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

Colors and Elemental Energy in Feng Shui.jpg

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!


House to Home: Your Perfect Workspace

featured on telegram.com by Debbie Travis

Dear Debbie: When is working at home a bad idea? I find it a real struggle to put aside home tasks and unrelated phone calls and get down to concentrating on my paying job as an accountant. Should I rent office space? — Anna

Dear Anna: For many people, working at home solves myriad challenges, including time lost traveling and food expenses. Also, cutting down on sick days is easier when you don’t have to venture out. Having a home office can be ideal with today’s computer connections, but it also depends on your career choice. Many accountants work from home, so consider how you can better situate yourself so that you can close out home distractions and concentrate on your clients.

In her recent book “Holistic Spaces, 108 Ways to Create a Mindful and Peaceful Home,” the author, interior architect Anjie Cho, lays out how to create holistic spaces using many disciplines. She thinks of feng shui as the original “green” design and looks at how the environment affects us on an energetic level, as well as how we affect the environment.

The philosophy of where to situate furniture in relation to doors and windows, what should or should not be in a room and how we can benefit by following these rules is an ancient one, and not often thought about in western societies. Because so many of Cho’s rules and so much of her guidance is backed by a combination of common sense and tested theories, it is a valuable companion, especially if you are struggling with home anxieties.

…read full article


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. Visit us at mindfuldesignschool.com.


Q&A Sunday: Driveways in Feng Shui

Driveways in Feng Shui.jpg

We are buying new modular house and putting it on land we bought. The grading and landscape guy wants to put a circular drive in front and a carport to the side of the house that the master bedroom is on, which is the dragon side of house, (the carport would not be connected to house but sits at an angle, so there are no poison arrows toward the house). I’m ok with that, but he thinks a drive from the carport to the basement entrance should go around the back yard to the basement entrance. I’m not sure that’s good, or should the basement drive come off the circular drive in front of the house. If it comes off the front driveway, will too much water (energy) be flowing by the front of house? The house is facing north, with the left side higher than the right, as the basement entrance is on the south end.

Barbara L., Charlotte, NC

Hi Barbara,

Thank you for your thoughtful question! I will only be able to answer only half, as the other half is a bit more complicated and requires an in-depth consultation with a feng shui practitioner who can take a closer look at your floor plans and the layout of the land. I will be happy to discuss a few points you mentioned.

BTB Feng Shui Easy Armchair.jpg

Congratulations on your new home and the land! For anyone who may be wondering what Barbara means by the “dragon side” of her home, in BTB feng shui, there are some directions we do look at in terms of house location. Imagine that you are the house sitting in an easy, comfortable armchair position with your back against the wall. To your right is the green dragon (if you are standing outside and facing the house from the outside, this would be the left side). On your left (as the house) is a white tiger. Behind you is a black tortoise, and in front of you is a red bird. These are the directions Barbara is referring to.

The part of this question I can speak to regards the circular driveway. If you have a circular driveway, it is ideal for the driveway to curve towards the house and hug or embrace the house. This will bring more wealth, abundance, good health, qi and opportunities. When the driveway curves away from the house, all this energy and opportunity moves away from you. So it’s great that you’re putting in your own driveway, and I would recommend ensuring that it curves toward the house rather than away from it, like in the drawing below.

Curved Driveway.jpg

Unfortunately, as I note in most of my posts, I practice BTB feng shui, which doesn’t consider cardinal directions, so I cannot comment on the house facing north, especially with the information I’m given. If you are very concerned about this, it would be helpful to find a feng shui consultant in your area with whom you resonate and who you trust and have them take a look at the lay of your land and your plans, to assess the energy there.

Thank you so much for your question!

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!


New Year, New Home: Q&A with Anjie Cho

image credit: CICO Books via    Ryland Peter & Small

image credit: CICO Books via Ryland Peter & Small

We know January can feel like a bit of a slog, but it's also a great time to stand back and take stock of where you are and what you want to achieve this year. If you feel like your home is in need of a re-design, big or small, now's the time to make sure your environment is supporting and nurturing you as much as possible. We spoke to Anjie Cho, architect, feng shui consultant and author of Holistic Spaces, about how to maximize the potential of your space and get 2019 off to the best possible start!

Hi Anjie! So what are holistic spaces?

Space is physical, emotional, energetic, and so holistic spaces is a way to look at all the space around you in an integrated way. When you can begin to see that your inner and outer spaces are connected, it gives you insight and joy. It's a mindful way to work with the environment around us, so that we can see the magic in our everyday life. Every moment and every space has a gift to offer. 

When did you first become interested in feng shui?

