Q&A Sunday: Feng Shui for a New Floor Plan

I’m looking for a second home and was wondering if you could give me a general idea of whether this layout would be accommodating for my husband and myself.

Diane R., Phoenix, AZ

Hi Diane,

Thanks for sending in your floor plan on this prospective home. I work with clients often when they are shopping for homes, so this is a good idea to check out the feng shui before you purchase. And yes, there are a few issues with this home, but all houses have problems.

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The feng shui I practice (BTB feng shui) is actually mostly remedial! If you really love this house, you can work with it. We very rarely tell someone that a house is bad for them, because our intention is not to define things as good or bad, but to figure out how to make things workable. So, how can we make this home work for you if you do purchase it? 

First, there may be some concern about the master bath being in the Abundance area. But again, it's doable! You can hang a mirror on the outside door of the bathroom to correct that.

I also see some issues with the garage, which is in the Relationship area. It looks like the garage is part of the bagua, since it’s under the same roof as the rest of the house. In this case, because the Relationship area is in the garage, it may indicate that you and/or your husband travel a lot, so there are things you can do in this room to create a bit more stability in your relationship. It's best to work with a feng shui consultant on this, however, even using earthy colors can be stabilizing.

My major concern here is that the Knowledge and Path in Life areas are missing. You can bring these areas back into the bagua energetically with landscaping or other feng shui cures.

I also note there is a lot of water (kitchen and guest bath) in Recognition. To work with this you could add plants or wood element (dark green, for example) to transform that water energy into fuel for the fire energy, which would balance water

Anyhow, if you keep looking for the perfect feng shui house...well, you might look forever! Sometimes we are attracted to homes that have some feng shui that corresponds to areas in our life we need to work on :)

If you're interested in this house, and you love it, I think it's feasible!

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: Beach Holidays and the Five Elements

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Hi Anjie. I would appreciate some Feng Shui tips for a beach holiday in terms of balancing the seaside environment, which seems to me water, earth (sand, pebbles) and fire (sun). I wondered if one should add the missing elements in order not to be too exhausted and overwhelmed.

Giuliana G., France

Hi Giuliana,

Thank you so much for always sending such wonderful questions! I previously answered this question on this blog post, but you sent me a follow-up and clarified that you were more curious about the five elements. A beach holiday can be at any time of year--a lot of times we go on beach holidays in the summer, but we often go during the winter as well because we want to go somewhere warm for a bit.

So what do we do to balance elements in a seaside environment? First, it’s really important to be in touch with what resonates with you. You can look at your Four Pillars or your Bazi, which is your Chinese astrology. You can see what your Day Master is, if it’s weak or strong, and what element you’re supported by. For instance, I’m a weak yin wood. Since my Day Master is wood, having water around me is really great. I’ve always lived near water; I grew up in Los Angeles, I lived in the San Francisco Bay Area, and I lived right on the water in New York City. Because water is really supportive for me, I don’t really need to balance things when I’m by the seaside.

If you don’t know anything about Four Pillars or Bazi, we have some information on the website about how to figure out your Nine Stars. If you look at the Nine Stars and you’re a wood element, for instance, it may mean that the seaside environment is supportive for you.

But what if you are not supported by water? That’s what it sounds like, because your question implies that you become exhausted, overwhelmed, or depleted near the seaside. That’s the main thing to pay attention to; you can look at numerology and astrology, but it’s important to see what you’re personally attracted to. For instance, as I mentioned, I’m always really drawn to the water, whereas my husband is more drawn to the forest and the country. For me, going to the country is neutral, and if I was going to the country, I’d want to be by a lake or another body of water. You usually know yourself, so if you close your eyes and think about your ideal vacation, that would be a good indication of what element you need. If being by the seaside makes you feel exhausted and overwhelmed, and your ideal vacation is in the country, that’s the number one indication that you may not need more water.

