Feng Shui and Color for Spring on The Home Discovery Show

last week on the Home Discovery Show

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How can feng shui and changing colors help you adjust to each season? What effect do you have on your environment? The Home Discovery Show's Ian Power and I talk color, lighting and what it means for newly budding spring. Check it out! 

Interview Transcript:

IP: Home Discovery Show is on the Corus Radio Network. My name is Ian Power. I want to bring in Anjie Cho, a holistic interior architect and author, sought after expert in the fields of Feng Shui and Green Design. A registered architect and certified Feng Shui practitioner, Anjie creates beautiful spaces throughout New York and beyond. The entire world is yours Anjie. Nice to have you on with us again.

AC: Hi Ian, so nice to be back.

Your book is already a best seller. Congratulations. That’s quite an accomplishment! That also tells us that there’s a huge interest in the things that you do and you talk about. Your book is 108 Ways to Create Holistic Spaces: Feng Shui and Green Design for Healing and Organic Homes. Just a quick overview on your book.

Well, my book is 108 tips in which you can incorporate Feng Shui and Green Design principles in your home. Simple things like what colors mean and what they symbolize or how can you save water in your bathroom, just small little digestible bits that are easy to implement so you really have no excuse not to do it.

Excellent. What’s happening in New York right now? You’re in New York. Is it snowing, raining, slitting?

It is getting a little bit warmer. It’s still pretty cold. It’s 40 degrees; I don’t know what that is in Celsius, but the snow is gone. It did snowed on the equinox though, which was a couple of days ago.

Well, here we’ve been in full on spring mode for at least a couple of weeks and last time we spoke, we wanted to get you back during spring to talk about color, because I know that’s really important. What is the relationship between spring, color, Feng Shui and how it relates to interior design? Can you talk about that a little bit?

Sure, of course. Humans are very visual. We’re very visual people, so color is a really great and easy way to change the feeling of your home and to change the mood in your home. So you could either do that with paint or adding accents, and spring is a great time to kind of refresh things. Spring is about new beginning and starting anew, so great spring color is green. Greens are really healing and they represent growth, and blues are also similar to greens. Blues and greens are both very comforting and they’re healing, because they actually remind us of the natural world, and the wavelengths are actually shorter, so in a physical way, it’s more comforting to our eyes.

That’s interesting. When you say blue, most people, when you just say the word “blue,” they think of the “blues” and they also think that blue, the color, is a little bit colder.

Well, it really depends on what shade of blue of course, right? So grayer blues can be cooler and maybe more depressing, and if you have that thought when you think of the color blue, then definitely go for green which is more hopeful. But we’re also talking about summer too, which will soon be around the corner, and as it gets warmer, that’s when, actually, blue is really good because it is cooling, and the color blue actually helps to cool down your spaces.

Okay. I’m thinking now, I don’t want to paint every season, obviously, so will these colors still work in the winter time when that rolls around eventually?

Absolutely. And besides painting the walls, you can add accents into your home through plants or pillows or rugs. Pillows, you can easily change up and plants are green all the time, but green is actually great for all year round because plants reminds us of the seasons, because they usually reflect what’s happening. Indoor plants like a little bit darker green in the colder months and they might start to flower in the spring and summer months, and that reminds us of the change of season.

Does Feng Shui play into the colors or the colors into Feng Shui? How does one relate to the other?

Feng Shui looks a lot at color and so, again, the colors, for instance green and blue, are very comforting and expansive, and they also represent the wood element. When you think of the wood element, you think of a plant, a plant that’s growing and expanding and growing from a small seed and growing in to huge redwood tree. You think about that growth and going from that energetic little sprout to a big, grounded, supported tree, and that symbolism can affect your life when you surround yourself with things like plants or the colors green and blue, because it encourages the growth and expansion in your life.

You do, obviously, residential properties. You also do commercial properties. When you’re doing an office, for example in a commercial property, is there a different technique or different form of Feng Shui applied to, let’s say, a commercial office than, let’s say, your home office?

In terms of color? They’re pretty similar, I think your home office and your work office, but for instance, a retail store, you might want more active colors like orange and red. I’m doing a retail store right now that we have a lot of black. You have more opportunities to get more exciting, I guess. In homes and offices, you want something more neutral, because you spend much more time in there and so your mind and your eyes don’t want to be activated all the time. You want to also have some time for rest and relaxation.

How about lighting inside the home? What role does that play in Feng Shui?

Lighting is really important. One thing that people don’t realize is that light represents the fire energy, so when you have more light and you have a home that’s able to be brightly lit, that represents being able to have more opportunities for advancement and to be able to see. Do you see the metaphor? When you have a lot of light, you can see more clearly what’s coming towards you. And it doesn’t mean that you need to have your lights at full blast all the time, but having the opportunity to clearly see your space around you translates into your ability to see opportunities coming to you and to your life.

