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Our home is where we want to feel at home. Practicing the art and science of Feng Shui is one way we can make this happen, possibly bringing around peace, wealth and overall positivity to our lives.


Feng Shui, pronounced foong shway, translates to wind (fēng, 風) and water (shuǐ, 水). It is a Chinese means of creating harmony and balance within our personal and professional spaces through design, centring around the flow of energy (Chi or qi, 氣) and the yin and yang. The practice is closely aligned with the Five Elements of Chinese culture: wood, earth, fire, metal and water.


My parents always lived by the traditional Chinese mentality, and they’ve always been keen on aligning the places we lived in Australia and South East Asia with the elements of Feng Shui. For them, rooms and furniture have to be laid out a certain way. Although I learnt why my parents are meticulous about Feng Shui, it’s not something I’m sold on today. At least not completely.


Feng Shui has been around since the 9 BC or maybe even earlier, and China is known to have developed the Feng Shui compass which is also known as the Luo Pan (luó pán, 羅盤). Legend has it around 25 BC the Luo Pan was presented to the Yellow Emperor Huang Di to assist in a heroic battle against evil wizards. Taoist philosophers including Lao Tzu in the Zhou period (600 BC) and Confucius during the Han dynasty (206 BC) related their principles to the concept of Feng Shui. The Great Wall of China was designed based off the principles of Feng Shui with the curved wall signifying constantly moving qi.


It’s no surprise many Chinese are keen on choosing places with a good view: facing a swimming pool or the sea (water symbolises wealth) or higher apartment floors to avoid traffic noises or nosy passerbys. Choosing a place with auspicious numbers (such as 2, 6, 8, and doing away with number 4 floors in some Asian countries) is also common. In Australia, real estate agents note Chinese property buyers in Melbourne don’t mind paying more for these kinds of properties. Less noise and commotions outside, the more one can relax in peace at home.


2. Door placement


A house where the front door is directly aligned with the back door is generally not desirable. This conjures up the image that energy coming in from the front flows out directly. The front door leading to a relatively open space as opposed to an enclosed a bedroom, kitchen or bathroom is more ideal With such a floor plan, all the more energy anchored in the centre of the house can flow to all corners of the home instead of qi dominating a certain room.


An open door is also symbolic of invitation, welcoming guests as much as welcoming camaraderie and energy. During the Lunar New Year, many Chinese tidy their front door entrance and leave the door open for good luck to usher in prosperity. Personally, I keep my front door locked at all times because I rather not have any stranger any enter my house.


3. Bedroom


The bedroom is probably our most personal room at home. It could be the room we call our very own or share with someone who means the world to us. Placing the bed in a position facing the door is preferred, but not directly under a window as qi may fly out (rushing air and outside noise filtering through can disrupt sleep). Same goes for sleeping on a bed directly facing a mirror as this is believed to be symbolic of infidelity and one might get more nightmares about themselves.


Also, one side of the bed against a wall is said to disrupt the flow of qi around the room. For good Feng Shui and added sleep support, the top of the bed should have a headboard leaning against a wall (but not against a wall with the toilet on the other side).


Personally, sleeping directly under a window is not something I like; as someone who likes to wake up at midday on days to myself, even with the blinds down light filters in. As for headboards, never been a fan of them and I prefer stacking pillows over each other as a means of supporting my back, head and neck while sleeping.


4. Water fountain


The only greenery I have in my apartment is a small potted plant gifted by my parents. It sits in the corner of the living room, and sometimes I forget to water it. A lot of the time I forget it’s even there.


6. Colour choices


Colour in Feng Shui strongly correlates with the Five Elements in Chinese culture as well. Red and yellow are reminiscent of fire/relationships, black represents metal/luck, brown is all about earth/knowledge, green symbolises wood/health/wealth and blue illusrates water/career.


It’s common in Chinese culture to colour code the home by type of room and geographic direction: for instance, paint the living room which is facing East to activate the wood element. To counter inauspicious waste water (yang) and negative qi in the bathroom, lighter cream and white (yin) colours are favourable. Earthly dark brown and dark muted red tones are also popular colour schemes in many Asian homes as these shades offer a sense of groundness – a stark contrast to white and black minimalistic modern looks very much popular in the West these days.


I’m not keen on colouring up my home that much. White and cream coloured walls, carpet and tiles is the way I like it as the darker the ambience and furniture, the more I feel like I’m ‘caved in’ so to speak. I do like a splash of light blue here and there blue is my favourite colour and I feel calm looking at blue.


7. Clear clutter


Each of us interpret Feng Shui on our own terms.There are different approaches to Feng Shui. Some might see Feng Shui from the traditional a Chinese cultural perspective and others from a Western mindset – philosophy vs science, soft science vs hard science, superstition vs proven methodology. Neuroscience and architectural research by sociologist Dr John Zeisel argues man-made environments affect us and we in turn have an effect on our surroundings with our actions – this is a basis of Feng Shui. Moreover, it’s interesting to note the differences in the design of different gardens: many European gardens tend to lean towards artificial beauty and showcase man dominating over nature, while classical Chinese gardens tend to reflect symmetry and imitate nature.

我們每個人都用自己的方式來詮釋風水。對風水有不同的看法。一些人可能從傳統的中國文化視角看風水,另一些人可能從西方思維模式看風水。這是哲學vs科學,軟科學vs硬科學,迷信vs方法論。社會學家Dr John Zeisel的神經科學和建筑學研究認為,人造環境影響著我們,而我們的行為反過來又影響著周圍的環境,這就是風水學的基礎概念。此外,有趣的是,不同的園林在設計上也有不同之處:許多歐洲花園傾向于人造美,以人為本,而中國古典花園傾向于體現對稱和模仿自然。

Does Feng Shui work? Is it an art and science that all just boils down to common sense? Or is it something we’re inclined to believe because it worked for others throughout history? Few studies have been done on the effectiveness of Feng Shui. A study in 2017 by Auckland University of Technology looked at the relationship between feng shui and hotel success, and found two accommodation properties with poorest Feng Shui ratings had the weakest feelings of success.


At the end of the day, we want to be comfortable at home, comfortable in our most personal space where we can just be ourselves. I’ve always been a believer in making our space our own based on what we like and makes us tick. There’s nothing like making something ours and feeling connected to it.


Do you practice Feng Shui?