Q&A Sunday: Kids Study Spaces and Where to Begin with Feng Shui

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I like your blog, it is so inspiring. I am new to feng shui and have 3 questions:
1. Is/are there any effective, specific knowledge/ items which help(s) kids to manage themselves to study or encourage(s) doing homework? I am a Tiger mum and have a Pig boy (June 3, 2007) and a Rabbit daughter (May 29, 2011). Based on this info, I would appreciate any recommendation. 
2. I want to practice feng shui. Where should I start ?
3. Do you ship outside the USA?

Oznur R., Turkey

Dear Oznur,

Thank you for your question and compliments, and welcome to the wonderful world of feng shui!

It’s awesome that you have so many questions; it means you’re really interested and curious. In feng shui, you’re encouraged to inquire, test and scrutinize the teachings. 

Your first question pertains to supporting children in their studies and education. In general, it’s recommended that when your son and daughter are doing their homework, they have a desk or a dedicated area to do their work. An area of the dining table is fine, as long as it’s clear and spacious, and accommodates them. When it is time for them to study, have this space become a real desk. It’s also important to locate them in the commanding position of the room, whether at a desk or another study area. This means that they can both see the entrance of the space, without turning their heads, but are not in line with the door. The best location is diagonal from the door. This way your children are in a relaxed place in their space so they can clearly focus on homework. There’s more information about the commanding position here, here and here.

You’re also a Tiger mother, and your son is a Pig. This tells me that you have a good, compatible relationship to begin with. Tiger and Pig are best friends and ideal companions. Your daughter is a Rabbit, so your relationship to her is neutral. But your Pig boy and Rabbit daughter also get along well, because they form a harmonious relationship (along with the Ram). By the way, be sure to check out our post where Beth Grace shares the forecast for each Chinese Zodiac animal this year.  

Your second question is about how to start studying and practicing feng shui. Well I have an exciting announcement! I’m starting a Mindful Design teaching program with my talented friend, Laura Morris. The program is set to launch in the fall of 2018, so keep an eye out! We're excited to teach feng shui from our shared Mindful Design perspective.

Last but not least, yes we do ship to Turkey for most items! You can email us at info@holisticspaces.com if you have any specific questions about that! Be sure to check out our new apothecary items… I think the Focus mist might be perfect for your little ones! 

by Anjie Cho


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!


Holistic Spaces Podcast, Episode 050: Kid-Smart Spaces with Magalie René-Hayes

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TUNE IN SEPTEMBER 25 FOR THE NEXT HOLISTIC SPACES PODCAST


BE SURE TO ALSO LISTEN IN OCTOBER 1 FOR OUR EIGHTH EPISODE OF THE MINI-SERIES, ASTROLOGY & FENG SHUI!

5 Easy Ways to Maximize the Space in Kids’ Rooms

featured on DailyParent, by Andrea Williams

Whether you have one kid or 12, there never seems to be enough space in your home, right? From random flip flops and baseball cleats, to missing board games pieces and runaway Legos, we can never seem to escape the constant flow of stuff. And this is especially true in children’s bedrooms, where square footage is at a premium and there is often more than one kid sharing the space. Taming kid clutter and maximizing children’s rooms are no easy tasks, but, here, we’ve gathered the best tips from design experts to help you regain control of your home.

Create a floor plan with distinct spaces/zones.

“Zones are important because they help to define a space, which is especially helpful if a space has to pull ‘double duty,’” says Hobbs. “This technique works well in small places because it helps to define a room and ensure there is a home for various activities.”

Additionally, says feng shui and green design expert Anjie Cho, intentionally dividing a floor plan can make it easier for siblings to share a small room. “A recent client had two siblings—a boy and a girl—sharing a room,” Cho explains. “They had bunkbeds, but it really was not going to work anymore as both children were starting to get older. [To divide the room], we put in sliding doors that acted as a wall but could be opened and still let in light and air/ventilation.”

...read full article

by Anjie Cho


Creating Kid-Smart Spaces with Magalie René-Hayes

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AC: “The places children learn in shape them, and help them shape the world. Space, light and movement are integral to wellness and success. Every child deserves beauty and inspiration in their daily life.” Tell us more about this statement and how someone can integrate this into their home for their children.

MRH: We’re an amalgam of the experiences we’ve had and the environments we’ve encountered along our journey. We contribute that energy, who we are, to the world every day (whether we’re conscious of it or not). I believe we, as adult guides, have a responsibility to provide inspiring, healthy, stimulating, and even beautiful learning environments so our children can discover their personal skills and gifts. The gifts they’ll eventually contribute to the world in hopefully positive, meaningful ways. 

After several years creating what I’ve termed Kid-Smart Spaces for elementary and middle schools, I’ve learned academic achievement is directly linked to supportive physical environments. Integrating this into your home means being thoughtful and deliberate in creating your child’s spaces, especially where learning is involved.  

What are some important things parents should consider in designing and decorating their desk/homework area?

  • Kids are like us.