Sure. And one of the things that, and we have to leave it here, but it must be noted that a lot of what you do, and I don’t know if it’s just your practice, Anjie Cho, if it’s Feng Shui related, but you’re very eco-conscious and you’re very energy efficient in all the things that you do.

Well I think that when you say energy, that can go in two ways. That can be a more esoteric energy, but also actual electrical energy, and they go hand and hand. My hope is that people begin to see how you can impact the environment around you and how, in turn, the environment can impact you. Once you realize you have that ability to change the world around you, and it can change you and support you, you really become able to shape a happy and nurturing life.

Holisticspaces.com is the website for Anjie Cho, interior architect, author and sought after expert in Feng Shui and Green Design....Anjie, thanks so much for your time. We’re gonna get you back in a short time from now, and we’re going to talk more about this and learn more about what you do. We really appreciate your time. Anjie Cho, HolisticSpaces.com. And we’ll be back in a moment on The Home Discovery Show on the Corus Radio Network.

Click here to listen to my other interviews with the Home Discovery Show

by Anjie Cho


From the leaky faucet upstairs, to an entire back yard overhaul, when it comes to projects around your home, the advice you need is heard weekly on Vancouver’s CKNW Home Discovery Show.

Join Ian Power every Sunday from 10 to 11 am PT as he’s joined by experts on home renovations and upgrades, plus the latest tools and tricks from the trades.


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Healthy Living with Patti Green: How Feng Shui Changed the Flow in My New Home!

featured this week on Healthy Living with Patti Green

Healthy Living's Patti Green and I worked together on her new condo in Florida to add a little positive feng shui and make the space a beautiful and nourishing space for Patti and her husband. Check out what we did! Patti wrote an article and we did a radio interview. 

...read and LISTEN: full article

Interview Transcript: 

Welcome to Healthy Living with Patti Green. Get the latest on health, fitness, beauty and fun as Patti and her guest share simple tips, ideas and valuable insight to motivate you to live life to its fullest.

PG: Today I’m delighted to welcome Anjie Cho, who’s a registered architect, Feng Shui interior designer and bestselling author of 108 Ways to Create Holistic Spaces, Feng Shui and Green Design for Healing and Organic Homes. Since 1999, she’s been creating beautiful and nourishing environments throughout New York City, Washington D.C., San Francisco, Los Angeles and beyond. Anjie, welcome to my show.

AC: Hi Patti, thank you so much for having me.

Thank you for coming! I’m so excited that you’re here. I’ve always been so inspired by the ancient art of Feng Shui and I’d love it if you could share with the audience, what is Feng Shui all about?

Feng Shui is an ancient art of placement that was developed in China, although all cultures have some form of Feng Shui where they look at how to position themselves in the most positive way within their environment. Feng Shui just happens to come from China, and it looks at how to locate pieces of furniture in your home to achieve the best flow. That’s on a very, maybe superficial, level but on a deeper level, it’s really about being able to see your environment as a metaphor for your life and being able to realize that your environment represents your life and you can make small changes within your environment that will create a small shift and positive shifts in the direction that you want your life to go.

So essentially Feng Shui can be architecturally, it could be interior design, but people can also Feng Shui to improve and enhance the way money flows in to their income stream and/or they can Feng Shui aspects of their relationship to be improved. Is that true?

Yes, absolutely. There’s many different aspects of life that Feng Shui can affect like money, wealth and relationships and health, also your knowledge, your career, your children, your ancestors… Almost anything in your life, you can look at how to improve it with Feng Shui.

With you being a number one architect on national scale, you’ve actually adopted Feng Shui as a very big part of your practice, and today, just for simplicity’s sakes, we’re going to give our audience 5 simple tips to Feng Shui your home without having to do any renovation. So basically with these tips that we can incorporate, people can add these to make real shifts in the way the space makes them feel.

Yes, because I think a lot of people think, “Oh, I can’t move anything around, I can’t move out wall or have a rental or I don’t have enough money to do renovation,” but there’s so much that you can do without renovating, so I wanted to share with you some of those tips today.

What would be one of the tips that you’d like to share with everybody?

One great tip is to add a wood element to your space. The wood element relates to how flexible you are in life. It relates to growth. So we talked about relationships and money, so you could think of it as growth in your income or growth in your career or growth in your relationship. The wood element, if you think of wood, you could think of plants or trees, the wood element relates to flexibility, to growth, and also it’s very healing and generates human heartedness and kindness. One easy way to add wood element to your home is with green plants. Now, ideally you want living green plants but you could also add some fake plants or silk plants as long as they’re a very good quality, very realistic and they look great. Patti and I were talking about this last time we spoke, and, for instance, if you have a home that you’re not at all the time, like a summer home, you’re not able to keep up with watering these plants all the time, or if you have, say an apartment, that doesn’t get a lot of sunlight or there’s an area in your home that doesn’t get a lot of sunlight, you can absolutely use a fake plant. I think a fake plant is better than a dead plant.

No, I’m sure. Now, when you say a wood element, I mean, it might sound simple but can someone just add a piece of wood?