You mentioned that at the beach the main element is water, and you also mentioned earth (sand) and fire (sun), so what’s missing is metal and wood. Metal actually creates more water, so if you’re feeling depleted, metal isn’t the best thing to bring in. And if you think about it practically, metal gets hot very easily, so I would recommend you bring more wood into the situation. That could be as simple as carrying more wood-colored things around you. For instance, you could bring blue or green clothing, or a blue or green beach towel or bathing suit. You also see the color blue in the water, so it may be very comforting to look at the water if it’s not too bright. You can also bring the wood element into the place that you’re staying. The wood element is also living green plants, so you may want to bring those into the place where you are staying.

Hopefully this will help you for your seaside beach holiday at any time of year. Thank you so much!

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: 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 Career Growth and Direction

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I just wanted to say thank you for your amazing podcast! I am also still deciding which Feng Shui school works best for me but I love learning about Feng Shui and your podcast really taught me so much. My whole apartment is located directly above a laundromat. I'm interested in tapping into some good energies for mine and my boyfriend's careers. I need to figure out what direction I want to go in career-wise, and my boyfriend is hoping to grow his business. Thanks for all your help Anjie!

Amy A., Easthampton, MA

Hi Amy,

Thank you so much for listening to the podcast and for submitting your floor plan. Maybe one day we’ll start the podcast again! But I’ve had a busy year working on my book,  and launching Mindful Design Feng Shui School.

From your email, you’ve indicated that you and your boyfriend would like to have some feng shui advice on how to improve your careers. The boyfriend wishes to grow his business, and you would like some direction and clarity on your career in general.

Feng Shui for Career Growth Floor Plan.png

I appreciate the time and energy you spent on this floor plan, and even drawing it up on the computer! Everything is part of the story for you, including the appearance of this floor plan. My first observation was that that you’ve drawn this with a very thick black boundary. In fact the boundary is even thicker at the front door, and I had to spend some time to even find the front door on the plan. Of course all of this relates to your careers. This tells me that there may be some blocks in how business and career opportunities find you. You and your boyfriend can make a bit more effort to put yourself out in the world more. It can be literally getting out of the house more, as well as opening your mind up as well. 

It's interesting that you live above a laundromat. A few things come to mind...living above a lot of things spinning around in circles. And also people coming in to clean their "dirty laundry" and coming out fresh and clean! Finally, the ritual of cleaning. So maybe in your life, you spin things around a few times, but end up with freshness and new beginnings!

A little more on the entry, since the entry and this large block is in the Benefactors area, I think that it would be beneficial to look for helpful people and to travel outside of your comfort zone. Are there mentors you can work with? Are there friends or colleagues that you can reach out to for support? Be sure the entry is clean, uncluttered, and bright. If you need to, add some lighting, or a brighter light bulb. Make sure the outside of your door is clean, and your house number is clear and easy to see. 

The entry is super important to career. It’s how the world finds and sees you. 

For your boyfriend, he would like some growth in his business, so I would recommend a green plant in the Recognition area of your home, which is in the living room where the table is. Near the table by the window would be a perfect spot for a new healthy green plant or tree. I’ve been loving fig trees lately like this one. The leaves are so lush and soft. The wood element can support and enhance the fame and recognition he needs to see growth.

If you want to have some more clarity and direction, keep your windows clean and clear. Even if they’re clean right now, clean them again! The windows symbolize the eyes of the inhabitants of the home. Keep your eyes open and clear so you can start to see what’s the best direction for you. So you can begin to notice the messages from the universe to direct you towards your life path.

Finally, the both of you can attract more helpful people and benefactors, which is in that entry area. Besides the suggestions above, you can also ring a bell like these to activate the benefactors area. The sound and vibrations will spread out so that helpful people will come to your support. It’s even more powerful if you can do this every day between 11am and 1pm for 27 days in a row! 

by Anjie Cho

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.

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: Five Common Feng Shui Mistakes

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What are five common mistakes people make with feng shui?

Jacqueline R., Cleveland, OH

1.  There are mistakes in feng shui! 

I would not necessarily call these mistakes, but rather misinterpretations of feng shui. And sometimes the misinterpretations lead you to what you really needed! My point is: everything you do is right and correct if you do it with the best intentions. But this is a great question, because I always like to share with my clients the meaning and reason for the feng shui concept. If possible, we should strive to do things in the proper way. But mistakes happen and sometimes for a good reason!