In my late twenties I was pretty miserable and looking for happiness outside of myself. On a trip to the Buddhist country of Thailand, I had an epiphany during a Reiki session where I realized that when I returned to New York City I would begin a journey to find contentment within myself. So, I started studying meditation, yoga, and naturally next came feng shui. I was an architect so I wanted to bring this mindfulness into my work as well.

…read full article


Dive deeper into feng shui to transform your life!

Mindful Design is a new way to learn feng shui. Create sacred spaces that support, and nourish.

visit us at mindfuldesignschool.com


Nine Star Ki for the Earth Pig Year 2019

Nine+Star+Ki+for+the+Earth+Pig+Year+2019.jpg

Happy Chinese New Year!

Next Tuesday, we celebrate the Chinese New Year! I am excited to greet the Year of the Pig with my new class, 2019: Golden Cicada and Welcoming the Wealth Gods. Join me on Monday to learn these powerful rituals for the new lunar year! You can learn more and enroll here.

A new lunar year also means new Nine Star Ki forecasts! In addition to Chinese zodiac astrology, I like to use the numerology of the Nine Star Ki to prepare for the coming year and stay energetically balanced. This practice was developed in ancient China, so it logically goes well with feng shui, and is based on a number system of nine rather than the animal system (but be sure to check out your 2019 zodiac horoscope here!). It also closely aligns with the five element principles and the I-Ching

Don’t forget to also grab one of our custom aromatherapy blends for each Nine Star Ki number in the Year of the Pig. Each aromastick is created to provide support and enhance the energy for your individual number in the coming lunar year, and they can be used in conjunction with feng shui!

If you’ve never used Nine Star Ki before, have no fear! Use the guidelines below to find your number, and let’s get started!

You can calculate your principle number by using your year of birth. Beware: this requires a little elementary math ;)

As an example, if you were born in 1986:

  • Add: 1+9+8+6 = 24

  • Reduce to a single digit: 2+4 = 6

  • Subtract from 11: 11-6 = 5

*if you were born between January 1 and February 4, subtract from 12:  12-6 = 6

If you were born in 1940:

  • Add: 1+9+4+0 = 14

  • Reduce to a single digit: 1+4 = 5

  • Subtract from 11: 11-5 = 6

*if you were born between January 1 and February 4, subtract from 12:  12-5 = 7

Here's what all that calculating means for the Year of the Earth Pig in 2019:

If your principle number is 1, in 2019 you will be in the year of Celebration. This year will feel celebratory and playful. It is a great time to relax and pat yourself on the back for all the hard work that you put in the last few years. Enjoy yourself, rejoice and have some fun. As a 1 Water person, you will feel very supported and enjoy this 7 metal year. It’s an auspicious year for you!

If your principle number is 2, in 2019 you will be in the year of Stillness. This year will be much quieter than the last. It will be a time of stillness, like climbing up a mountain to meditate in isolation. This is a great time to focus inward and do some self-cultivation. As a 2 Earth person, you will feel at home in this 8 Earth year. This is a time to ground yourself and go deep and focus on self-care.

If your principle number is 3, in 2019 you will be in the year of Recognition. This year you will be in the house of fire, where you have the best opportunities to be seen and recognized by others. It is a great time to receive any promotions or any other projects that you want publicity for. Be careful, as all things, good or bad, may be unveiled to the public. As a 3 Wood person, you may be prone to burn out in this 9 Fire year. Add some water and go with the flow to tone down the flames.

If your principle number is 4, in 2019 you will be in the year of Planning. This year will feel quiet and is a time for planning. In the winter, it may appear that everything is dead on the surface, but underneath there is much life and activity. Similarly, it may feel slow, but take this time to reflect, review and plan for the future. As a 4 Wood person, you will feel very supported and rejuvenated in this 1 Water year. Take advantage of the quietness and rest up!

If your principle number is 5, in 2019 you will be in the year of Germination. This year will be the time to plant seeds. When you plant a garden, you germinate many more seeds than you need. Do the same this year. Put all your ideas out there into the universe and share them with others. Plant the seeds and see what comes up! As a 5 Earth person, you will feel supported in this 2 Earth year. Enjoy, and let this year take care of you.

If your principle number is 6, in 2019 you will be in the year of Sprouting. This year will be energetic and full of new beginnings as you catch sight of seeds that you planted last year begin to sprout and grow. Be open to new ideas and cultivate the projects that you start at this time. As a 6 Metal person, you may feel a little overwhelmed in this 3 Wood year. Remember that this is a time to sharpen and expand. Take care to not get burnt out and depleted.

If your principle number is 7, in 2019 you will be in the year of Rapid Growth. This year will be a continuation of last year where you see your sprouts grow into strong, grounded trees. This year will be busy and active, so please take care of yourself and be careful not to get burnt out. As an 7 Metal person, you may sense some upheaval in this 4 Wood year, but remember that it's about creating movement and change for the better! Take care not to get overwhelmed and burnt out.