Wood is a little bit different actually, and it depends on the different Feng Shui consultants, and I support all different schools of Feng Shui. What I’ve been taught by my teachers is that like a piece of wood, a brown piece of wood, is more related to the earth element because its color is brown, and it’s also deadwood. But some people would say, yes, it’s wood but to me, I think the most effective way to add the wood element would be to add a living green plant or something green. There’s something that you learn from having a living green plant. You have to take care of it. You have to pay attention to it. I had one in the corner of my house, and my husband and I forgot about it for a couple of weeks, and all the leaves died. So it does cultivate this mindfulness and teach you how to take care of something other than yourself and to be aware of your environment, so it works on many different levels.

Okay. So adding a wood element, which would basically be a living green plant or a very high quality fake silk arrangement, flowers and/or tree, that you would place anywhere in your home, or does it make a difference where?

It really depends on what you want to work on. To keep this interview simple, I would say that you could put one in your entry, one in your bedroom and one in your kitchen.

I love it. Alright, so what’s the next tip?

Another tip would be to brighten your entry, the entry of your home, because your entry represents your head or your face to the world. It also represents how opportunities come to you. A great way to brighten your entry is to, one take a look at your bulb. Make sure it’s not burned out, or it might be a really low wattage. I would encourage people to replace their light bulbs in their entries to higher wattage, so you have the ability to keep your entry very bright so that opportunities can find you. The light bulb also represents fire energy, so it adds more fire, passion and recognition. If you’re in a dark room and someone lit a match, you would be drawn to that and you would see it. That’s kind of that energy that you create in your entry and then attracting opportunities towards you by getting a new bright light bulb and having a bright entry.

I love it. Now is the entry way in a vestibule inside or an entry way that would be a light that people would see on the outside?

Both would be ideal.

Alright, we can do that. And then tell us the third tip.

The third tip would be looking at your chairs in whatever room you happen to have your TV. Most people have their TV in their family room, and usually, you have all your seating in the room facing the TV to watch TV, but it also makes sense to have some seating that doesn’t face the TV, and that inspires conversation and connection. So just take a look in to how all your chairs are arranged. If they’re all facing the TV, it doesn’t inspire connection, family, it doesn’t really inspire you. It’s more about staring at the TV, right? So I would encourage people to look at how their family room is set up, because it’s a family room! You want to spend time together, and maybe just move a couple of chairs around so they’re not all facing the TV.

That’s inexpensive.

Yeah, that one’s pretty easy, and it will really help support your relationships in your home.

It makes a lot of sense. I know that we’ve got one of those sectional couches, but it all faces the television and it doesn’t really inspire much conversation. But we do have another seating area that’s sort of centered around the coffee table, and it does inspire conversation and connection. I’m definitely going to try to add a piece of furniture in the main TV room just to add that element. I think that that’s really important.

I think so too, because how you position yourself in an environment really does matter. When you’re sitting on a bus side by side, you’re not facing each other, you actually feel very comfortable sitting close to someone, right?

Yes.

If someone was facing you, you could be further away, but that inspires conversation and eye contact, so it creates this different dynamics between the person. So you want to create situations in your home where you inspire relationship and cultivate them, rather than cultivate silence and disconnect.

What’s the fourth tip?

The fourth tip would be to look under your bed at what storage you have. Your bed is really important. It represents you, and it’s great to have space under the bed if possible. That means not to have any storage under the bed, because it may represent unconscious blocks in your life. So if you have to have some storage under your bed, the best things to store would be any soft items such as blankets or pillows, things that are bed related, linens, and avoid anything like old love letters from an ex or anything sharp. You don’t want anything negative, because you’re sleeping over that energy, and it affects you while you’re passively sleeping.

That’s kind of cool. I would never have thought of that but, in thinking now in my mother’s home, where she used to live, she had these storage bins full of these books and all this old stuff. They designed these tubs, these plastic tubs, to specifically go under the bed, they’re pretty shallow! But currently in my home, I have nothing under the bed so I’m feeling safe. What’s the fifth?

The fifth tip I have is to look around your home and see if you have any broken objects. For instance, I had a client who had this broken lamp that she had in her home for a long time, and she always meant to repair it but she never got around to it. When you have these objects in your home that are broken or need a repair, it’s a really good idea to either just get it repaired or to let it go. Give it away or toss it, because it can represent stuck or broken energy. For me, if I saw like this lamp that I meant to fix in my house every day, it’d be a constant source of a little bit of guilt like, “I should do that. When am I going to get time to do that?” It just weighs you down all the time to have that there, and we have enough things to do in our lives. We don’t really have to add more to our lists, like repairing a lamp, so either repair it or let it go.

Okay, that’s an inexpensive fix as well. I know when speaking to you, I told you about our sort of winter home, if you will, and it’s just a condo, nothing exciting, nothing big, and you’ve given me some tips of what I can do to enhance this space and basically Feng Shui it for better energy. In my blog that we give the interview going live, I’ll share with you how things have shifted in our lives with the wood element that I’m going to be adding, the brightened entry way with a new lighting, adding the chairs to the family room. I don’t have anything under my bed, so I can’t do that and I’m going to check around for any broken objects, yet, I don’t think I have any, but we bought this from somebody else, there could be something I’m not even catching. So I’m going to do a full walkabout and then report back.

