Feng Shui Your Bedroom
Is your bedroom a peaceful haven you retreat to for rest and romance, and emerge from feeling refreshed and renewed? If not, a little feng shui may be just the thing your room needs.
Feng shui — which literally translates to "wind and water" — is the ancient Chinese art of placement. The goal is to enhance the flow of chi (life force or spiritual energy), and to create harmonious environments that support health, beckon wealth and invite happiness. At its most basic level, feng shui (pronounced fung shway) is a decorating discipline based on the belief that our surroundings affect us.
In the bedroom, "Feng shui helps you arrange the space to support your best rest and connection with your partner and with yourself," says Los Angeles feng shui consultant Jayme Barrett, author of Feng Shui Your Life. Whether you buy into feng shui's philosophies or not, many of its principles simply make good design sense. Here are nine simple feng shui strategies that will turn your chaotic and uninspiring bedroom into the serene and sensual sanctuary of your dreams.
1. Use Welcoming and Calming Colors
Its cultural and spiritual symbolism aside, "There's no doubt that color impacts our psychology and our physiology," says David Daniel Kennedy, a feng shui teacher and consultant in Berkeley, Calif., and author of Feng Shui for Dummies.
Feng shui practitioners recommend warm, rich earth and skin tones such as terra cotta, copper, coral, cream, peach, tan and cocoa for creating a cozy, welcoming atmosphere in the bedroom. Soft natural colors like light blues, greens and lavenders lend the bedroom a quiet, tranquil vibe and invite healing energy. Bright reds and oranges are typically associated with yang — the masculine half of the yin and yang energy equation — and are too stimulating.
That said, "Pink and red are the colors of romance, and using them in the bedroom can increase the romance in our relationships," David explains. Just limit these passionate hues to accents around the room — especially on the bed, in the form of sheets, pillows, throws and other linens. If pink and red aren't your thing, try variations such as burgundy, pomegranate, eggplant and magenta.
2. Position Your Bed With Care
In feng shui, the "commanding position" for the bed is as far away from the bedroom door as possible, but in a spot which still allows you to keep an eye on the room's entrance. "This gives you a sense of safety and protection while you rest," says Jayme. The corner of the room diagonally opposite the door is usually best, since it distances you from the door while keeping the bed out of direct alignment with the room's opening, which is conducive to sleep, relaxation and healthy chi.
Feng Shui-Focused Home
- Try not to position your bed under the lower angle of a pitched ceiling, a ceiling fan or a heavy beam. These features are thought to contain "depressing energy" that literally pushes down on you while you sleep. If you have no choice, a bed canopy or lengths of fabric suspended from the ceiling or beams are believed to be feng shui "cures" for the problem.
- Avoid positioning your bed under a window, which lacks the symbolic support and protection of a solid wall and can lead to fitful sleep as energy enters and exits through the window, David explains.
- Headboards, especially solid ones made from wood, are considered good feng shui because they provide additional strength and support behind your head. Footboards, on the other hand, are seen as blocking forward progress in life.
Whatever you do, make sure your feet don't point out the door while in bed. In traditional Chinese culture, this is called the "Death Position" because the deceased are carried out feet first. Practitioners believe sleeping this way can drain your life force. If you can't avoid it, use a footboard or a substantial trunk or other piece of furniture at the foot of your bed to act as a buffer (this is the one exception to feng shui's normal "no footboard" rule). Finally, leave enough room around the bed for energy to flow freely, and for each partner to get up with ease.
3. Opt for Curves, Not Corners
If you're in the market for a new bedside table or other bedroom furniture, try to choose pieces with soft lines and curvilinear forms. "Square corners have too much pointed energy and can create a 'sharp' environment," explains Jayme. The "poison arrows" formed by right angles are thought to direct negative energy directly at your sleeping form, which can cause a feeling of uneasiness, experts say. If a new nightstand isn't in the cards, you can soften its corners by draping a piece of flowing fabric over the top or placing a healthy plant on top, leaves cascading over the corners.
Lastly, Barrett says to limit what's on your nightstand to a lamp, a couple of inspirational books, a picture you love and a plant or fresh flowers, to create a "Zen" nightstand.
4. Clear the Clutter
From a feng shui perspective, clutter symbolizes unfinished business and impedes forward progress in life. So keep furnishings on the spare side and clutter as contained as possible to enable chi to flow freely around the room. Tip: Plants placed in corners are said to prevent energy from stagnating there. And don't use the space under your bed to store boxes of out-of-season clothes — doing so will block energy and lead to stagnation in life, feng shui experts warn.
What's more, "clutter under the bed has its own energy, which can disturb sleep — especially if it's work-related clutter," claims Jayme. The feng shui consultant was once hired by an insomniac dentist, whom she discovered stored her patients' X-rays under her bed. As soon as the X-rays were moved out, sleep returned, Barrett says.
Also consider what memories and associations the objects in your bedroom hold for you, and then get rid of anything (even the mattress) that you associate with a negative time in your life, a past health problem, or a former relationship. "That includes the bedside tables you bought with your ex, and even the heirloom furniture that generations of your family have hated," says Terah Kathryn Collins, author of The Western Guide to Feng Shui Room by Room and founder of the Western School of Feng Shui in Solana Beach, Calif.
"Less is more" also applies to the closet. According to experts, clutter behind closed doors can be just as depleting as clutter that's in the open. "If you feel irritated, confused and overwhelmed when you open the closet door, organizing your closet will help give you a sense of control over your life," says Terah. Ruthlessly weed out clothes that are unflattering, out-of-style or no longer worn, then sort by color and season. Install organizers to hold shoes, belts, scarves and other accessories, and move everything else choking your closet to another spot. Better yet, give it away!