2.  Feng shui is simply about moving furniture around

Feng shui is not just about moving furniture around! It’s about creating harmony in our lives by unifying our inner and outer environments. The inner and outer are not separate, because everything that we do to our spaces – positive and negative – affects our daily experience. In BTB feng shui we incorporate many personal chi adjustments (meditations and rituals to change your personal energy), adjusting objects to your space (such as adding plants, mirrors, or crystals), in addition to re-arranging your furniture.

3.  Using items made out of wood for the wood element

The wood element is about new beginnings, family and kindness in feng shui. Sometimes people misinterpret wood as the dead material of wood, like a wood desk. But in fact, objects made of wood do not embody the wood element. To add wood element you can add green plants or objects that are green/teal or tall and expansive. Brown wood objects are actually earth element!

4.  Fountains flowing wealth away from the home

Fountains can be used as feng shui adjustments to bring more wealth into the home. The best way to do this is to position the fountain so that the water flows into the home, rather than right out the door. So just turn that fountain around.

5.  What direction your door faces is very important

In BTB feng shui, it is not critical if your door faces north, south, east or west. We look at the relationship of the space to the formal entry to the room, home or property. We call this the “mouth of chi,” where the energy comes into the space. There are other schools of feng shui that use the compass directions. The other schools are as valid and equal to BTB feng shui. But the feng shui I practice does not follow this particular discipline. We care more about where the energy enters the environment, and how to look at the flow of chi. 

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!

Q&A Sunday: Are Fake Plants Good Feng Shui?


Are fake plants good feng shui?

DeeJay A., Brooklyn, NY

Hi DeeJay, thanks for your question!

Green plants are used for many feng shui adjustments. They represent growth and new beginning and cultivate human kindness and compassion. They are related to the wood element and the area of New Beginnings on the feng shui bagua map.

While it is preferable to use living green plants for feng shui applications, my teachers have taught me that faux green plants are also acceptable. The faux plants should be of high quality and as realistic as possible. It is fairly easy now to find good looking fake plants. I believe it is much better to have a realistic fake plant over a dying real one. There are often locations where a plant could improve the feng shui of a space, however the natural light is lacking. In this case, I think it is good feng shui to use a fake plant.

On the other hand, a friend recently asked me about getting some colored orbs for her kitchen. She wanted to know what color was better feng shui-wise. We discussed her intentions, and then I suggested real fruit rather than orbs. She said it was too much of a hassle because fruit spoils and needs frequent replacement. That seems very practical, but you can also be mindful that if the intention for the colored orbs is to add more growth and wood element for example, then it would be all the more powerful to use something like real fruit that needs refreshing. The attention and care involved in replenishing fresh fruit, or caring for a living green plant, cultivates the desired qualities and only strengthens the intention and effects of the feng shui adjustment.

That said, a fake plant is okay for low light locations or for seriously black thumbs. But, there is something to gain from the care and nurturing you give to a living green plant that makes your feng shui adjustment more effective.

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!

The One Room Where You Shouldn't Keep Tons of Plants, According to Feng Shui

featured this week on MindBodyGreen by Emma Loewe

image credit: Sophia Hsin via  MindBodyGreen

image credit: Sophia Hsin via MindBodyGreen

Who doesn't love a good houseplant? With their toxin-bustinghappiness-inducing properties, plants are an amazing vehicle for ushering some of nature's healing power indoors. And these days, it seems like the more you have, the better. Instagram's most enviable homes feature rooms draped in greenery, and some of the world's most influential offices (Amazon, anyone?) are transforming into urban jungles.

But one design philosophy is saying not so fast. Here, leading feng shui experts explain why the bedroom may not be the best place for all of your plant pals:

But if you already have them, it's totally OK.

If you have a bedroom full of plants and sleep like a baby, you don't need to change a thing. Most feng shui pros, including Maureen Calamia of Luminous Spaces, agree that, depending on the room, a few plants can be beneficial, especially when placed in the wealth corner to promote green of another kind.