Ooh, I can’t wait to see the blog post.

I know, I can’t either. Now Anjie, you do have another element to your practice, and if you just go in to it briefly. “Green” is such a big word now, everyone wants to save the environment and people are trying to recycle and repurpose. Is that would green design is about, or what is it all about with how it relates to architecture and Feng Shui design?

In architecture, green design is a very broad term. It could incorporate looking at sustainable building materials and go so far as to look at how you dispose of building debris and also the lifecycle of things or how the air quality is in the space, and it could go really into depth. I think on the easiest level, I like to work for my clients on the very simple level as to how to incorporate green living practices to their home, because when you teach people small things that they can incorporate in to their lives that include green living, then they begin to see the connection to everything, and this is also how Feng Shui is related too. I think Feng Shui is the original green design, because it really looks at how does your environment affect you, and how do you affect your environment? This is the same thing with green design. I like to teach people about simple things like, how do you cut out toxic cleaning products from your life? Or how do you incorporate recycling in to your everyday life? Then they may start to get more interested and start composting and make bigger changes, and then, hopefully (there are clients that I have that would prefer to use more sustainable materials, such as bamboo plywood, which is rapidly renewable and grows faster) maybe using reclaimed materials instead of new materials. But sadly, a lot of times in construction, it’s actually more cost effective and time effective to use new materials, and sometimes it’s almost impossible to try to renew something, so I do my best, but I think it’s about small stuff.

I love it. I mean, basically, people can make small incremental steps. Just like you said, composting and/or recycling, that’s simple. Changing their toxic cleaning materials to more green. Those are great ideas, but then also breaking it down to, if someone’s building out a space, maybe speaking to their architect or builder about certain sustainable types of materials that they might be able to incorporate that can sort of save our planet, if you will.

Yes.

Okay. Well, Anjie, I know that you’re a very sought after expert in the fields of Feng Shui and green living, and I thank you so much for being in our show today. 

Thank you so much Patti, it was so much fun.

It’s been great and I’ll report back.

by Anjie Cho


Coffee Break with Sabra: How to Get Started Renovating Your New York City Apartment

I'm excited to be featured on Sabra Sasson's "Coffee Break with Sabra!" For this interview, we chatted about what it takes to get a renovation project started in New York City, and how having an architect along for the ride can really be an asset. Check out what we have to say!

Interview transcript:

SS: Welcome to The Coffee Break with Sabra where we answer your burning questions, the questions you didn’t ask, didn’t know to ask or were afraid to ask. We ask them for you. Each week, we bring you another 20 minutes, so that you can get your answers and get back to having a productive and fabulous day. Today, we are here with Anjie Cho. She is the bestselling author of 108 Ways to Create Holistic Spaces, Feng Shui and Green Design for Healing and Organic Homes. Anjie is an architect for clients such as Satya Jewelry and is a sought after expert in the fields of Feng Shui and Green Living. Anjie Cho is a registered architect and certified Feng Shui consultant. As a graduate in architecture from the College of Environmental Design at the University of California Berkeley, she’s been creating beautiful and nourishing environments since 1999. And today, she’ll be speaking with us about how to get started renovating your New York City apartments. Welcome to the program Anjie.

AC: Hi Sabra! Thank you for having me.

Thank you for being here. I think that this is a really fabulous topic to talk about today. I know that when people buy real estate, whether it’s a house or apartment, a lot of times they want to put a little bit of themselves into the place, their own style, maybe through decorations or the right piece of furniture or paint, but sometimes a little bit more drastic measures are taken into account, like structural changes and things like that. So I thought it might be good if you could start out with talking with us about those instances where an architect is needed and maybe point out some nuances where New York City maybe unique to other areas.

Sure, of course. So I’m a licensed architect in New York City, and a lot of times when clients or perspective clients give me a call, they really want to know if they needed an architect. So in New York City, it’s a little bit unique because we have a lot of apartment renovations rather than single family homes. So if you have an apartment, this is geared towards you, and it’s not going to be as relevant if you’re talking about Brooklyn with a single family home or somewhere outside of New York City, so mostly Manhattan. So to look at whether you need an architect, generally, it really actually depends on the requirements of your condo board or your co-op board but technically, legally, New York City would want to have you file for permit with an architect for any time that you move, add or remove walls. So those are the times that you have to have an architect. Now, if you’re just painting your apartment, that you don’t need an architect for. And sometimes, if your co-op board or condo board is more lax, they may not make you file for anything, but technically, legally you’re supposed to file, does that make sense?

Yeah, definitely. Can you clarify little bit more?

