9 Cliché Decorating Rules We Should All Start Breaking

While some decorating rules of thumb are definitely worth paying attention to—think: "Decorate rooms one at a time" or "Always design rooms around furniture"—others are made to be broken. To prove our point, we asked a few of our favorite designers which old-school decorating clichés they believe should be ignored, and their responses didn't disappoint. Read ahead for nine decorating clichés our experts say you should avoid following.

1. The Rule of Threes

"There's this very cliché rumor that if you do a pop of color in a room it should appear in three different places, which is just such a funny thing to suggest! I never think a room should be that contrived. Accents are great when they are unique." —Alyssa Kapito, Alyssa Kapito Interiors

2. There's No Room for Experimentation

"It's not necessary to match every single item in one room. In fact, we always mix it up. Many people fall into the habit of matching the artwork with the couch and the rug and even an accent piece such as a throw pillow. Experiment by incorporating different patterns and colors that go well together in order to add character. We like to mix vintage with new and love texture." —Caroline Grant and Dolores Suarez, Dekar Design

3. All White Walls are Boring

"I think that people tend to think that white walls are boring, but personally, I love white walls. There are many shades of white, one for every taste. White paint brightens and expands spaces visually, and it's a blank canvas that can inspire you to engage and play with more daring colors in your accessories (which are easier to change)." —Anjie Cho

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Q&A Sunday: Colors and Elemental Energy in Feng Shui

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Hi, I’m redecorating. I’m doing two walls green and the other two walls grey. The colours are called jade jewel and subtle stone. Do the colours green for wood and grey for metal still stand or can I count them as earth colours, as they represent wonderful shades of crystals/stone? (in the context of the bagua). Am I making sense? Thanks in advance. PS I like crystals ;)

Thomas C.

Hi Thomas,

Thanks for your question. You submitted this on our feng shui Facebook group: Your Feng Shui Journey. I encourage any other readers who would like to join. Your Feng Shui Journey is managed by my partner, Laura Morris, and I, as an extension of the Mindful Design Feng Shui School. Thomas, you asked about colors and how they relate to the five elements, or if the specific shades you’re using are connected. This is actually a really good question, so thanks for asking!

Colors are an important part of feng shui, because people are very visual, so color is something we notice immediately. There is a quote I like on color from His Holiness Master Lin Yun, who started BTB feng shui:

“How does color influence our life-world? First, color defines for us what exists and what does not exist. Second, color discloses the status of one's health and fortunes... Third, color inspires emotion.”

Colors are one of the most powerful ways to work with your feng shui. There are lot of ways to look at color, and you’ve touched upon two of them here. One is the relationship to the five elements, and another is your personal relationship to colors, for example your reference to the crystals and stones you love. Your own personal conditioning is important, as are cultural associations and the relation of certain colors to nature. So to answer your question, you can use the colors in the way that makes the most sense for you. If you want to use them based on the five elements, you are correct that the color green is related to Wood and the color grey is related to Metal. If you want to associate the colors with the meanings of the crystals and stones, that’s possible too! However, in feng shui, we would not use the colors you mentioned to represent the Earth element. In the five element system, Earth colors are brown, orange, yellow and other colors that would be considered “earthy.”

If you want to think of the shades you’ve chosen as colors that you love, of course go ahead and use them with this connotation! I would not recommend using them to represent the Earth element, however, because they don’t in our system. You want to make sure to keep the element systems straight.

I’d also like to share something a teacher of mine always said. When clients asked him what color to paint their walls, his first question was “Well, what color do you like?”. The most important thing here is to use colors you love and follow your heart and intuition. From there, if you want to follow a system like the five elements, aim to do so with precision and not muddle the colors.

by Anjie Cho


Mindful Design is a new way to learn feng shui. Our a unique training program takes an holistic approach to learning the art of feng shui design. Mindful design is about becoming aware, and attentive, to the energy around you: both inner and outer qi. It is about promoting a better way of living and creating sacred spaces that support, and nourish. Visit us at mindfuldesignschool.com.


Thanks for reading our "Q&A Sunday".  We will be answering questions submitted by our readers. Click here to submit any Feng Shui or Green Design questions!


Q&A Sunday: Feng Shui for a White Screen Door

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My landlord has installed a screen door with a white plastic frame on my front door that faces northeast. I have painted the main door and the door frame burgundy but wonder if the white screen door is blocking the energy flow.

Clifton S., Austin, TX

Hi Clifton,

Thank you so much for your submission to Q&A Sundays on the Holistic Spaces blog. We get a lot of questions about front doors, and the first thing I want to address is the part of the question that relates to the detail that your front door faces northeast.

There are dozens and dozens of different schools of feng shui. The one that I practice is called BTB Feng Shui. In BTB feng shui, we actually look at the direction of the front door in relationship to the flow of qi in your environment, so we don’t consider the cardinal directions in adjustments. So I can’t really comment on the direction and color of your door in this sense.

With regard to the rest of the question, you have a burgundy front door, your landlord has recently installed a white screen door, and it seems your concern is that the screen door is blocking the energy flow. My gut feeling is that this isn’t an issue. The screen door is there for a mundane reason, and actually using the door is more important from the BTB perspective. So be sure to use your front door!

