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A couple of weeks ago, our Facebook fans asked Nancy Canestaro of Feng Shui Ladies their toughest decorating questions. Nancy picked her favorite 5 and answered them for us (she also gave us a bonus answer, which includes teaching us to find our personal I Ching Trigrams).

 A true exercise in feng shui, this Lori Dennis bathroom features a balance of natural elements: wood, water, metal, fire (light) and earth (river rock stones).

A true exercise in feng shui, this Lori Dennis bathroom features a balance of natural elements: wood, water, metal, fire (light) and earth (river rock stones).

My daughter lives in Arizona and her yard needs work badly. Does Feng Shui apply outside the home? — Nancy Wagner

Oh, yeah, the outside energy is important. The biggest benefits that Feng Shui offers come from alteration of the land around a house. There are three issues here. First, is there any area outside your daughter’s house where nothing grows? I’ll bet this is a problem in the arid heat of Arizona. If this is the case, she can turn this area into a beautiful rock or cactus garden, something that won’t require much maintenance. Second, is there a clear pathway from the street (the main area of energy flow for most of us) to her front door? You want chi (energy) to meander gently from the street all the way to the main entrance, and into the house. A way to achieve this, if the street in front of her house is straight, and the driveway coming onto her property is also straight, would be to create a meandering pathway from the driveway or street to the front door, not a bowling alley lane to the front door. At the front door have her create the effect of a “bright hall.” In Chinese, it’s called Ming Tang. This area could be a landscaping bed or a cluster of plants…not prickly cactus right up close and personal to the house, but more the succulents or soft and colorful plants. This area can be nestled alongside the pathway, in front of the main entrance. It helps to channel positive energy to the house. Finally, have her eliminate any clutter or dead vegetation around the house. You want to encourage all the living energy you can to come your way. Energy inside your house is only as good as the positive energy generated from the land.

How doyou create a Feng Shui environment in a home with four kids? All their stuff! It’s a recipe for stress and I feel like Feng Shui is so hard to achieve without spending a lot of money on storage systems. Help? — Nanette Hoey

This calls for the creation of a time-out space, one for the grownup in this equation…YOU! It sounds as though you need to create a happy place somewhere that is in a kid-free zone. Sometimes, just to go somewhere, sit, and look at a beautiful view, or the changes of nature, or the bugs crawling across flagstones for even just a few minutes can regenerate your spirit more than a garage full of storage systems. It’s the stress you need to deal with, and right now! Maybe later, when you’re more energized, you will come up with some creative solutions for storing the stuff that has accumulated around the kiddos in your life. Now, let’s go searching for that haven of peace. Where in your home do you have a peaceful feeling? Where would you go to have a quiet moment, read a book, or meditate on your life? The point is that we have an intuitive sense about where the best place is for us to recharge. Trust your heart and defend your space.

I just found a Feng Shui book at a flea market and wanted to learn more. One thing they mentioned is to close your drains. Has anyone of heard that one? — Sondra Peters

Feng Shui has so many beautiful metaphors for describing how life works. One I particularly love is the notion of the “house as a body.” If your house were a body, the windows might be the eyes and the main entrance into the house the mouth. To take this a step farther, think of the kitchen as the stomach in the house/body and the bathrooms as the elimination organs. Now, it’s not that effluent is coming back into your home for real. Using this analogy, what you want is for the energy of things you need to eliminate in your life to leave the house, not come back up. The Chinese, who understand the effects of detrimental and beneficial energy in a home, would close the door to the bathroom near any bedroom where someone is sleeping at night, and also close the drains for the same reason. I find I personally sleep better when the door to the bathroom just off my bedroom is closed. Try it. See if it works for you. That’s the real beauty of many of the Feng Shui remedies that you will read about. Many cost nothing, just a change in personal perception and behavior.

I need help! My backyard is so small. I want to create a peaceful area to play pool or tennis/volleyball. There’s a trampoline, an adventure swing set and the double carport is back there too! — Rebecca Perez Lopez

What you’re asking about here is really an issue of Yin (peaceful energy) or Yang (active energy). A peaceful area or an active place for playing pool, tennis, volleyball — which do you want? You wrote that it’s a small area. I’d decide which energy you want outside and then go for it full tilt. Or, you could do the backyard seasonally. How about Yang in the summer when outdoor activities are high on everyone’s list? Then, in the winter, when the kids are in school and it’s quiet and cooler outside (Yin), put away all vestiges of playground activities that you can and create an area for inspiration and contemplation.