Yes. So for instance, I do a lot of apartment combinations, so if you’re combining two apartments, it someone has an apartment and they buy the apartment next door to make a larger apartment, they want to combine them. So you would then be removing a wall and combining the apartments or a lot of times, people want to open up their kitchen to the living room now. If you take out that wall, you generally need to use an architect. There’s also another instance. If you want to move plumbing around, say if you have your kitchen sink on one wall but you want to move it under the window, most building management boards will require you to file that work with an architect. 

So this comes to a point, there’s a difference between a designer and architect. Now, I’m a licensed architect. That means that, just like you Sabra, like with an attorney or as a doctor, I’ve taken exams. I actually took 9 exams. I apprenticed for a number of years, 7 years actually. I have a degree in architecture and I’ve also passed all these exams in order to become a licensed professional in the State of New York. I have to do continuing education. Licensed architects are only people that actually say they’re architects and the only people that can sign off on your drawing. Well, actually, you could get a licensed engineer, a professional engineer, to sign off on your drawings too, but you need a licensed, either a PE or RA, which is a registered architect or professional engineer, to sign off on the drawings to submit to the city for you to get permit to do that work. So that’s when you need an architect.

Now, with a designer, there are no certifications required or licensing required in New York for a designer. So someone could wake up tomorrow and decide they want to be a designer, but in order to the work legally, you need to find a licensed architect. So that’s really important. If you do need to do work with an architect, make sure that the person you’re working with is not misleading you and telling you that they might be an architect when they’re not.

That’s really important. So it sounds like it’s essential, actually, to these projects because you need to have the sign off in order for them to what, be legal?

Yes. So, for instance, most co-op boards won’t even let you do the work without a permit, so you would have to hire a separate architect, if you hired a designer, that could sign off on the project. So you would have to pay extra for another architect to do the work, if you could find an architect that will work with a designer, because usually, there’s a little bit of a conflict between those two parties as well. 

But I also wanted to go back and talk a little bit more about how you know you’ll need an architect. Usually what I tell my clients and perspective clients is to contact your condo or co-op board, and ask for something called the “alteration agreement.” This alteration agreement documents and outlines all the requirements required for you to do any kind of work in your building. Even it doesn’t require an architect, they generally want you to look at the alternation agreement. There might be a decorating agreement as well, if you’re just doing paint, and that tells you all the insurances that are required, and specifics they have required, the hours of work of the building and so forth. That’s also a good opportunity to open up a conversation with either the management, or maybe the super in your building, to say, “Hey, I want to just take down this wall between my kitchen and living room. Do you know if they’re going to make me submit a permit or get a permit for this?” So it’s a good way to start conversations, but it changes with each building. But like I said, technically, if you take out any walls, if you move, remove or add any walls or relocate any plumbing, you are required by the city to do the work, but not all buildings will require that. Some buildings will let you get away with it without getting a permit. The only danger is that, say a neighbor wants to complain, and you don’t have a permit, they can complain. They can ask the DOB, the Department of Buildings, to come and do an inspection, and then you would have to stop work and you would be fined and then you would have to file the work.

So your project can be interrupted if a neighbor complains and you don’t have the proper permit is what you’re saying?

Correct. All work would cease, and you would have to resolve all the issues before you could continue the work.

Interesting. Wow! That would be such a pain.

Yeah. Actually I was working on a project one time where this happened not because they didn’t have a permit…They did have a permit, but they didn’t have the right documentation onsite. You’re required to have the approved plans onsite and, for some reason, an inspector came by the building to visit another site. He stopped by this job site, and the contractor could not find the approved plan so he shut down the building and that was terrible. I literally had to wait outside for the inspector to come back the next day. I waited the whole day. He kept telling me “I’m coming.” He ended up coming like 4:45. I waited the whole day for him to open up the job again.

Wow, wow. So it really could cost a lot of money if you don’t have the right paperwork and the right documents in place and complying with that rule of having the plans on the premises where doing the work.

Exactly.

Wow. So how does one go about finding or selecting an architect or someone to manage the project?

Well, my suggestion is to always ask first around. Just like for a doctor or a dentist or an attorney, ask for referrals. Talk to your friends or anyone that’s done a renovation recently and ask around. You can also when you ask your management for the alteration agreement, ask them, “Are there any architects that you like working with in the building?” That’s going to give you a little bit of an edge, and they’ll be familiar at the space. Of course, I’m an architect and I’m also available too. Once you’ve got 1 or 2 or, 3 maybe, that you’re looking at, I would give them a call and talk to them. Tell them about your project and see what their availability is. Number one, see if you get along with them, because you’re going to be working closely with this person, and I get a lot of people who ask me, “How much is this going to cost?” You have to understand, it’s hard for an architect to give you an estimate on their work if you don’t know what work you’re doing. So be clear about what scope you want, how much involvement you want with your architect, and talk to them too. An architect could hand hold you through the whole process, or they could be more hands off and just help you with the design or help you get the filing done. So really be clear about how much you want, and also be clear about your budget. Tell them what your budget is for construction, because that’s going to give them a good estimate on what their fees are. Generally, I think architects in New York charge between 10% and 20% of your construction cost, but that depends on how much hand holding you need during the process. An architect could come to your job site every week and check everything out, or they could not come at all, and you could just take over. So be clear about or think about your options on how much you want. What’s your budget? Think about if you can afford an architect and how much hand holding and involvement you want from them.

