Optimal Kitchen Feng Shui: the Chi of the Hearth

Kitchen - Hearth of the Home

While there’s not much you can do to change a kitchen location or its interior layout in an already built home, great Feng Shui always aims for the optimal and then makes recommendations to achieve the best case scenario for your specific situation.  So, here are some tips for optimum kitchen Feng Shui:

  1. The Kitchen as the Hearth of the Home – The word hearth is synonymous with home and according to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary it’s a vital or creative center”. The kitchen is where you cook nourishing meals for yourself and your family and it’s the center of activity for the home. The optimal location for a kitchen is in the central area of the home’s floor plan. This creates a balance in the central Health Quadrant of the home and is equidistant to all the other areas. Good Feng Shui = Good Floor Plan Design.
  2. The Triangle as Optimum Function – The shortest distance between two objects is a straight line. Placing the sink, stove and refrigerator in a triangle configuration not only creates the most functional use of kitchen space, it also separates in Feng Shui terms the Fire and Water Elements represented by these important functions. Water is a destructive Element for Fire and placing the stove next to the sink or the refrigerator will diminish the positive energy needed for cooking nourishing food. Also, in purely functional terms, the cooling capacity of a refrigerator will also be affected by the heat radiated from a stove in close proximity. Good Feng Shui = Good Energy Conservation.
  3. A Place for Everything and Everything in its Place – Organized cupboards, drawers and cabinets containing all that is necessary and nothing superfluous is Optimum Feng Shui at its best. Plates and glasses without chips or cracks; utensils without rust or in disrepair; machines in good working order without frayed cables – all of these will contribute to the positive chi in your kitchen. When you can find everything you need with ease and have everything you need to prepare a nutritious meal, your time spent in the kitchen will be a positive experience and the energy you infuse into what you cook will be positive as well. Good Feng Shui = Having a Good Time.
  4. Wake up and Smell the Coffee – Feng Shui is really about how all of your senses engage with a space. Kitchens are the quintessential “good scent” originator in the home. Make sure yours either smells sparklingly clean or succulently aromatic. Anything musty, dusty, dingy or stinky is definitely enough to repel you from this potential creator of good vibrations. Good Feng Shui = Good Scents.
  5. Everyone loves the Spotlight – Good lighting is essential for all the activities that happen in the kitchen. From washing the dishes to chopping food to how yummy a dish looks before being lovingly served, a good level of lighting in the appropriate spots is a must. Make sure your kitchen is well lighted above the sink, underneath your cabinets for countertop prep, and above center islands or breakfast counters and nooks. Good Feng Shui = Good Illumination.

All of these good Feng Shui recommendations may seem quite obviously a part of great interior design, and that’s so true. Great Feng Shui, whether in the kitchen or anywhere else in the home, will ensure that your space is not only functional but will also create a positive experience, which is at the heart of positive Chi.


Memory of Place

Big White Craftsman Home - Feeling Safe!

Have you ever walked into a person’s home and felt uncomfortable? Like there was something you couldn’t quite put your finger on or even acknowledge in a rational sense? On the other hand, have you ever walked into a place and felt totally at ease, as though almost every detail, down to the smell, made you feel welcome?

Close your eyes, think back to your childhood home, the first place you lived and were aware of your surroundings. Was it a “Miami Beach Modern” clean-lined concrete structure or a “Northwest Craftsman Bungalow” with clapboard siding? Was there a high flat ceiling or were there exposed beams and a pitched roof? How big were the windows? How bright and airy or cozy and enclosed was the living room? Did it have a fireplace?

Now, imagine the home of your dreams. How many features from your childhood home are mirrored in your home of the future? Or even in the home you currently inhabit? This will depend greatly on whether the childhood memories of your home are happy ones.

My big white childhood home in Portland, Oregon had a fireplace where we eagerly hung our stockings each year at Christmas. There was a special corner right next to the hearth for our gift laden Christmas tree. The house had large picture windows that allowed plenty of light and gave us a postcard view of each changing season. Its wide Craftsman-style front porch with stout brick columns welcomed us home from school each day. I can remember feeling safe and secure there.

As an adult, I’ve always been drawn back to neighborhoods like the one I grew up in with its mix of styles and sizes. One such place was Pasadena, California with its Craftsman jewels; the other is in College Park, Florida with its mélange of big and small bungalows, revival style cottages and tree-lined streets. For what seems to be an inexplicable reason, these places make me feel like I’m home, like I belong. The reality is we all respond to our memory of place. Those happy childhood thoughts and feelings are forever attached to the place where we first felt them, and our internal subconscious desire is to replicate them.

