How to Use Feng Shui for a Happier Home

Learn how to bring positive energy into your home with feng shui, the ancient Chinese practice that encourages balance and harmony.

Your home's design can have a significant impact on your overall happiness. A space that makes you feel good reflects positively on other aspects of your life, and to meet this aim, the ancient Chinese practice of feng shui has been applied for thousands of years. "Feng shui is really an art that celebrates science," says Gabrielle Santiago, a Los Angeles-based interior designer and feng shui expert. "Its purpose is to achieve harmony and balance between humans and their environment."

Neutral living room with Scandinavian style
Victoria Pearson

What Is Feng Shui?

Feng shui, which translates literally to "wind and water," was historically used to select favorable places and times for building homes, growing crops, and other life-sustaining activities, Santiago says. The philosophy is based around the elements of earth, metal, water, wood, and fire, which can all be represented through various shapes, colors, and materials throughout a home. The right balance cultivates happy, organized spaces that support our well-being and daily lives.

The Chi

One of the most important factors is the chi, or energy, in a room. Joanna Lily Wong, feng shui expert and principal of Ennate Design & Development, suggests thinking of chi like the flow of water, which can range from still to rapid. "In a large room where there's not a lot of furniture, the energy rushes in like a flood, which can make you feel lost with nowhere to go," Wong says. Conversely, a small room that's packed with too much furniture doesn't give the energy space to move, resulting in a stagnant feeling.

Feng Shui Tips for a Happier Home

"[Feng shui] is rooted in the idea that you find positive energy not by crossing your fingers and hoping for it, but by seeking it," Santiago says. To foster a harmonious feeling in your own home, try these simple ways to incorporate feng shui.

renovated neutral-colored living room with pink and blue accent pieces
Lisa Romerein

1. Clear away clutter.

According to the philosophy, excessive clutter can impede the flow of energy in your home. "If you're feeling tired, depressed, unmotivated, or claustrophobic, the chi in your home is probably too slow," Santiago says. Employ organizing solutions that help you minimize clutter, especially around passageways like doors and halls. Remove any obstacles that stand in your path as you move through your home, and let go of unnecessary or unwanted items that are taking up valuable space.

2. Open up the traffic flow.

Choose feng shui furniture arrangements that allow for open pathways into and around rooms. Blocked traffic flow results in blocked chi, Wong says. In the living room, for example, avoid layouts that place the back of the sofa toward the entrance of the room, and consider swapping your square coffee table for a circular one. "Rounded corners are preferable to sharp edges because they allow for a smoother traffic flow," she says. For better feng shui, think about how you move through a room and make sure your route is smooth and clear.

white entryway bold rug
Stacy Zarin Goldberg

3. Design a welcoming entry.

"The reaction that you have when entering your house is the energy you're going to bring into the rest of the home," Wong says. Create a positive first impression with a tidy entryway that feels bright and inviting. Incorporate plants inside the entryway and around your front door to foster a welcoming atmosphere. Fix doors that stick, or finicky locks that cause frustration when you arrive home, and add plenty of lighting so you're not immediately walking into a dark room.

4. Bring in feng shui plants.

Plants provide a literal connection to nature, lending energy and freshness. Decorate rooms with plenty of plant life, taking care to choose varieties that are appropriate for your home's light conditions and your ability to care for them. However, beware of spiky or pointy leaves. "Plants with rounder, softer leaves help ensure you're not subconsciously on edge," Wong says.

Bedroom with geometric throw blanket and artwork
Helen Elizabeth Norman

5. Utilize the command position.

In feng shui, the command position refers to where a piece of furniture is located in relation to the door. When you're lying in bed or sitting at your desk, for example, you should ideally be able to see the door without being directly in line with it. The best spot is often located diagonally from the door with a solid wall behind you. This represents your ability to effectively handle opportunities or threats that come into your life. As Wong explains, this can be traced back to our animal instincts. "You want to be able to see who's entering your private space, but positioning yourself directly in front of the door puts you in a vulnerable spot," she says.

white living room with patterned chairs
David Tsay

6. Create balance with feng shui colors.

Depending on the shade, color can either ground or uplift a room, so to achieve the right balance, choose carefully. In general, muted, nature-inspired hues will encourage calm, while brighter, more vibrant colors will increase energy levels. Wong recommends keeping darker colors lower to the floor to provide a solid foundation. Then apply light colors on walls and ceilings for a balanced, open effect. The opposite application (light-colored floors with dark walls) can lead to an imbalanced feeling.

Remember that the goal isn't to achieve perfect feng shui. Focus on small changes that help you feel more relaxed and content. "Your home is a reflection of yourself," Santiago says. "The positive changes you make are positively and beneficially reflected in your life."

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