Feng shui demystified

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Whether you believe in the great spiritual effect that feng shui is said to have on your life, or you are just looking for new design inspiration: we explain the meaning of feng shui, and give tips on how you can create good feng shui in your home.

The ancient Chinese belief of feng shui is based around the notion that the way your house is built and the way you arrange objects in your home will affect different aspects of your lifei. People who believe in feng shui try to ensure that the energy in their home is always as positive as possible.

Incorporating certain colours, keeping spaces clean and uncluttered and decorating with carefully placed plants and curtains can all improve feng shui.

What is Feng Shui?

Feng shui means "Wind Water", and good feng shui is said to balance the flows of energy (otherwise known as Qi) in your home by observing certain rules.

According to the Association of Feng Shui Consultants (International) Incorporated, working with the Qi in your home (instead of working against it) can improve your health, lead to a better quality of life, and create happinessii.

Central to understanding feng shui is the concept of a Bagua, an octagonal map which outlines the nine areas of energy that should ideally be considered when arranging a roomiii.

These areas of energy correspond to certain elements which are said to affect different aspects of your life. They can be represented by certain colours in your décor to create good feng shui. For example, your career corresponds to the element of water and is associated with the colour black. The element of earth is said to be aligned with relationships or marriages and can be harnessed by colours like red, pink and whiteii.

Ideally, a room should be designed to incorporate all nine areas of energy but if the space hasn't been built with this in mind, certain objects can act as a 'cure'.

How can you apply feng shui to your home?

If you're interested in creating good feng shui in your home, you can find lots of Bagua charts online. These charts will help you consider which elements and energy flows are important to your family and how you could achieve balance in your home. You can even hire a feng shui professional to come to your home and suggest ways to improve your feng shui.

There are also certain things you can consider when buying or building a home if you want to ensure good feng shui. For example, the front door should ideally not be directly aligned with the back door, any other main door, or a staircase as this will cause energy entering the house to quickly leaveiv.

The bedroom, kitchen and bathroom are considered the three main energy centres that contribute to creating positive feng shui in a home. So if you're planning on incorporating feng shui into the design of your home, you should pay particular attention to these three areasv.

By using Bagua maps it is hoped that feng shui can create a balance of energy in the home.

What are the most common feng shui mistakes?

A home with good feng shui has a fresh, clean flow of energy. In practice, this means considering the way that air and light may be able to flow through your home and ensuring that there are no areas that are completely closed from fresh air or sunlight. A simple way to create positive energy flow in your home is to keep areas clean and clutter freeiv.

A common source of bad feng shui is the entrance to the house. This may be because your door opens outwardly which is said to push good energy awayiii. If the front entrance is a long windowless corridor, this is also considered bad feng shui as it restricts flows of energy, air and light.

These structural challenges can be difficult to change but it is possible to "cure" the feng shui of an entrance simply through decorating. For example, painting the door in a colour that corresponds to good energy and keeping the door clean can improve feng shui. If your entrance is a hallway, placing mirrors along the hall can act as a "cure".

When the front door and back door align, the energy flow can be "cured" by placing a healthy plant or round table in between the front door and back door so that energy is forced to flow around itii.

Even if you don't believe in feng shui as an art of understanding how our buildings, interiors and environment affect us, you can still draw interior design inspiration from its core practice: creating spaces in your home that are peaceful and relaxing.

iCambridge, 'Feng shui', Cambridge Dictionary Online, viewed 25 March 2014,
http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/british/feng-shui?q=feng+shui" rel="nofollow

iiAssociation of Feng Shui Consultants (International) Incorporated, What is Feng Shui?, viewed 27 March 2014,
http://www.afsc.org.au/what_is_fengshui.php" rel="nofollow

iiiPhilip Wong 2013, 'Feng shui basics for your home', Realestate.com.au, 21 August, viewed 25 March 2014,

ivRodika Tchi, 'What makes a good feng shui floor plan', About.com, viewed 25 March 2014,

vRodika Tchi,'What makes a good feng shui house', About.com, viewed 25 March 2013,