So let me ask you, so in terms of the architect role, it sounds like there can be a wide range of what the responsibilities are for the architect, and it sounds like it also could be more than just helping with the design of the project, as you called it.

Yes. If I was going to do a full service contract with someone, how we would start is we would do a conceptual design together, where I would meet with them and talk to them about their needs, look at how they live, what their requirements are, what their budget is and their scheduling is. Then we can walk through some conceptual design ideas. 

For instance, I just finished an apartment combination a few months ago, and with this client, we did a full service contract. So we sat down for a few meetings and found trace paper and pens and paper and really looked at her options on how to lay out the space. Tthen I proceeded with putting together what’s required for the permit drawings to get that started, because the process with the DOB takes 4 – 6 weeks, not including the time it takes to get all the signatures from management and so forth. So we got that started, and then I helped her select contractors. So we picked 3 contractors where we did a walkthrough with a good set of bid documents, which is really important too, because as an architect can provide you with bid documents, which is a set of drawings that outlines the scope of work graphically and with text. So when you walk through with the contractor without an architect, what happens is that each contractor will say, “Well, what about this, what about this, what about this?” They’re trying to be helpful. So at the end of the day, you end up with prices from three different contractors, and they’re not pricing the same thing because 1, the conversation may have change with each visit, because they have different suggestions. Number two, there are no documents stating what is the scope of work that clearly states that these are the things you’re going to purchase. You may be thinking you want to get this really cool door, but they’re going to price the cheapest things, because when they competitively bid something, they’re going to price the most competitively priced item. So at the end of the day, the price can be like a moving target. An architect can help you get a firm price. For the most part, all of my projects, we bid it out, devise some of the drawings and competitively bid it out. We include my drawings as part of the contract document, and there are almost never any change orders, which is a change in price, so you know what you’re getting into. 

And then other things that I could do is, like I said, I could do a weekly site visit where I work with the contractor to work out any design problems that occur or design issues that occur during the project. I also can help the client design the kitchen, help them layout the kitchen, bathrooms, floor tiles, what to look for. There’s so many things I can do, and then I also review payment requisitions too. You don’t want to really pay a contractor for more than what they’ve done in the case if they go out of business. You want to be able to walk away from a general contractor and still finish your work without losing any money. So I review payment requisitions and make sure that you’re good to pay it without overpaying. Because a lot of people like clients end up thinking, “Oh, we’re done,” and then they pay them all the money, but then there are punch list things, which are little small items that the contractors fix, but if you pay them all their money, they have no incentive to come back. So I advise on payment, I advise on what needs to be done, what’s typical, what’s not typical, there’s a lot, and we end up really actually saving the owners money.

Wow. That sounds amazing. All of this that you’ve described, you gave such really wonderful advice, because, you know the expression, you’ve got to compare apples to apples and oranges to oranges. You just gave the whole example. If you’re bringing in several contractors then the conversation changes. They’re not really comparing Project X to Project X. They’re comparing Project X, which has now been tweaked by the contractor, so that’s an amazing service that you offer to help people to understand what they’re actually getting a quote for to make sure that it’s all for the same project.

Exactly. At the bare minimum, I always, almost every client that I work with, I at least do the bid documents for them to make sure that they get an apples to apples comparison between the contractors, as well as my opinion on the contractor and my advice. Also, like I said, those documents, those bid document drawings go in as part of the contract documents in the contract that you sign with the GC, and in my drawings, I have a lot of notes, general notes, that cover things like, for instance, you may think you’re going to get your paint included, but then they say, “We only included that you get the ready-mix white paint.” So you think, “No, I don’t want to pay extra to get blue paint.” Little things like that. Also defining, “You need primer, plus 2 coats of Benjamin Moore paint in something other than ready-mix colors.” Things like that, that I know about, but the average home owner won’t know about. So this way you can cover yourself, make sure you get the best products. The architect really is a client’s rep, so we watch out for the client.

That’s awesome. In terms of these projects, if somebody wants to make a renovation, how would you say is the first step? Is the first step looking at the alteration agreement and then looking for an architect, if it’s necessary or required by the board? Where would somebody start? What would be the first step?

I think the first step would be to talk to your board or talk to your management or your super. If you’re close with your super in the building and he’s very involved, just ask the super, because he usually knows everything that’s going on. Let them know, “Oh, we’re thinking of doing a little bit of work,” and ask him what he thinks the process is for you, and then you can always reach out to your management and get the alteration agreement. Then ask around for architects and find a few that you want to reach out to, and give them a call or email them, and just talk to them on the phone. You could send them a plan, if you have a plan of your apartment, and just start a conversation going.

