As intangible a concept as feng shui may seem, it all comes down to the basic idea of having a space you’re happy to come home to because its energy is positive. “Feng shui is an ancient philosophy about how you can improve your life and create a space that supports and nurtures you,” explained Anjie Cho, a New York-based architect, author, and founder of online mindfulness design blog and shop Holistic Spaces. Indeed, adjusting your apartment in just a few small and informed ways can make all the difference in the look and feel of your unit and, resultantly, your own wellbeing. Ahead are some ideas you can apply to your space, straight from a pro.
1. The importance of a headboard
While having your mattress on the floor may seem very zen, or in some apartments may be a spatial necessity, the pros advise against it. “A headboard is really important in feng shui,” Anjie says, “it connects the partners.” Not having a headboard can enhance the temporary feeling of a unit. If you simply don’t have space, a good alternative is wallpaper or crafting mural on the wall behind you, or mounting a mirror.
2. The 36 inch rule
No doubt about it: space is a luxury in New York. Still, if at all possible, Anjie says 36 inches of clear space between pieces of furniture should be a goal. For Anjie, there is a grace zone, but less than 18 inches between items constitutes “very cramped.” So get rid of clutter, and if it does not spark joy, try your hardest to toss it.
3. It’s not easy being green
“Cultivate kindness,” Anjie advises, and plants are a great way to do this, as they grow into both a symbol of health and life as well as a source of oxygen and toxin-removal. Anjie recommends the golden pothos, a flowering species that requires minimal maintenance and light. “It’s really easy to care for and it bounces back,” Anjie says, “And we really need to have that in New York.”
4. Cabinet tops as display space
In many rental units, the kitchen cabinets do not extend fully to the ceiling, creating a “space for bad energy to collect,” Anjie says. Potential quick fixes include filling the space with plants, lights, or a collection of beloved items— anything to keep the bad vibes away.
5. A quality gatekeeper
Pay attention to your front door, an often neglected area that, as the first and last thing people see when they visit you, is deeply important. Just taking an hour to clean the area surrounding it can make all the difference, and taking further steps like reaching out to your super to repaint the door, buying a new welcome mat to lay in front of the door, or ensuring the door doesn’t creak or squeak will have an even bigger impact.
6. A good life smells nice
Scent is very important to feng shui and is thus a valuable focus for your energies, especially in rentals where painting walls or making other long-term fixes aren’t an option (unless you want to lose that security deposit). Incense, oil diffusers, and replacing your chemical-rich cleaning products with organic substitutes can make a huge difference.
7. There will be light
Maximize light in whatever way possible. This can be done in temporary, security-deposit friendly ways, by buying lamps, opening blinds, investing in sun lights and light colored rugs, as well as in more involved but also more impactful ways, like painting your walls a clean shade of white (Anjie recommends Benjamin Moore’s Super White and a flat finish on the ceiling).
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