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!


Feng Shui for the New Year

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Happy New Year! We’re excited to come back from our much-needed break and get 2019 started. Over the years, we’ve shared a number of ways to begin the new year on a positive note through feng shui. We’ve compiled all our best tips into this year’s New Year’s post and are looking forward to sharing even more in the coming months. Set intentions, get a little clarity, clear your space, embrace a color…there are so many ways to use feng shui for new beginnings! Take a look below, get started, and we’ll be back on Sunday!


If you’d like to learn more about feng shui check out the Mindful Design Feng Shui certification program. Laura Morris and I launched our program in September 2018. 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.


Q&A Sunday: Feng Shui and Mindfulness in Art

I wanted to send a picture that I have hanging in my bedroom to get your opinion of the Feng Shui as you suggested in one of your posts. The  online form did not allow me to input it. I hope this is ok! Thanks!

Lucretia B., Austin, TX

Hi Lucretia,

Thanks for your email and for sending in your question. This is a lovely piece of art. May I assume that it’s one that you care for, since you’ve not only hung it in your bedroom, but you’ve also taken the time to ask me about it? Take a moment to touch into how you feel about this artwork. Where did it come from? What do you sense from it? How does it feel in your body when you gaze upon it?

It still surprises me that sometimes I receive questions about feng shui and art where the asker has a neutral position on the piece. Sometimes they can take it or leave it. I think we have the tendency to try to fill up space and just put something up ‘just because’. Often they have no idea why they wanted to put it up in the first place, besides that there was a empty space they wanted filled.

Sound familiar? We do the same with food, television, any sort of entertainment so we don’t feel the empty, bored, sad...etc. It’s not ‘bad’; however it’s interesting to notice this and see that if it comes from mindless conditioning. Is this coming from a helpful place? This is true mindfulness, contemplation and paying attention to the details even for a few moments.

I also encourage my clients to wait for the art that they love. You don’t need to rush and hurry to finish up your home. In fact, it’s kind of fun to have your eye open for something that you love. Alternatively you can find something to put up that’s not perfect but is trendy and fun for now, without a lot of investment. Or...why not just keep the space open?!

There is, of course, also the aspect of the location of this art. In your case, this art is up in your bedroom. If you’re a single woman ready and actively desiring a relationship with a partner, this isn’t exactly the best imagery. But the colors are soothing; the cool hues are okay for a bedroom otherwise. The angles are rather metal-like, so precise and orthogonal. And it can certainly go in another area of your home.

Be sure to check out our other posts about art!

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!