Now that you’ve been transported to your childhood memories of place, let’s visualize another scenario. Imagine yourself living in just one room, performing every daily task − sleeping, cooking, eating, reading, watching television, making love and raising children – inside only four walls. Just the thought of it makes you cringe. How much we have evolved since the days when homo-sapiens first became cave-dwellers and many of those activities were commonplace!

Just as we have an affective connection to our childhood home, so does our brain have an ancient memory of place embedded deep inside our human response system. The ancient Chinese, grounded in the knowledge that created the Feng Shui philosophy, understood our primal connection to place. How each activity performed within our “cave” was connected to a hierarchy of safety or honor. An example of this is the fight-or-flight response which makes us feel safer when we have a solid wall behind us or as the saying goes “when someone’s got our back”. As a result of this knowledge, they created a road map called the Bagua. This is the starting point from which we can experience our homes, just like taking a journey.

Bathrooms: Clean your Chi or Flush your Energetic Flow?

Bathrooms are much more important in Feng Shui terms than we really give them credit for. They can really make or break some of the more important aspects of life – from Wealth to Relationships and everything in between.

How is the Chi in Your Bathroom?

Here are some interesting tidbits about bathrooms that you may not know:

1-      Whatever Quadrant a bathroom occupies can have very detrimental energetic influences on that part of your life. If it’s in a Wealth Quadrant your money may be constantly “going down the drain”. If it’s in a Relationship Quadrant it may mean that there are issues in your Love Life that require “cleansing”.

2-      Bathrooms are best located when they straddle two Quadrants, that way their influence is “broken down” and not in full force.

3-      Just like all other areas of your home, bathrooms should not be left neglected. A cluttered, messy, outdated, “not in good working order” bathroom is a negative energy provider.

4-      Leaky faucets and draining toilets are also very bad Feng Shui. Just as it gets your water bill to skyrocket, so is it an energetic “drain” on your Wealth.

5-      Be careful where the mirror in your bathroom is located. Does it “chop your head off” when you exit the tub? Does it “cut you in half” or “give you a floating head” when you reach for the towel? If the mirror happens to be on your Future wall it will multiply the feeling of not being “whole” or of “not having legs beneath you firmly planted and walking toward your future”.

6-      The colors in a bathroom are also essential for feeling soothed and refreshed. Think in terms of those high end spas with their aqua marine and sage green walls. The Water Element – with blues and blue greens – will help you feel replenished and ready to take on the world.

7-      Fluffy and cozy towels will add more Yin energy and make you feel even more soothed.

8-      Soft area rugs to step on when exiting the shower will add to the Earth Element and feelings of safety.

9-      Flowers and candles can finish balancing the Elements in this very important space.

So you see, bathrooms can both replenish us and get us ready for the day or they can drain us beyond repair. Sounds like a very important and easy choice to me. How about you?

This is NOT your Chinese grandfather’s Bagua

The Feng Shui map or Bagua can be traced back thousands of years. It’s been used for auspicious gravesite placement as well as for attracting wealth and abundance to a business location. Some schools of Feng Shui rely on it for all of their “cures” or recommendations. It has evolved over time and since being translated to Western school usage.

Pyramid Feng Shui Bagua

Pyramid School philosophy identifies feng shui as an information system that reveals how a home or workplace can affect health, relationships and self-actualization. It has studied the ancient wisdom and filtered it through Western cultural beliefs and scientific human behavior studies. This has given a new meaning to Feng Shui that relates to our modern world and takes all backgrounds into consideration without trying to influence religion, culture or personal design esthetics. Pyramid Feng Shui is the preeminent scientifically based study of the person-place connection. Because of this the Pyramid Bagua is slightly different than any you may have seen before.

Pyramid Feng Shui Bagua

Here are some explanations about the new Quadrant names:

IDENTITY: This Quadrant is about “You”. Who are you? Who is the family, group of people, or individual that occupies this home, office, business or space? This Quadrant is the starting point from which to proceed forward.

COMPASSION:  Human beings are known to look toward the right when entering a space to ensure it is safe to enter or that they are welcome. Thus this Quadrant is the place to make an initial compassionate impression on anyone who enters. It tells them, “So happy you’re here!”

CREATIVITY: In our modern world not everyone is likely to have children and this doesn’t mean that they don’t have projects to nurture. So this Quadrant is no longer destined only for Descendants. Pets, plants, nieces and nephews, crafts, projects and anything else that brings out the caring part of your personality is honored in this Quadrant. And of course, your children too!