5. Shut Out the World
The bedroom should be a place of rest, contemplation and intimacy — not work, exercise or blaring music. Exercise gear, a phone, a television or computer or a desk piled high with bills and paperwork give off and take up a lot of energy, feng shui practitioners say. They also distract you from rest and romance. "The bedroom is a place where you need to turn off the stresses of the day," says Jayme.
If your bedroom must do double-duty as a work or exercise space, use a lightweight folding screen or beautiful fabric hung from a ceiling-mounted curtain rod to conceal them. And while a few books on your nightstand are fine, if you have bookshelves groaning under the weight of dozens of tomes, move them elsewhere; all those titles calling out to be read distract your mind from rest. Turn off the ringer on the phone, too. And if you're not willing to part with the TV, keep it in an armoire or cabinet so that you can literally "shut the door" on it while you sleep. A nice piece of fabric draped over the set when you're not using it will serve a similar purpose.
6. Create a Space for Couples
One is indeed the loneliest number — even when it comes to bedroom furnishings and decor. "Having only one nightstand or space on only one side of the bed to climb in and out is very symbolic of solitude, and can actually hold your single status in place," says Terah. "Single people also tend to have accessories and art that depict solitude, [like] a single flower in a vase."
Instead, if you're single and don't want to be, "decorate your bedroom as if a partner is already there," Terah says. Symmetry is key, so position nightstands and lamps on both sides of the bed. Accessorize in pairs or multiples, too: Place a bunch of flowers in a vase and hang art depicting romance and unity, which feng shui gurus say creates a "couples' energy" as well as a sense of balance and abundance in the room.
In the feng shui "map" of the bedroom, called the bagua, the far right corner is the "love center." Whether you're single or coupled, consider building a "shrine to love" in that spot. Accessorize a table, dresser or shelf with a photo of you and your mate (or other art that depicts a happy couple), a pair of candles, a book of romantic poetry and a heart-shaped box. "It becomes an environmental affirmation of your relationship goals," Terah says. A thriving plant with rounded, not spiky, leaves is another nice addition. Silk plants or flowers are OK, according to feng shui practitioners, but never keep a sickly specimen or dried foliage here, since their symbolism is obvious.
Another feng shui no-no: king-sized beds. Not only do they create a physical chasm between you and your mate, but they "are split down the middle by two box springs, which creates a symbolic dividing line between partners that can affect their unity," David Daniel Kennedy, a feng shui teacher and consultant in Berkeley, Calif., and author of Feng Shui for Dummies explains. If you're not about to trade in your beloved California King, even for the sake of your other beloved, a red sheet placed over the box springs will help unify the two separate halves.
7. Open Your Eyes to Beauty
A common feng shui strategy is to choose art and other objects that depict things you'd like to see manifest in your life, whether success, love or inner peace. In the bedroom, practitioners suggest hanging your favorite piece of art on the wall opposite your bed. "The last thing you see before you go to sleep and the first thing you see when you open your eyes should be something that makes you feel joyful and inspired," explains Jayme. One type of art you don't want in the bedroom? Family photos. "You can have pictures of your parents and your kids all over the rest of the house, but the focus in the bedroom should be on yourself and your partner," Jayme says.
If your direct view from the bed is of an adjoining bathroom or a messy closet, screen those views with curtains, folding screens or simply by closing the door. Also, put down the toilet seat at night, lest the bedroom's energy go right down the drain.
Another thing not to place opposite, next to or over the bed (and definitely not on the ceiling, which is a crime against more than just feng shui) is a mirror. In addition to bouncing too much energy around the room to allow for good rest, these reflective surfaces are thought to magnify problems and worries — and some feng shui practitioners even say that mirrors in the bedroom can invite a third party to interfere in your relationship. If you have mirrored closet doors, "Treat them like windows and hang curtains in front of them," suggests Terah. Move other mirrors out of the room, face them away from the bed or drape them with a pretty piece of fabric when you turn in for the night.
8. Light It Right
When it comes to bedroom lighting, feng shui experts say that flexibility is key: You want lots of natural light during the day, soft light in the evening and darkness while you sleep. Aside from the positive energy it imparts, "Exposure to sunlight first thing in the morning influences serotonin levels and can affect you for the rest of the day," says David. So invest in window coverings that can easily be thrown open to greet the sun and pulled closed for privacy and a cocoon-like ambiance after nightfall.
When choosing sources for artificial light, make sure to provide illumination from a variety of them, including overhead, table and wall lights. Balance light directed downward (such as from recessed cans in the ceiling) with up-lit torchieres and sconces, "which cast a softer light and lift your energy," says Jayme. Finally, "Put all the lights in the bedroom on dimmers to that you can calm the energy of the space at night."
9. Create a Sensual Haven
In addition to creating a room that's beautiful to look at, take time to appeal to your other senses as well, by filling your bedroom with things you love to smell, touch, taste and hear. "Make the bedroom your sensory treasure box," says Terah.
- Light fragrant candles or use an essential-oil diffuser (lavender induces relaxation, and jasmine, rose, and geranium scents are associated with love).
- Invest in inviting linens — pure Egyptian cotton, smooth silk, soft velvet and cozy cashmere.
- Play relaxing music or nature sounds, or hang a wind chime outside your bedroom window to fill the space with soothing sounds.
- Treat yourself to a good glass of wine or a bowl of chocolate-dipped strawberries in bed, or awaken your mate with the delicious flavors of freshly brewed tea and warm, buttery croissants for two. It will do your chi — and your state of mind — a world of good.