannot be separated and bring balance.

Feng Shui is a method of balancing the yin and yang in the spaces around us to harness and complement their balancing effects.

Feng Shui in the bedroom, for example, goes through Placement of Feng Shui furnitureand is used to help improve rejuvenation and well-being, while feng shui front door can help set the right tone for welcoming guests and welcoming you home after a long day.

neutral living room with floor to ceiling glass and balcony

(Image credit: Anjie Cho Architect)

“Traditionally, Feng Shui is called the art of placement, or a way of looking at the flow of life force Chi energy in your home in alignment with the Dao. Dao is an ancient Chinese philosophy that studies how humans can live in tune with nature and in harmony with nature. says designer and Feng Shui expert, Anjie Cho of Anjie Cho Architect. (opens in a new tab)

“I also like to define Feng Shui as the mindfulness of spaces. Paying attention to all the details of your environment and recognizing and working with the fact that your spaces affect you just as you affect your spaces. Our inner environments are intrinsically connected to our outer environments, so if we can recognize and bring some attention to the spaces of our homes, we can also, in turn, begin to bring more tension and change into our lives.

“We can then have homes that support and nurture us rather than creating more challenges and obstacles, because we have enough without creating more with our homes, right!”

How and why do experts use Feng Shui?

entrance filled with planta

(Image credit: Paul Raeside)

Feng Shui is traditionally used to ensure good health, bring luck and prosperity, and improve relationships.

“Feng Shui isn’t just for homes, it’s for any kind of space we create – natural spaces, work spaces, living spaces – it’s how humans live in harmony with their environment.” Anjie points out. “We could even say that our internal environments or our bodies can also have Feng Shui, or we can look at the Feng Shui of our bodies.

‘So thinking specifically about home, home is our refuge, it’s the space that most represents you. Especially after the pandemic, we know that our homes are really affecting us. As humans, we moved into these interior environments to create shelter, to create home, and how we can organize and create space that supports us is important.

“When we use Feng Shui and consider how to live in harmony with our surroundings and with our homes, then we can begin to live more in harmony with ourselves and our families.”

“People now recognize that home is so important and that means having a supportive home. You should be able to walk through the door and there’s not much clutter in the way, there’s space to move around, you can feel relaxed in your home and it’s a place to recharge.

Bedroom with large rafters and lingerie separator

(Image credit: future)

Feng Shui can be used in all areas of the home and for different purposes. Feng shui in a living room is important, for example, as it is traditionally the gathering space for friends and family. It’s also likely to be the first main space you enter the home, so setting the right tone and energy for the rest of the home is key. Another easy way to incorporate Feng Shui into your home if you’re just starting out is to consider adding plants with special Feng Shui meanings throughout your home.

Anjie particularly recommends practicing Feng Shui in the bedroom as it is one of the only private rooms in the house. “You spend a lot of passive (or Yin) time in your room. First, you restore, rejuvenate and allow your body to rest and your environment can affect this. Second, when you are in the passive Yin state, you are very sensitive to the energies around you, so it is important to look at the Feng Shui of your space.

What are the 5 principles of Feng Shui?

The five elements of Feng Shui are water, earth, fire, metal and wood. These originate from Taoist philosophy and are a system that examines the cycles of nature and how they work together in balance. Each element is associated with certain qualities, as well as colors and shapes that you can use in interior design to enhance your home and your life.

Water: represents wisdom and our connection to others and the world around us. The water element is represented, unsurprisingly, by shades of deep blue, black, and wavy, asymmetrical shapes. You can add the element of water to your home through water sculptures and water pictures.

Earth: Earth is the element related to personal care and nourishment. It is related to earthy colors such as yellow, orange and brown and to heavy, square objects. Earth is the easiest element to incorporate into your home, as any larger object, such as a desk or rug, can introduce earthy tones into your space.

Fire: Fire represents passion and inspiration and easily enters your space through lighting and lamps. Fire is also related to warmer colors such as fiery reds and bright oranges as well as sharp triangular shapes.

Metal: Metal is another element easily introduced with metal fixtures already present in many homes. Metal conveys the qualities of joy, beauty and precision. White and gray, alongside metallic colors, represent metal alongside circular shapes.

Wood: Wood is linked to growth, healing and vitality. The wood element is represented in the design by green and blue colors and large rectangular shapes. Indoor plants are a great way to incorporate this element into your home.

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