Architect and feng shui expert Anjie Cho adds that some schools of feng shui, like the more Western BTB philosophy, think that woodsy elements in the bedroom can actually help some people thrive. "The wood element adds qualities like flexibility, kindness, growth, and healing into your life," she says. "For a very lethargic or depressed person, it may even be good to have some uplifting energy to raise your chi. I personally have plants in my bedroom and found that they brighten and perk up the space."

...read full article

Power Houseplants: Peace Lily

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So far, we've gotten to know the Golden Pothos and the Dracaena, also known as Janet Craig, both of which are incredible additions to any holistic space. But what if you prefer flowering plants? Good news! Fourteen of the 50 top plants for homes and indoor spaces include flowers! The most helpful of these options is the Peace Lily, part of the Top 10 list of purifying plants. 

The Peace Lily is one of my favorite plants and is actually something of a superstar in the world of indoor plants. Only a few plants meet or exceed the Peace Lily's ability to remove VOCs from indoor air and improve air quality through transpiration, and it is noted as one of the only plants that will reliably bloom indoors. In fact, Dr. B.C. Wolverton touts the Peace Lily as a plant that "should always be included when seeking a variety of indoor plants." 

The Peace Lily features sturdy stalks and white flowers which can even be trimmed to avoid pollen, if allergies are an issue. As with many houseplants, there are a number of varieties, including the Cleavelandii and the Mauna Loa, which can reach two and three feet, respectively. It is worth noting that the Peace Lily is poisonous to humans and animals if ingested, so it's important to take care if you have pets or children! If you can place the plant out of reach, do so. If you are not confident your pets will leave the Peace Lily alone, take a look at some of our other favorites here

This plant is relatively easy to care for and resistant to insects, so as long as you can commit to regular watering and a little light, a Peace Lily is the way to go! 

To Grow Successfully:

- Place your plant in semi-sun or semi-shade. Not too much of either!
- Maintain a daytime temperature of 60 - 75 degrees and a night temperature of 55 - 68. 
- Keep the soil evenly moist and wash leaves occasionally to ward off insects. 
- Hold off a bit on the watering during winter!

Is there somewhere in your home or office you can add a Peace Lily for a little Wood element, healing and fresh air?

by Anjie Cho

Power Houseplants: The Golden Pothos

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Adding plants to your space is one of the easiest, most common feng shui adjustments. Plants of all types can be added for many reasons, whether it be to bring more Wood element into a home, provide a healing atmosphere, welcome prosperity, improve air quality or more. There are thousands of types of houseplants and indoor trees, but some are more symbolic than others, and some are more effective at accomplishing certain goals.

The Golden Pothos is one of the most popular of all houseplants and is easily a great choice. I recently mentioned Dr. B.C. Wolverton's book, How to Grow Fresh Airand the Golden Pothos is one of the top 50% in his list of houseplants for purifying air. Not only does it remove a large amount of chemicals and vapors due to its high transpiration rate, it is also very resistant to insects and is arguably the easiest plant to grow and maintain. 

This plant is actually a vine, with heart-shaped leaves that range in color from golden (thus the name) to lush green and maintain color even when low on sunlight. Though the Golden Pothos is a vine and can be trained to climb, it is often grown in hanging pots (like this one) and can actually be cultivated in almost any potting medium. It's a great plant for cuttings, as these take root easily in water, and overall, it's an ideal houseplant for beginners or those with forgetful watering tendencies. I have a Golden Pothos I was given when I moved to the city over a decade ago! It's survived through basement apartments, cold winters and much more. 

To Grow Successfully:

- Maintain temperatures between 65 - 75 degrees, and do not let it get cooler than 50 degrees.
- Let the soil dry slightly between watering.
- If possible, feed your plant weekly during its growing season.
- Clean the leaves occasionally with a damp cloth. 

Keep an eye on the blog, as I'll be sharing some of the best options for houseplants, one by one!

by Anjie Cho