Fantastic. So I wanted to just quickly ask if you could tell our listeners how they can reach you if they have any questions about their upcoming projects and if you have any final words for us.

Well, you can reach me through my website. It’s www.anjiecho.com, and that’s spelled A – N – J – I – E – C – H – O.com, and any perspective clients can always call me directly. My phone number is on the website, or email me directly. That’s another thing that you should look at with the architect, too. You might want to see if you’re actually going to be talking to the architect throughout the process or if they have a bigger firm and you’re going to be talking to a project manager or someone lower level. I know, I basically do all the design, and I have freelancers and some staff and interns that help me, but I am the one designing. I’m the one who’s contacting the client all the time, and I also am available. I always respond within 24 hours, and that’s something that you should ask. How long will it take you to respond to emails, and will I be working with you? Maybe you don’t mind if you’re working with a project manager, or maybe you really want to work with the architect, but in any case, I’ll respond to all the emails and I’m the main contact with all my clients, so anyone can reach out to me with any questions.

Fantastic. And I feel that anyone who is considering renovation in their place should definitely consider reaching out to you, because you’re very knowledgeable and you have so much experience, and you’re really great to talk to, so I think working with you would probably be really easy.

That’s what my clients say. That’s another thing too! Sorry, one more thing. You can also ask the architects you talk to provide you with some references that you can call too. That’s really important.

That’s a great point, probably with anybody that you work with. You might want to compare and find out what the experience was with other clients that they have worked with.

Absolutely.

Fabulous. Thank you so much Anjie. Thank you for being here.

You’re welcome! Thank you so much, Sabra. It’s always so much fun. We always have so much to talk about.

Yes we do. There’s always really interesting information and fascinating stories that you share. So I want to thank you again for joining us this week and join us again next week during our weekly Coffee Break with Sabra.

by Anjie Cho


the WELLNESS WONDERLAND: EPISODE 064 | ANJIE CHO

featured this week on The Wellness Wonderland, by Katie Dalebout

Anjie Cho is awesome. I’m so excited to finally welcome her to Wonderland. Since recording this episode she has become a great friend and she even interviewed me a couple times on her site here and here. She is one of the coolest, kindest, and most knowledgable people I’ve ever met. I am fascinated by Feng Shui, minimalism, and interior design and in this episode Anjie uses her vast experience and knowledge to enlighten us on all of that and more. Anjie is a registered Architect, Feng Shui Interior Designer and best selling author of 108 Ways to Create Holistic Spaces: Feng Shui and Green Design for Healing and Organic Homes. Since 1999, she has been creating beautiful and nourishing environments throughout New York City, Washington DC, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and beyond. There are so many simple yet profoundly impactful tips shared in the episode and I’m so excited to hear how you implement them in your lives. Let us know.


Listen: Feng Shui for Home Renovations

The Home Discovery Show's Ian Power and I are at it again! This week we talked about the lunar new year for the Year of the Ram and how to incorporate feng shui into your home renovations. Tune in for answers to these questions and more! 

Interview Transcript:

IP: Anjie Cho is a holistic interior architect and a sought after expert in the fields of Feng Shui and Green Design. A registered architect in the State of New York and a certified Feng Shui practitioner, Anjie creates beautiful spaces throughout New York and beyond. And we reached her today in California, good morning.

AC: Good morning.

You’re on West Coast time today.

Yes, yes, I’m in California this week.

Whereabouts in California?

I’m in the Los Angeles area in Burbank.

Nice of you to join us this morning. Your new book is already a best seller on Amazon, congratulations for that, that’s quite an accomplishment. It also tells us that there’s a huge interest in the things that you do and talk about. The book, 108 Ways to Create Holistic Spaces, Feng Shui and Green Design for Healing and Organic Homes. What does that mean to the unwashed?

Well, Feng Shui is a philosophy where you can look at your environment as a metaphor for your life. So if you began to look at how your environment, which means your home, your office, how those spaces affect you, you can make positive shifts in your life. Everybody knows when you’re happy in your home and you feel like you have clean, supportive environment, you feel much more successful, and things come a lot easier in your life so that’s really what it’s about. My goal for the book was to create 108 simple tips that people could use to incorporate Feng Shui and Green Design principles in their life to create a more holistic environment that supports them and nurtures them.

It’s a beautiful book by the way. There’s a lot of comfort in holding your book, just the way it’s laid out and the look of it, maybe all of this ties in. I wanted to ask you about the upcoming Chinese Lunar New Year which is February 19th, that’s the Year of the Ram, and what, if any, implications that might have on what you do.

Well, it’s interesting. I think we talked the other day Ian, we’re coming out of the year of the horse and into the year of the ram. And the year of the horse; what does the horse do? A horse just runs and runs, and sometimes they hit walls and they just keep going, and it was a very active and crazy year. So I have all these things that are finally coming to a culmination right now. So it seems like a lot of things are happening right now with my book and I started an online store and my business. So this coming year, the year of the ram, is a lot more thoughtful and slower. The ram is also the same as the sheep. The sheep like to go around in herds and they like to pass a lot of friends around them and a lot of support and they move a lot more slowly, so this year is going to be a lot more thoughtful, a lot more introspective I think. There’s going to be less hitting walls and more of people getting along and supporting each other.