In terms of the front door, you ideally want it located so that visitors and qi can easily find the entrance. Nothing physical blocking it. Burgundy is also a nice color, especially if it matches the exterior of the home. Burgundy is a dark red, and red is a very auspicious color in feng shui. With regard to the white screen door, I don’t see a problem, but there may be something about it visually that concerns you. I’m not sure whether your question is about white and burgundy specifically, but if your concern is that the color white may be an issue, I would say no. I also don’t feel the screen door will block the flow of qi. Other matters, like the location of your door in relationship to the street, whether it’s easily found and has a clear path, and what you want to achieve in your life, are more important here.

If you are retired and want some quiet time, it’s acceptable if the door isn’t quite as visible from the street. However, if you’re younger and want to welcome more opportunity, you’ll want your door to be easily seen. Additionally, it’s important the door doesn’t squeak, works well and doesn’t get stuck. Again, the screen door shouldn’t be a problem, and I see no issues with the colors burgundy and white. Of course, it would be helpful to see a photograph of the entire context, since this is an isolated question. It’s always helpful to learn more about the situation! You might also take a look at some of these posts around feng shui and the front door.

by Anjie Cho


If you’d like to learn more about feng shui check out the Mindful Design feng shui cerfication program. Laura Morris and I launched our program in September 2018. Check us out at www.mindfuldesignschool.com

Mindful Design is a new way to learn feng shui. Our a unique training program takes an holistic approach to learning the art of feng shui design. Mindful design is about becoming aware, and attentive, to the energy around you: both inner and outer qi. It is about promoting a better way of living and creating sacred spaces that support, and nourish.


Thanks for reading our "Q&A Sunday".  We will be answering questions submitted by our readers. Click here to submit any Feng Shui or Green Design questions!


Q&A Sunday: What Should I Put on the Wall by My Bed to Attract Love?

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What should I put on that wall by my bed? And I wouldn’t mind working on my love life!

Stephen, Brooklyn, NY

Hi Stephen,

Thanks for your question and the cute floor plan! Love the colors! Sometimes people are surprised to hear that even the execution of the floor plan can give me some content for the person’s Feng Shui.

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I’m not surprised you’d like to focus on love, because pink tones are associated with the Relationship area, and the grey is related to Completion and Joy. Maybe you’d like some more joy in your love life? And maybe some things need to end to make room for new love. I laid the feng shui bagua map on your bedroom plan, and two things stick out. The bed is the first.

The bed would ideally be rotated so the headboard along the wall that says “10 ft”. This puts you in the commanding position. But from your dimensions I see that you might not have enough room. If you can, I would advise it. If you can’t, the ideal thing to place on the wall next to the bed would be a mirror. It’s always a good idea to have space available on both sides of the bed. Even just a few inches will help. In regards to relationships, when you have that bed up next to the wall, there’s no space for a partner to come into your life. It’s important to have a space that is equal (or in your case, as big as you can make it), to attract an equal and balanced partner into your life. 

As far as what to put up on the wall in the bedroom, as I mentioned before, a mirror would be best if you can’t change the orientation of your bed. By placing a mirror on the side of the bed that’s up next to the wall, you can energetically and visually create that space. And since your bed is not in command, you can also place a mirror somewhere in the room so that you can see the door reflected in it when you’re in bed. By having the back of your head facing the entry, you’re not in command. This puts you at a disadvantage in many ways…one of which is that you may not be able to truly see all the possibilities for love clearly.

The second thing I noticed was that in your Relationship area you have your hamper! Yes, I know the hamper has to go somewhere, but maybe if you’re looking for a partnership, it’s better in a different bagua area! It may imply that you have old stinky laundry that’s keeping you from finding a partner! If it must be in that area, just be mindful to do your laundry regularly and not let it pile up. But if possible, best to move it anywhere else for now.

Finally, the last suggestion circles back to the colors pink and peach. In BTB feng shui, we have something called “peach blossom luck” which helps you to attract a partner. You can paint one or all of your walls pink or peach. But even pink or peach linens or pillows or other accessories will work. Find a large canvas at the art store and paint it a lovely shade of peach. It’s even effective to wear pink and peach.

Let us know how it goes! 

by Anjie Cho


If you’d like to learn more about feng shui check out the Mindful Design feng shui cerfication program. Laura Morris and I launched our program in September 2018. Check us out at www.mindfuldesignschool.com

Mindful Design is a new way to learn feng shui. Our a unique training program takes an holistic approach to learning the art of feng shui design. Mindful design is about becoming aware, and attentive, to the energy around you: both inner and outer qi. It is about promoting a better way of living and creating sacred spaces that support, and nourish.


Thanks for reading our "Q&A Sunday".  We will be answering questions submitted by our readers. Click here to submit any Feng Shui or Green Design questions!


Mindful Design Feng Shui: Feng Shui Paint Colors

Listen in as Laura Morris and I talk about how we pick paint colors, which ones are our favorites and why.


If you’d like to learn more about feng shui check out the Mindful Design Feng Shui certification program. Laura Morris and I are launching our program in September 2018. We have a free webinar “Five Feng Shui Tools Revealed: Must-Do Business Boosters for Soulpreneurs and Wellness Practitioners” coming up, too! To get on the list about it, sign up at: www.mindfuldesignschool.com.

Mindful Design is a new way to learn feng shui. Our unique training program takes an holistic approach to learning the art of feng shui design. Mindful design is about becoming aware, and attentive, to the energy around you: both inner and outer qi. It is about promoting a better way of living and creating sacred spaces that support, and nourish.