How Interior Designers Can Work with Feng Shui Specialists
The ancient Chinese art of placement can be a nice complement to interior design's pursuit of beauty, function, comfort, and style.
Franca Giuliani, a New Jersey based feng shui practitioner, once helped a client named Ann search for a new home. Ann had just turned 50 and was divorcing her mate of 25 years. "Scary time for her," said Franca. "I helped her analyze potential homes using feng shui, and six months later, she chose one and closed. Shortly thereafter, she told me it was time to introduce me to her interior designer."
Ready for a dog-and-cat-fight story? Not so fast. "At first I thought Ann was trying to set me up, but I became elated that she wanted the feng shui perspective added to her home’s design work. Still, I wondered what her designer would think. I thought we could make a great team—we aren't trying to design a space; we're only trying to be its energetic voice. If given the chance, feng shui practitioners and interior designers could be potent combinations."
The day came when Tom, Ann's designer, met Franca. "I think we both felt like we were meeting 'the other woman,' but in the months that followed, we worked seamlessly to create a beautiful space."
Here's how feng shui know-how complimented the interior design work on Ann's project.
- Based on Chinese astrology, feng shui focuses on the main element of the client and what colors, shapes, items, and materials are suitable. This informed the decorating decisions.
- Feng shui analyzes any living space and provides a list of pluses and minuses that an interior designer can work with, e.g., moving a wall or relocating or removing a passage door.
- Feng shui practitioners take helpful "life snapshots" of a client, beyond the usual designer’s interview questions, which tend to be restricted to personal preferences like favorite and least favorite colors. Franca briefed Tom on why Ann's new house was important to her during a key transition period.
- Space clearing releases disturbances created by geological pressures and energy residue from past occupants of a space. Not all feng shui practitioners clear spaces, but Franca highly recommends it in advance of the design process. "One of my teachers used this analogy: If you don't clear a space before feng shui and interior design adjustments are made to a home, it's like putting fresh flowers in dirty water."
- Antiques carry a lot of odd, old energy and should be space cleared, too. Franca had a woman ask her why her dog refused to eat and spent time sulking in a corner. "I asked her if anything new came into the house recently, and two days prior, she'd bought an antique table. Wood has the capacity to absorb, and most likely the antique housed energy from previous owners—the dog picked up on it. The day after the clearing, the dog was completely back to normal."
Jennifer Ellen Frank, a New York City based feng shui designer, defined feng shui as the art of placement, but added that it’s also "the relationship between our space and ourselves." That makes feng shui compatible with interior design’s pursuit of beauty, function, comfort, and style. Jennifer listed a few feng shui considerations that every interior designer should consider.
- The arrangement of rooms in a home should not be too irregular. Rectangular floor plans are best.
- Feng shui analyzes textures, shapes, and colors—both in the physical form of the space as well as its decor and furnishings. The goal is to create a "synergetic" relationship between the outer envelope of the structure and its internal qualities, materials, and colors.
- Interior designers should call on feng shui experts to correct deficiencies caused by improper architectural configurations. For new construction homes, this helps clients correct problems in the initial design phase that would be otherwise too expensive to address later on.
- A feng shui analysis is two-fold, identifying both positive and negative factors that impact a client's prosperity, career, health, and personal potential. The objective is to activate and enhance the positive aspects of any home while eliminating or neutralizing the negative ones.
- You can understand a lot about a client by looking at their current home. Sadness, depression, or trauma can often be seen in tortured room layouts, dark corridors, congested closets, and excessive clutter.
- Clutter! It's one of the most detrimental factors against fortune, health, relationships, and overall happiness. The rule of thumb: love it, use it...or lose it. Every object in the home should be useful, practical, or an integral part of the homeowner's emotional life. Each should support a client's efforts and goals and affirm the client's life and loved ones.
- Use color to compensate for deficiencies in a room and to enhance or augment a client’s potential.
- Correct inadequate or inappropriate lighting. "I advise my clients to avoid homes that require artificial lighting during daylight hours," says Jennifer. "They drain your energy. All rooms should receive adequate light."
- Traditionally, health and fortune are created and enhanced in the kitchen. It should be located centrally in the house, and sheltered from the rest of the home. It shouldn't be exposed on more than two sides as this will drain nourishing energy.
- Bedrooms determine the quality of a client's relationships. They shouldn't have more than one passage doorway and should be located in a quiet, protected area of the home, preferably towards the rear of the building. Also pay close attention to bathrooms and dining rooms, as they impact health and nutrition.
Franca and Jennifer believe that interior designers and feng shui experts, working together, will offer clients a competitive edge that separates one designer from another. According to Jennifer, "Designers entering into a partnership with a feng shui practitioner can help clients optimize their finances, relationships, and careers; the results can lead to renewed spirituality, vitality, and health." Franca seconds that motion. "It could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship and working relationship. I just hope designers are willing to reach out and ask us on that first date."
Have you ever worked with a feng shui expert on a design project?
In November 2006, Manhattan-based blogger Jay Johnson and his partner Irwin Weiner, ASID applied the popularity of watching videos on the Internet to the house-and-garden arena. The idea for Design2Share was born. On D2S, they share their insight, tips, and strong opinions about how people design and decorate their homes, entertaining over 300,000 visitors a year; their syndicated original videos had over 22 million video views in 2010.