We collect books. I call our decorating style Early American Book. I was wondering how Feng Shui deals with books? Thousand of books! — Deborah M. Allen

You’re talking to another book-a-holic here and unfortunately for both of us, what Feng Shui calls it is clutter. Books gather dust, and are heavy objects in the aggregate. They generate Yin: quiet, slow, bring-you-down energy. So here’s what I suggest: Cluster as many of the books in one room as possible. This room is now the library, which used to be very much in vogue. Your library shouldn’t be in a place where someone sleeps or anywhere you want to be active. What you’ve done is to reduce the clutter in other areas of the house, which will energize those spaces. At the same time, you have created a quiet, more tranquil space in your book-lined library.

How do I make my husband’s hospital bed in the living room harmonious and peaceful? —Joanne Jensen Boehly

You’ve asked a question that is near and dear to my heart: how to increase someone’s energy level using Feng Shui. Feng Shui energy affects the land, the house and also people. One philosophy of Feng Shui calculates the impact of energy in natural and man-made environments. I am the first to admit that it can be daunting initially to understand. For this reason I suggest that you download Feng Shui Step by Step. After reviewing this, you’ll see that each of us is one of eight I Ching energy patterns, called a Trigram. Each Trigram includes the best colors, objects and locations in a house or room to enhance personal energies. Once you know your husband’s Trigram, make sure you use his best colors around him, such as in the bedding and decor. In addition, place his bed in his best area in the room with the pillow side facing his peaceful direction. Finally, place objects nearby that match his personal energy. This may seem like a lot of work, but the presentation makes it very simple, and doing it will help you understand all that Feng Shui can do to improve your husband’s energy level.

PS Learn more about the 5 elements of Feng Shui and how to decorate your kitchen and bedroom the Feng Shui way.


Design Inspiration

36 Responses

  1. 1naturelover says:

    Thank you so much for all the wonderful information. It will be very helpful as I chose a new home and start from scratch. I appreciate your time and knowledge. Ann

    • Ann… A lot of this is about trusting your instincts as you look for your new home. Use what your heart is telling you all the way from the outside into the houses you are considering. I don't care how good a deal a house is, if it doesn't feel right, it probably won't live right either.

  2. Fran says:

    Your download of step by step is very interesting. Thank you for all that great info. Now I know why I have always wanted aquariums. I have small bowls of fish and even some aquatic frogs. I would LOVE a big aquarium. They are so relaxing. BTW I am the water energy. It makes sense.

    • Hi Fran…

      I'm so glad you went through the Feng Shui step-by-step information that I posted. Now, why don't you take it "step-by-step". Purchase a fish bowl with a fish or two in it and place it beside your bed. Fish are optional though. So, if you travel, or don't have the time to tend fish, you can use just water. A fun thing to do is to go to your nearest pet store and purchase the little toys they have for aquariums. Buy the one that makes you laugh. Just take it a step at a time :)

  3. Melanie says:

    I really enjoyed reading this even though I'm not immediately dealing with any of these issues. I figure that anything I can do to increase my knowledge of Feng Shui will serve me well when making any choice about my living space. And now I will have to look into Trigrams as well. Thank you, Nancy!

  4. carla says:

    Your tips worked! A few weeks ago I came across your post and went through the slide deck (Step by Step) to determine me and my hubby's trigram (me dui, him gen). And I tried to figure out the house part as best I could.

    After that I concluded that his energy nourished mine, and mine most likely depleted him. The position of our bedroom seems to be more suited to me than him, too. I pretty much felt like the house and I were sucking the chi out of him. When you couple that with the employment circumstances we've been in for the last 16 months, I wanted to do whatever possible to improve the energy in our family.

    So I made a few changes: I stopped trying to drive him (and his piles) out of our home office in the NE part of the house. We began sleeping with the bathroom doors closed, drains closed and toilet seats down. I redistributed some red objects in the house, putting them into rooms he spends considerable time in, including our bedroom. And we started having candlelight each night. He thought it was weird, but I can live w/ that.

    Fast forward 3 weeks – he has 2 job offers, and another CEO has accepted his resume. The job offers aren't perfect, but after 16 months of unemployment for both of us, we are thrilled at the opportunity for reliable income. He's a COO, or was, and has submitted over 600 resumes during his search. I finally ended up starting my own business and there has been steady progress forward for a while now. So between the good chi and the good Lord, we have more good stuff happening than before. It feels great! We're gonna have candles every night!

    • Hi Carla…

      I compliment you on working your way through the full process that is posted. Now why don't you go back and use the same process for just the bedroom. Currently the energy in the bedroom is advantageous for you. You would like to like to improve the energy for your husband. So, this time around why don't you:

      1. Find the best sector in the bedroom for your husband's energy. (Review slides #29-35 in the PowerPoint presentation.)
      2. Place the bed so that his head and pillow are against the wall in that area of the bedroom.
      3. This may not be possible because of placement of doors, closets, etc. If you can't place the head of the bed in his best sector direction for sleep in the room, try the bed in his 2nd or 3rd best direction for sleep. (Review slide #56)

      Carla…you're not wierd. You're showing your love for your husband with these gestures. And who doesn't think of romance and love when candles are lit!

