Feng Shui Tips for Spring Renovations

by Carol C. Wheelock

Spring always brings with it a desire for change. After being inside more in the winter months, any flaws in our surroundings tend to be magnified. Is it time for that addition or major renovation? Or maybe you're tired of those boring white walls and it's time for a little color in your life. Maybe you're not sure exactly what you want to do. Regardless, feng shui offers some practical and powerful guidelines to getting the most from your efforts.

This ancient Chinese art/science is about creating spaces that support people. Feng shui literally means wind and water. This symbolizes the meandering gentle flow of energy that we want in our lives and spaces. It refers to the seen and the unseen and how we are influenced by both. It also refers to the inner and the outer, meaning that what is within us and what is outside of us (in our spaces), are equally important.

Underlying all feng shui principles is the belief that our surroundings affect us and we reflect our surroundings. If your house is too small and you feel constricted in that space, then that constriction will likely be reflected in some area of your life. This is because everything has an energy field and everything is connected - a concept that is supported by modern physics. In addition, everything is always changing. The key is to use change in our surroundings to facilitate positive change in our lives.

The feng shui adage "What you first see most affects your chi (energy)" can give you clues as to the best place to start as you plan your spring projects. What do you first see when you drive up to your house? Is it clear where to enter? Even though you know how to enter your house, if the entry is not clear it symbolizes confusion. A landscaped meandering path to your front door and/or a new color for that door can make a big difference.

If you are among the many who enter your house through a garage, are you welcomed by what you see there? Or are you greeted with reminders of all the things you have to organize, get rid of, take care of, etc., etc.? First of all, do some serious clearing out. It is usually better to not attempt to do this all in one day - that's enough to make anyone come up with creative excuses to avoid doing it altogether. Instead, get rid of (or take care of) 27 things at a time or tackle it in sections. Then it is time to add shelving, organize, and purchase practical containers. Think how much better you will feel when you are greeted by an organized clean garage. (I do recommend that front doors are used by homeowners at least once a week, and not just by guests, because it is the main way that the energy enters a house.)

Once inside, do you have adequate storage and places to hang coats and jackets? Anything that does not have a home is considered clutter and clutter can make you feel stuck, depressed, lethargic, and more. Money spent on well-organized storage is money well spent. After you've organized your garage, you deserve to come into a house that is free of clutter.

Floor plans that do not flow and spaces that just "don't work" are major reasons people choose to renovate. Before you decide to add on, take a good look at the use of space. Many times a different use of space is just as beneficial and a lot less expensive. Just because a room has always been used as a bedroom, does not mean that it is the best use for that space. As families change size, it is especially important to take a fresh look at the function of rooms.

If you do decide to add on, there are some feng shui principles to consider. One of these is the bagua, which is a template of grid that is superimposed upon any space - property, house, apartment, room, surface. Each of the areas of the bagua corresponds to an area of life. It is best to think in terms of complete shapes so that all the areas are included. This does not mean that every house has to be square or rectangular. It does mean that every area has to be acknowledged. Good landscaping, patios, etc. can help tocomplete shapes.

prosperity/ wealth fame/ reputation relationships
health/family center creativity/
self knowledge/
career helpful people/travel

Align this side with the front of your house.

When people add on they frequently change the bagua. For instance, if you start with a basic rectangular house, you are also starting with a complete bagua. If you then add an L-shaped addition, you no longer have a complete shape and will be missing one or more areas of the bagua. This can cause some not-so-positive changes in your life, unless you take this new shape into account and take measures to complete the shape or compensate in some other way. On the other hand, you can use an addition to complete the shape of an irregularly shaped house.

If you have decided to go ahead with an addition, plan the placement of the furniture carefully before you finalize your plans. Consider the command position, which is the place in the room from which you can see the door without being in direct line of it. Beds, desks, couches, and stoves are the key pieces of furniture. People sleep, work, relax, and nurture others best when they are in the command position.

If color is part of your spring revitalization project, today's market offers an overwhelming number of colors to choose from. If you add on the faux finish options, that number increases exponentially. Many people opt for white because it eliminates the necessity of making a decision. The problem with white rooms is that they are loud and it takes extra effort to try to warm them up, sometimes ending up with too much in a room.

So where do you begin? First of all, recognize the importance of color and pay attention to how different colors make you feel. Just because you don't wear a color, does not mean it is not a color you can use in your home. If the idea of color on your walls is new, I would recommend starting with a color that gives you the sense of color without overwhelming you or the space. There are many wonderful "neutral" colors in creams, sages, etc. that don't feel like pastels. These colors don't limit what else can be introduced into the space, yet they lift the energy of a room.

If you want more color but are hesitant, try painting one wall a more intense color or paint a bathroom, den, or hallway a more daring color. Remember that reds, oranges, and yellows warm up a space. Greens (although they vary) and blues are cooler colors. Paint is inexpensive and it is worth buying a quart to try a color if you are not sure. Check the color at different times of day in different light.

If you have a room in which everyone tends to get sleepy or have low energy levels, perhaps it is too yin. This refers to a space that has many of the following qualities: dark, low, small, curved, soft, ornate, floral, feminine. In this case, balance it with lighter and brighter colors, simpler fabrics, and up-lighting. Small changes can make a big difference.

In contrast you my have a space that everyone tends to hurry through or in which children may be too active. Long straight hallways encourage people to run. Slow down with art that is staggered on opposite walls, small rugs (not runners), and pictures with depth to widen the space. Yang spaces also encourage running. These rooms tend to be light, large, vertical, straight, hard, geometric, plain, and masculine. Bring in some of the yin qualities to calm down these spaces.

These are just some of the ways that feng shui can help you with your spring projects. Spring is a time of new beginnings, a good time to make a commitment to create the surroundings that support you and your goals. Plan your projects with care and enjoy the results!

Carol C. Wheelock, M.Ed. of Feng Shui Vermont is a certified feng shui practitioner who has studied in the United Sates and China. She practices Black Sect or western feng shui. Carol does private consultations for homes, schools, libraries, and businesses; clutter counseling and clearing; spaces clearings; phone consultations; presentations; and teaches workshops throughout the United States. She also does personal clearings.

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Carol C. Wheelock