That’s good news. And how do we tie that in to home renovations and/or home design and decoration?

Well, I think it’s a good time to just remind yourself if you’re in a middle of a renovation or you’re considering doing renovations, why not incorporate some Feng Shui aspects into the changes that you make? I found that most of my clients, maybe they’re not interested in Feng Shui but they’re like, well, why not? Everyone’s actually becoming so much more open to it because everyone understands that your environment is so important to you especially if you’re doing a home renovation. You want to spend probably a lot of your savings on making your home just the perfect space for you to support you and your family whether you want to entertain and have your friends over for great dinners and/or have your family come stay with you or your grandchildren... There’re so many emotions and positive things involved with renovation that why not make the most of it and add in some Feng Shui tips in your renovations?

Let’s talk about the kitchen because that’s everybody’s favorite room. What are some Feng Shui tips for the kitchen?

There’s a couple Feng Shui tips. One is the kitchen cabinet. Now, a lot of people sometimes get pre-fabricated kitchen cabinets, and that’s okay if you can’t afford a custom kitchen cabinet. But if possible, try to push your cabinets, your upper cabinets, all the way to the ceiling or create a soffit above, because in Feng Shui, that area, that gap between the ceiling and the top of the cabinet, that’s a place where dead energy can collect, and if you think about it in a practical sense, it’s a dust collector. The idea is that this is a place where energy can stagnate, and it causes problems with your health and with your prosperity in your life. So just push them all the way, either push them to the ceiling or drop a soffit or put another sort of cabinet up there. And nowadays, people also have taller backsplashes because they want to accommodate like those blenders and whatnot, so we’re not seeing shorter backsplashes anymore. So that’s one of my first tips, so push your kitchen cabinet, the upper cabinets all the way to the ceiling. 

Sure. What about the stove? I know that’s an important part of Feng Shui.

The stove is really important. When we look at the three most important areas or objects in your home,  the first 3 are your bed, your stove and your desk. So the stove is really important because this is how we nourish ourselves, we cook, we feed, it’s a modern hearth, right? Everyone gathers around the kitchen now, especially with these open kitchens where we have the island. Where the stove is located is really important for the prosperity in your life because how well you nourish yourself relates to how well you can work in the world and bring abundance in your life. So if you are in a place where your stove, for instance, is not facing the door so your back is facing the entry door or you can’t see what or who’s coming in to the room, that actually puts you in a position of stress and fear, and you actually can put that energy into your food where you’re cooking and that doesn’t help you. So if you’re going to renovate your kitchen, if possible, it would be great if you could position your stove so you can see the entry towards the kitchen where most of the people are coming in so that when you’re cooking, you’re in command of your space, you’re not in a place where your back is exposed, where you don’t know what’s happening so you’re in full control, you’re happy, you're stress free and you’re relaxed while you’re cooking and nourishing yourself.

Makes sense.

And if that’s not possible, you can set up a mirror or say even like a mirror teapot on your stove so you can, it’s like a little cheat, that you can see behind you like what one of those convex rearview mirrors

Right.

So then consciously and subconsciously, you know that you could still see behind you if you heard someone coming.

Sure. Just want to move along Anjie, just because we’re just about at time and I want to make sure that I get this in, because I think one of the easiest things to do and certainly affordable things to do is to create a more inviting entry, and I want to know how and why that’s important to Feng Shui.

In Feng Shui, your entry represents your space in the world and especially, unless you're retired, most people want to have the best relationships come to you, the best opportunities come to you, and if your entry is not inviting then it’s hard for that energy or that chi to find your front door and come in to your life. So one thing is to push your entry out beyond the space of the home, that would help because it actually adds more space, more energy to that entry area. You also should really make it stand out and attractive and easy to find. There’s so many times where I see front doors hidden behind a bush or you park your car but you have no idea do I go left, do I go right, how do I get to the door…

You know what Anjie? I’m going to have to leave it there just because of time but you know what? The rest of the answer is in 108 Ways to Create Holistic Spaces, Feng Shui and Green Design for Healing and Organic Homes by Anjie Cho. Look for it online at holisticspaces.com. Anjie, we’ll get you back, we’re going to talk about college and other things the next time you join us on the Home Discovery Show. Thanks for your time and we’ll be back on the Home Discovery Show from the Corus Radio Network.

Click here to listen to my other interviews with the Home Discovery Show

by Anjie Cho


From the leaky faucet upstairs, to an entire back yard overhaul, when it comes to projects around your home, the advice you need is heard weekly on Vancouver’s CKNW Home Discovery Show.

Join Ian Power every Sunday from 10 to 11 am PT as he’s joined by experts on home renovations and upgrades, plus the latest tools and tricks from the trades.