If you think about it, kids react to many of the same stimuli we do.  If you had to work in a small space with bright red walls, only had one foot of desk space to work on because of messy, scattered papers or if your desk faced a window with a great view might you feel anxious, frazzled or distracted? When you’re designing their play and study spaces, put yourself in their shoes. 

  • Beware of overstimulation.

As adults we often get stuck thinking kids' spaces need to be bright and stimulating.  Certainly areas of play can be high energy, but beware of overstimulation.  Mental, process-oriented tasks require balanced spaces that are conducive to processing information and thinking creatively.  Think through what kinds of activities your child will be doing and decide whether certain design elements might be counter-productive to the task at hand.

  • Consider the “5 C’s”.

1. Color

There’s a lot of conflicting information on which colors affect mood and in what ways. In an educational environment, bold, bright colors can be distracting and overly pale colors can cause sleepiness. Blues and greens have long been said to support focus and concentration, but I approve most colors. My recommendation is to find balance by using lighter shades on walls. For instance, instead of purple consider a lavender or grey/purple like Benjamin Moore’s Sanctuary. Instead of orange consider peach. Instead of red, consider a mauve or softer pinks. Use pops of bolder colors to accent the space through wall art, lamps, seat cushions, desk accessories, rugs, etc. 

I have only one color caveat: I don’t recommend red for study spaces (psychologists have found it can raise blood pressure, heart rate and cause anxiety). If you really love it, remember to use it sparingly as only an accent. 

(If you’re creating an art space, keep to neutrals because walls are a light source - either emitted or reflected - so the colors of a space influences the perceptions of the colors your child may be working with. Gray is the most neutral color for artists. And don’t worry - it doesn’t have to be drab. There are some beautiful greys out there).

I loved Anjie’s fantastic post discussing the Feng Shui properties of various colors. It’s a wonderful resource that can help you decide which direction to take.  

2. Climate 

This one’s a no-brainer. To use our skills of analysis and concentration, it helps to be comfortable. I don’t know about you but it’s near impossible for me to concentrate when my office is freezing cold or sweltering hot. Avoid setting study spaces up too close to windows or HVAC (heating ventilation air conditioning) systems. Also, it’s very important to be mindful of air-flow. Open windows at some point every day to let fresh air in. It’s energizing, it’s good feng shui, and it minimizes indoor air pollution and germs that impair wellness.

3. Clutter

Neuroscientists at Princeton did a study on clutter and found that when parents dealt with their own belongings, their stress hormones spike.  Children suffer doubly, first as they fight their own battle to focus in a cluttered environment, and again when the parent they depend on for direction and guidance is short-fused or under-performing due to clutter and overwhelm. It’s especially important to keep study spaces neat and organized.

4. Creativity

An educational space in your home doesn’t have to be all about studying.  Certainly it should accommodate more serious tasks like homework and papers but it should also inspire wonder, engagement, and fun. A great way to infuse fun into a space is through multi-functional, modular, moveable furniture. Toy storage that doubles as a reading seat or maybe it’s on wheels so it rolls out to the middle of the room when toys are used. Yoga balls are also on the rise for student use. Or, try mixing it up. Maybe they sit in a chair when completing a school assignment but switch to the beanbag when it’s time to read.  Add a sense of play with fun desk accessories - throw in a Rubik's cube to strengthen problem solving and creative thinking. There are so many creative ideas out there. Your inner child probably has a few in mind!

5. Child-Centric

Make them a part of the design process for 2 reasons. 1. When given the opportunity, kids have a ton to contribute.  2. Meaningful participation gives them a sense of ownership over their domain, connecting them to it and making them happier to be there.  Some ways to involve your child:

  • Let them pick certain decor elements (lamp/ desk supplies/ wall art) that reflects their interests, passions, and identities. 
  • Let them make the final decision between your top 2 paint choices.
  • Let them choose the accent colors.

How do you create your own holistic space at home?

My home is both my physical and emotional safe space. I have several rituals, but one I particularly love and do every day when I shower is I run the hot water for a few seconds and toss in a few drops of essential oil. They rise with the steam and make the bathroom (and that entire side of the house actually) smell like a spa. I use peppermint and orange oil in the morning to get energized, and lavender and eucalyptus at night to soothe. Design-wise, I have a connection to every piece of art or decor in my space. It must evoke positive feelings or it goes.  Which leads me to my last point...I’m an avid believer in the Feng Shui practice of channeling energy flow through de-cluttering. For those who have a tough time with this, Anjie can help you break through in big ways. I also recommend a book that taught me how little the stuff we keep is actually about the stuff itself! Throw Out 50 Things changed my home storage life forever. 

by Anjie Cho


Magalie René-Hayes is a Social Entrepreneur, Interior Designer, and Founder of FOUNDATIONS Design Group. She helps administrators, teachers, and parents create Kid-Smart Spaces™ that support academic excellence. As a result, hundreds of students have been impacted by inspiring physical nvironments that support them in discovering the gifts they will use to make meaningful contributions to the world.  Magalie has worked on a variety of residential, commercial, and institutional projects in the New York Tri-State area and Los Angeles.  She speaks on a variety of topics including personal growth, career transition, and creating “Kid-Smart Spaces” at school and in the home.