The use of feng shui within interior design came to the fore in the early to mid-1970s – but is this approach to furnishing and decorating a home still relevant?
With the “New Age” era very much a thing of the past, one would expect that many of the practices adopted by the western world to have dwindled.
It’s true that feng shui is rarely referenced in modern design, but do certain burgeoning trends present us with clues that this “old-school” practice is due to make a comeback?
In this article, Property Solvers – experts in selling homes fast – will explain the basic concepts behind feng shui and explore its relevance when it comes to furnishing a contemporary home.
What is Feng Shui?
With a name that can be directly translated as “wind-water”, traditional feng shui is a Chinese concept that dates back to at least 4000 BC or even earlier.
When applied to design or furnishing, the practice involves the placement of certain elements or features in particular locations in order to harness the “qi” or “energy flow” of the room.
In its original spiritual incarnation, feng shui was a calculable practice. Numerous instruments and techniques were developed in ancient China to precisely compute various arrangements and ensure they adhered exactly to certain principles.
While feng shui was originally used in the orientation of buildings according to their environment, the modern approach tends a little more towards the placement of furniture, decoration components, and color schemes.
Exact accuracy and the use of specialist instruments have become less of a priority in modern times. Practitioners of contemporary western feng shui use the technique more as a way of creating balance, harmony and a sense of wellness through design.
The westernization and monetization of this ancient practice have been criticized on occasion, but there are many ways in which feng shui can be used as a series of practical guidelines for interior design without the decorator shamelessly appropriating a spiritual custom.
Examples of Feng Shui
Feng shui is used to arrange a room in a way that ensures “energy” is able to flow through it as efficiently as possible. Whether or not this concept is something you believe in, it is perhaps the best way to explain the approaches involved.
Everything from the placement of a bed or sofa to the way in which storage spaces are used are subject to the rules of feng shui.
Classic examples of harnessing feng shui to furnish or decorate a room include the use of sunlight, the inclusion of natural items such as plants and pebbles and the hanging of mirrors to reflect more attractive parts of a space.
There are rules involving your color palette too. Certain colors are assigned to the five different feng shui elements – wood, fire, earth, metal and water – and the directions of the compass also dictate the colors and materials that can be used in particular positions.
North is the “water” zone, and the feng shui technique suggests using blue or black in this zone. South is “fire”, East is “wood” and the West is “metal” – and there is guidance available regarding the colors that best suit these directions and elements.
Is Feng Shui Dated?
The western adoption of feng shui became very much a part of the 1970s “New Age” movement, which has not been in vogue for some time.
However, recent years have seen the concept of “wellness” growing considerably as a trend, with practices like yoga and meditation now more popular than they have been for decades.
This, coupled with the heavily visual nature of today’s social media, may see feng shui come to the fore once again.
After all, platforms like Instagram and Pinterest have considerably boosted the way many of us look at the design, with the use of colors, shapes, and textures now regularly utilized to intensify a sense of relaxation and comfort in an increasingly comprehensive manner.
Design and organization trends such as minimalism and “decluttering” – the latter heavily influenced by author Marie Kondo – also reveal that we are once again taking an interest in the way our domestic surroundings affect our state of mind.
Should You Use Feng Shui?
While Westerners who have adopted feng shui have occasionally been criticized for picking and choosing elements of an ancient tradition they do not correctly understand, and western feng shui “specialists” have been accused of profiting from the abuse of a sacred system, this isn’t to say that your choice of interior decor cannot be influenced by feng shui in some way.
Many of the concepts involved in this practice represent sensible design approaches in their own right. “Decluttering” and assigning certain spaces for certain tasks (not keeping work-related items in your bedroom, for example) will make your home a more relaxed place, for example.
Even the apparently strict approach of assigning certain colors to certain areas may be a neat way of organizing your rooms in a simple and attractive way.
How to Harness Feng Shui Today
While the western “New Age” approach to feng shui may seem rather dated, many of the techniques themselves may offer some valuable ideas for those planning to refurbish a property.
Sticking to the practice religiously can be time-consuming and painstaking – but referring to certain aspects when you’re struggling for inspiration may just help you to find the answers you need.
The “scrapbook” approach to home design is very popular. This involves searching the internet and the world around you for inspiration and combining your findings in a way that produces something attractive and personal for you and your family.
This option is often favored over sticking to one form of design religiously – as the latter can have a negative impact on the outcome. After all, it’s very easy to become “blinkered” and fail to consider other options.
Of course, if you are seeking a way to increase the sense of spirituality in your property, attempting to decorate it in accordance with the precise dictates of feng shui may be just what you need.