October 29, 2005
Fast Feng Shui Newsletter
Feng Shui Tips for Small Spaces
Small spaces are a feng shui challenge. For those living in studio apartments, college dormitories, or shared apartments (where your bedroom is your only private space) combining multiple uses and activities in one room can make following the "rules" of good feng shui difficult or even impossible.
The key thing to keep in mind when applying feng shui to a multi-purpose room is that meeting any one feng shui guideline is likely to interfere with other basic recommendations. When your space and options are very limited, some of the normal feng shui guidelines may have to be broken in order to make the best possible use of the space. Here are some pointers for how to make the best of small quarters, and when to bend or even break the feng shui rules.
Keep Small Spaces Clutter-Free
Too many purposes and activities in one space almost always equal a clutter problem. We think of clutter as being things we don't use or need, but too many things in too small a space are also a form of clutter -- even if every one of those too many items is essential or beloved. The smaller your room, the more likely it is that you have more stuff than you can manage and not enough storage space.
The bottom line here is that even a small amount of clutter will make a small space seem smaller. One feng shui guideline you may have to break is the recommendation not to keep anything under the bed. In a small living space, the benefit you will gain from having one more place to keep things out of sight will far outweigh the chi-blocking effects of underbed storage. Do be thoughtful about what you keep under there, however: soft, cushy items are best for keeping under the bed: out-of-season clothing, extra towels or beddings, etc. Make it a habit to spend five minutes putting things away each night before you go to bed, so the room will look tidy when you wake up in the morning. If there's no door on your closet, hang a fabric or beaded curtain to hide the contents from view.
Bed Position Takes Precedence
One of the most important feng shui guidelines is to have the bed, desk, major sitting areas and -- if possible -- the stove each in the "command position." When many or all of these elements are in the same room, something has to give. My advice is to position the bed first, and then figure out where everything else goes.
Using the command position means placing the bed where it has a clear view of the doorway, without being directly in line with the door. The head of the bed should be against a solid wall, and not right next to a window. If your room features exposed ceiling beams, place the bed so it is not directly underneath them.
All of these recommendations are designed to help you get a good night's sleep and protect your health and energy. In a small space, you may be unable to comply with any of them. That's okay. Focus instead on figuring out where you will sleep most comfortably and soundly, which will generally be where you will be most protected from potential distractions, such as the sound of your housemate taking a shower in the morning while you try to sleep in, or a too-bright streetlight outside your window.
If you've not been sleeping well, think about what physical factors may be contributing to that, then look for an alternative bed arrangement and try it for a week to see if it's better. When you've decided on the best bed placement, you can then see if any feng shui remedies are needed, such as mirror placed to provide you with a view of the door.
Keep it Light and Bright
Dark colors will make a small space seem even smaller; pale walls and a white ceiling keep a room bright. Indulge your love of intense colors in your choice of accessories and fabrics, rather than wall color. Painting one wall of the room an accent color can make the space seem larger; if the room is all white, pick a pale shade of blue, green, pink, or yellow based on your personal color preference. If the room is already a pastel shade, use paint just one or two shades darker for the accent wall. Don't go too dark, and stay in the same color family. If you must share your sleeping quarters with a workspace, try to place the bed and desk as far from each other as possible. Make the wall on the desk side of the room your accent wall.
Accent Lighting Adds Interest
There's a good chance your room has one light fixture in the center of the ceiling, and that's it. This casts even, but often inadequate, light over the entire room and usually means that whatever you are trying to read or study is in shadow. A torchere will brighten the entire room indirectly by bouncing light off that bright white ceiling. If you don't have space enough for a torchere, invest in a small "gooseneck" desk or table lamp and place it on a table or the top of a bookcase with the light turned up to the ceiling. Have a second task lamp for your study or work desk, and experiment with turning the central ceiling fixture off and just using your torchere (or other uplight) and task lighting. Using several different light sources in different parts of the room will make the space feel larger by dividing it into separate functional areas.
Mirrors Expand Your Space
Invest in the largest mirror you can afford, and place it where it will make the room seem largest. If your room only has one window, place the mirror where the window will be reflected. This will help to visually enlarge and brighten the room.
This suggestion contradicts the feng shui guideline not to have a mirror in the bedroom, but the benefit of visually expanding your space will outweigh any potential detriment. Remember, your goal is to make the best possible use of the limited space available to you, and that means knowing when too-strict adherence to the feng shui "rules" works against you.
Direct Your Attention
The first thing you see when you enter the room will affect how you feel and function in your space. If the first thing you see is your untidy desk piled high with unfinished projects and assignments, you may feel exhausted and overworked all the time. If the first thing you see is the bed, you may spend too much time napping and not enough time studying or giving those projects the attention they need.
It's easy to create an attractive focal point with a framed poster or other artwork above a table, dresser, or bookcase in view of the door. Keep that surface tidy and free of clutter. Add an accent lamp, and set a timer to turn the lamp on before you come home if you will be arriving after dark. When you enter your room at the end of the day, the lamp will draw your attention to your focal point and give you a pleasant first impression of your space.
If you absolutely, positively can't manage all of your clutter, try to keep it where it will at least be out of your direct line of sight when you enter the room.
Small spaces don't have to be cramped, cluttered, uncomfortable, or lacking the basic attributes of good feng shui. With a little care and attention you can arrange the space for both your work and sleeping comfort.
Copyright (c) 2005 Stephanie Roberts Serrano All rights reserved
Feng Shui Q+A
(Most questions will have been edited for clarity and length, and any identifying details have been changed. Please note that due to the high volume of email I receive, it is no longer possible for me to respond to every question personally. I still welcome your questions, and if I cannot provide a personal response I will try to address your issue in a future Q+A column.)
Q: : "I`m a student living in a shared
apartment. I have my own room, which is both my study area and my bedroom.
Because of limited options, my bed is in the wealth area (after moving
it all around that is the place where I sleep best). Is that a bad position,
and if so, what can I do to make it better? All that I would have room
for is some kind of mobile. What do you recommend?"
You can certainly add some appropriate colors/symbols to the same area, if you would like to empower the wealth gua in some way. You could cover your bed with a green and purple bedspread with a leafy or vine-like pattern, for example. Work with the colors (green and purple) and/or element (wood) and or shapes (vertical, stripes) appropriate to hsun gua.
I do not recommend hanging a mobile over your bed. A mobile can be an excellent addition to hsun gua (it sets things in motion), but -- because of that motion -- it is not suitable for the area where you are trying to sleep. In other words, "yes" to a mobile in hsun gua in general, but "no" in your specific case.
Clutter Clearing Tip
MINI CLUTTER CLEARING SESSIONS
Get in the habit of taking 5- or 10-minute "tidy-up" breaks several times throughout the day. This works as well in the office as it does as home, especially if you tend to sit at your desk for hour after hour. It's good for your eyes, your brain, and your body to get up and move around for a few minutes every hour or so. Use this time to toss a few things out, go through another file, or put away the stuff that's accumulated overnight in one of your clutter-magnet zones.
"Once you get going and start to see the
difference, it becomes much easier to keep going. Every aspect of your
life starts to change. And those changes become your inspiration to
do more. Pretty soon the lessons are no longer just lessons but a way
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