If your principle number is 8, in 2019 you will be in the year of Fluctuation. This year will feel a little chaotic, as this is a time of renewal and rebirth. You many need to reinvent yourself this year. It’s a great time to let things go that are no longer serving you. As an 8 Earth person, you will feel generally supported in this 5 Earth year. Emphasize some self-love and care this year.

If your principle number is 9, in 2019 you will be in the year of Prosperity. This year will feel strong and prosperous. You will begin to feel confident and be recognized for your knowledge and skills. There will still be a lot of effort, but you shall finally be harvesting the fruits of your labor. As a 9 Fire person, you will feel good in this 6 Metal year. Make the most of it!

Hopefully 2019 holds lots of promise and positive energy for you! Even if the year ahead appears challenging, remember that great things can come from difficulty. Interested in learning more about Nine Star Ki? Listen in on this Holistic Spaces podcast, and take a peek at the blog, too, for ideas on how to celebrate the Chinese New Year! Regardless of your number or zodiac animal, remember to take care of yourself during the Year of the Earth Pig! Start this off by grabbing a three-dimensional tiger charm to carry with you at all times for protection and support and enrolling for the Golden Cicada ritual event. Since the Tiger is the Pig's best friend, carrying this charm will keep you in their good graces. :) Happy Lunar New Year!

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 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: Laying the Bagua with a Garage

Laying the Bagua with a Garage.jpg

My garage is attached to my house, and if include it, the prosperity, family and skills and knowledge areas are to the left of the front door. Do I have to include it, and if I do I feel like it will hinder the effectiveness of all other areas of the house. Without it my bedroom would lie in the prosperity area. 

Judy M., Ukiah, CA

Dear Judy,

Thank you for writing in with your question for the Holistic Spaces blog.

Your garage is attached to the house, and you like the way the bagua is laid better when the garage is not attached. Unfortunately it doesn’t quite work that way. If your garage is attached to the house and it’s under the same roof, it is part of the main bagua map. It’s not something that you can pick and choose, because how the bagua is laid is based on the perimeter of the house.

On the other hand, there is another concept that comes up: the concept of the ever-changing or floating bagua. You have many other bagua layouts besides the one just of the house. You also have a bagua on the whole property, and there’s also a bagua of each room. Sometimes people have more complicated layouts where they perhaps have secondary doors; for instance, they have an outer gate and an inner gate. The outer gate might be considered a yin door, and we have other blog posts about that if you’re interested. So while you can’t pick and choose how you’d like to lay the bagua, hopefully the knowledge that there are additional baguas gives you some relief.

There are different practitioners and different schools that lay the bagua differently, and there’s a lot of conflicting information out there. If you do find conflicts, I would recommend going with what school or teacher resonates with you. It’s also helpful to work with a consultant because they’ll be able to give you ways to work with your unique floor plan.

It would also be very helpful if you could take some time and email us with your floor plan, because I’m a little concerned that perhaps you may not have laid it correctly. What you want to do is lay the bagua so that your front door is aligned with the bottom of the bagua. Your front door would be either in Knowledge, Path in Life, or Benefactors.

I hope this helps, Judy, and I hope this helps other readers as well. Please feel free to email us at info@holisticspaces.com with your floor plan, and we’d love to do a follow-up.

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!


How to spruce up a Sheepshead Bay co-op with a peach-tiled bath and plain kitchen

featured this month on Brick Underground by Leah Hochbaum Rosner

image credit:    Brick Underground

image credit: Brick Underground

This Sheepshead Bay one bedroom, 2711 Ave., X, #6D is asking $225,000 and has a lot going for it, according to architect and Feng Shui expert Anjie Cho, including a “workable” floor plan, a private balcony, and decent-looking floors.

Still, there are lots of things that could be improved, such as the prodigiously peach bathroom, which she believes needs to be gutted immediately. “The wallpaper. That vanity. That gray tub. Oh my God,” she says.

She also hates the tiny, makeshift sunroom between the living room and terrace—which accounts for the second layer of windows visible behind the original windows—as well as two terrace doors. It takes precious square footage away from the terrace and makes the back wall in the living room look too busy. It’s also fairly shabby-looking, she says, noting the exposed wiring and “dingy” doors. “It’s the first thing you see when you walk in. It doesn’t make a very good impression.”

...read full article


Dive deeper into feng shui to transform your life!

Mindful Design is a new way to learn feng shui. Create sacred spaces that support, and nourish.

Visit us at mindfuldesignschool.com


It's Nesting Season — Here's How To Make Your Bed The Coziest On The Planet

image credit: Megan Doty, mbg Creative via    MindBodyGreen

image credit: Megan Doty, mbg Creative via MindBodyGreen

The term "hygge" first popped up on the American scene in 2016, and unlike other home trends come and gone, the Danish philosophy that prizes cozy, comfortable spaces has withstood the test of time.