  5. Carla Bobka says:

    Nancy, Thanks for the follow up suggestions. I'll try looking closer at the bedroom sectors for him.
    Another note on the candles- As I think back to earlier in our marriage (pre-kids) we would have candles at dinner frequently. One particular night there weren't any lit and I still recall my husband asking for some to be lit, because they helped him relax. It was a middle-of-the-week dinner at home, nothing special, but he knew the effect on himself of the candle light. Now I know why.

    Can you suggest a way for me to find someone in my geography who could come to the house and help me go deeper with feng shui?

  6. My pleasure, Melanie! The more aware you are of the possibilities, the more likely you will be to explore it. For me, Feng Shui opened up a whole new wonderful world. I wouldn't go back to my old ways of reacting to life. I choose to be proactive. -Nancy

  7. What you have recently explored is part of Classical Feng Shui. This approach uses a compass and the year a building was built to determine remedy suggestions for a building. There are two Masters who teach this method in the U.S… Larry Sang from the American Feng Shui Institute and Joey Yap from Mastery Academy. You could check with these two schools for practitioners in your area.

    If there is not a classically trained Feng Shui practitioner available to you in your local area, then you could consider having a Feng Shui reading conducted from a distance. You will need to provide the practitioner with a proportional plan of all floors of your home, a site map with notations about slopes and other landform features, photographs inside and outside, and a compass reading taken out the back direction of your house.

    A word of warning… if you do not get an accurate compass reading, then everything that follows will be in error. So, if you elect to use this approach, your Feng Shui practitioner will give you specific instructions on the type of compass to use and the way you take the reading.

    • Carla… You have to be careful, because there is also another system of Feng Shui that is practiced in the U.S. It's intuitive in nature and uses a fixed system of energy patterns, such as the relationship corner or the wealth corner to determine remedy placement. Someone can be a practitioner from this system after a weekend workshop or reading a few books. Intuitive practitioners will often combine decorating, staging, or the use of crystals and mirrors to move energy. You have to decide which version of Feng Shui to use. I recommend a classically trained practitioner, because of the rigorous training and knowledge they have received. -Nancy

  8. AnnMarie says:

    I just came across your post and wanted to add that a month my husband took the kids on a camping trip and I finally (after 20 years!) cleaned out the clutter from (me and my husbands) bedroom…it took 3 full days to change it into a bedroom from a storage unit. I surprised my husband by hanging up some of his favorite Hawaiian art work along with my favorite things, eliminated the clutter completely, and even cleaned out the desk drawers. The look on my husband face when he first saw it… I can not even begin to tell you how much this has changed the entire feeling of our home, our relationship with each other and 2 teenagers, its amazing! I have 5x more energy, sleep better, feel more able to solve/cope with problems. I am not exaggerating, I only wish I had taken the time to do the bedroom when I did the rest of our house using Feng Shui 3 years ago. Make the time, its worth it!!!

    • Nancy Canestaro says:

      You started with decluttering your bedroom. Why not move next to where you prepare meals and eat? When your home environment is clutter free and calm, you can more easily go out and deal with the chaotic clutter in the rest of your world. To me this is what is important… having a Nurturing Home to return to at the end of the day.

  9. Melissa says:

    Hi Nancy,

    I want to know if you have any tips for artwork in the home. Are there fs rules for family photos or wall art?


    • Hi Melissa…

      Art is so personal. From a Feng Shui perspective, it's best to have art around you that inspires you. This includes family photos. One thing I've noticed about art is that people often have at least some art around them that was given to them. Again, art should be personal, help us transcend the here and nowe. Another thing that happens, in times of turmoil, we tend to surround ourselves with "darker art" than we typically would. What I suggest is that you go around your home, view each piece of art or photo, and ask yourself…. "do I love this",and, "does it go with where I am now in my life"? If no, then replace it with something you do love. In Feng Shui, there are also five elements… WOOD/trees and plants, FIRE/sunsets and candles, EARTH/pottery, METAL/sculpture, and WATER/fountains that you can bring into your home. My suggestion is to enjoy the process and keep it up to date.

  10. Laura Fernandez says:

    I want to learn more about Feng Shui and I have no idea where to start. I believe that energies are very important in our environments and while our outdoors (nature) are already Feng Shui our interiors are not always because we know so little about it. I am having a hard time finding the right information, and there are so many conflicting information out there. Maybe you could point me in the right direction. If you know of any class worth taking in the DC area I will also be very interested in that.


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