It makes sense: Who wouldn't want to walk in their front door and immediately feel wrapped in a warm hug? Typical hyggelig fodder includes fuzzy socks and roaring candles, but to ring in winter 2019 we're calling for the next iteration of a wellness-approved hygge bedroom: one that makes us feel cushy and safe while also promoting a better night's sleep.

Go forth and make the bed of your dreams with these eight add-ons:

6. Reminders of people (or pets!) you love.

Placing a reminder of someone or something you love right across from your bed basically guarantees that you wake up in a good mood every morning. It can be a photograph from a family trip, a dreamy landscape, or an ode to a furry friend.

When you're hanging yours, take a cue from feng shui design philosophy and place it a little higher on the wall than you think you need to. "If someone has issues with depression and low energy, I often notice that their artwork, photographs, and mirrors are hung low on the walls. The low artwork can bring down your chi," feng shui expert Anjie Cho explained in a piece about bedroom design. "It's also good to fasten frames in two places so the art isn't crooked."

…read full article


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: Disposing of Sacred Ritual Objects

Disposing of Sacred Ritual Objects.jpg

I had two ceramic small decorative fu dogs in my kitchen near main entrance. A worker in the house broke one, and I tried to fix it, but it is terribly ruined. How do I "dispose" of or store these so as not to bring bad luck?

Sarah B., Portland, OR

Dear Sarah,

Thank you so much for submitting your question about Fu Dogs to the Holistic Spaces blog. It’s quite interesting that this is the third question I’ve received about Fu Dogs--maybe I’ve received more, but this is the third one I’ve answered on Q&A Sundays. (You can read the other two articles here and here.) In BTB feng shui, I never learned about Fu Dogs from my teachers, and I really don’t know all that much about them, so in the other two cases I deferred to others who know more about them. I asked two of my mentors and a colleague who is more familiar with more traditional Chinese objects. What I do know is that Fu Dogs are mythical creatures believed to offer protection from evil spirits and harmful people. They are usually placed in pairs, one female and one male, at the front door or main gate of a home, temple, or business.

Since the Fu Dogs were in your main entrance, it sounds like you were using them as protectors, and because one was broken, it is correct that it’s time for you to let go of the Fu Dogs and bring something else in. Interestingly, when you’ve made a feng shui adjustment and something is damaged, it’s actually a positive sign that the adjustment is doing its job. In a sense, it absorbed some negative chi. For instance, say you put up a crystal and it falls and breaks. This is actually a sign that you should replace it with a higher quality (a.k.a. more expensive) version of the same item. If the string breaks, you want to get a stronger, higher quality string. If a crystal breaks, you would want to get a higher quality crystal. It did its job and was strong enough to hold back any negative chi for a while, but now you need to get something stronger. In this case, your small decorative Fu Dogs served their purpose in your kitchen, and now would be a good time to replace them with larger, higher quality, more expensive Fu Dogs in the same location.

To answer your question of how to store them so as not to bring bad luck, I would suggest that you dispose of them, because it’s not recommended that you use that one alone. (we have another blog post that addresses that). However, not everything needs to be a feng shui adjustment. If you love the one that you have and you have some sentimental connection to it, you can keep it in that sense and place that single one somewhere else.

If you do want to dispose of it, here’s a good way to do that, and this goes for a lot of feng shui ritual objects: you can store it on your altar or at your shrine wrapped in red cloth. That’s what I do with a lot of my feng shui ritual objects that are not in use, since that’s a sacred space and it keeps the object sacred.

If you’re going to dispose of both Fu Dogs, you can also wrap the intact Fu Dog and the remains of the broken Fu Dog in the red cloth, thank the Fu Dogs for the service that they provided, and then bury them or dispose of them in the trash. But I wouldn’t just throw them into the trash without any kind of ceremony, as in thanking them and wrapping them in a red cloth. It’s very similar in other disciplines--I practice Ikebana, flower arranging, and in the contemplative form, you wouldn’t dispose of all your cuttings into the trash directly. In Japan they actually have shrines for used needles and flower cuttings. When I do flower arranging, I wrap my cuttings in a piece of paper and then put it in the garbage, and I treat it as a sacred offering.

Another possibility is to donate the one Fu Dog that is intact, and it might end up in a secondhand store. Then another person would find themselves with the question of what to do with one Fu Dog like in our earlier Q&A. Even if you give away the Fu Dog, be sure to thank the object for supporting and protecting you, and you may want to keep it wrapped in a red cloth when you transport it or give it away.

Thank you so much for your question! This is a helpful topic, because my suggestions above are not just about how to dispose of Fu Dogs, but how to dispose of any kind of ritual objects.

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!