RELATIONSHIP: More and more we see couples joined together in a wide array of ways. No longer do we see relationships follow strict social guidelines. Therefore, this Quadrant relates to the intimate union of the couple – whatever form that takes. In an office setting it even relates to the relationship with co-workers, whether they are peers, subordinates or the boss.

FUTURE: The quest to keep moving forward is always ahead of us. Thus this Quadrant lies straight ahead of where we enter our home, office, room or space. We all have our own distinct vision of what our future should be and we each have unique desires on how far we wish to excel. Fame and recognition may be too narrow a desire since not all foresee being in the public eye as the goal of their life purpose.

SELF-EMPOWERMENT/WEALTH:  This Quadrant is really about much more than just Wealth. It’s about abundance, feeling in charge, accomplishment. If you have decided to pursue an endeavor that really doesn’t supply unlimited funds, that doesn’t mean you feel lacking in accomplishing your goals. “Wealth” truly is in the eye of the beholder and has a different meaning for all of us.

COMMUNITY: In ancient China a household would normally include many generations of the family living under the same roof. In our modern world, where grandparents many times don’t live anywhere near their grandkids, our sense of family has given way to a much broader sense of community. This Quadrant honors those connections.

WISDOM: The ancient Bagua places knowledge in this Quadrant, but Pyramid Feng Shui doesn’t consider it to be enough. How much value does book smarts have unless you have learned to apply it to your daily life. To be wise is much more beneficial.

HEALTH: In the center of the Pyramid Bagua is health. When all aspects of life are in dynamic balance, and all is flowing with ease, we can feel healthy on all levels – physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. That is the ultimate goal of good Feng Shui.

It’s important to point out that the Quadrants that are diagonally opposed to each other on the Bagua have a direct influence on each other. Hence, being connected to your past values will help you hand them down to your descendants; being compassionate will make you truly wealthy and not just rich; knowing what you desire will help you to achieve the relationship that fulfills you; and knowing who you are will give you the solid foundation to realize the future of your dreams.

364 Nights to go until Valentine’s Day!

What’s your Valentine’s Day Dream?

I know what you must be thinking, “But it was just Valentine’s Day yesterday!” And you’re absolutely right. That means you have a whole year minus one night to ensure that Valentine’s Day 2013 becomes one to remember, especially if yesterday was one you want to erase from memory! This is your chance to get to work, take action, do everything in your power – and let go of what isn’t – so that your next Valentine’s Day will be just the first in a long never-ending string of keepsake moments.

Sure, this sounds like the stuff of fantasies. But I can assure you that if you follow my simple steps you will be thanking me come next year. Believe me, I’ve been there. I even broke off a relationship the day after Valentine’s Day because it was such a letdown.  It may sound very frivolous and superficial, but if a guy makes you a romantic dinner with candles and a card and then proceeds to let you know his grown daughter is coming over (when you’ve only been dating for two months and you’ve only met her briefly), you know that there are some intimacy and “into you” issues that can only go downhill from there.

So what makes me the expert that can let you in on the secret to Valentine’s Day success? Well first of all, I was you, over and over again! And, that breakup I mentioned actually was the spark that started me down the path to writing my book “Change Your Sheets, Change Your Love Life”. But most importantly, because I followed my own advice, I had the best Valentine’s Day ever. My boyfriend surprised me with red roses and romance the night before; he woke me with kisses the day of; we shared a delicious dinner out at our favorite restaurant and he lovingly (and willingly I might add) watched a girlie chick-flick at the theater – surrounded by hundreds of sweet young couples with flowers and teddy bears – just because I wanted to see it. Who could ask for more?!

Now, do you want to know my secret?

If you do, here are 3 easy steps you can take right now:

1-      Love Yourself First – I know this sounds cliché, but it really is the most important step you can take if you really desire someone in your life. Someone that loves you as much as you love yourself. This means taking care of yourself, inside and out; doing the things you love to do; going to places you love to visit; and most of all being the happy person you are meant to be no matter what your momentary circumstances might be.

2-      Take Informed Action – All this step means is that you need to align your internal desires with your external world. It’s a known fact that an idea that just stays inside your brain has no chance of ever becoming a reality. In my book I explain the simple things you can do so that your bedroom exudes the message that you are ready and willing to share your space – and your life – with a loving partner. It’s very easy if you just start to live it like it’s already here. I know a girl who placed a coaster on the nightstand because she figured that if a man was sharing her bedroom he might like to bring a glass of water with him at bedtime. It wasn’t long before that was exactly what was happening in her life.

3-      Let it Flow – Once you’ve become an expert at steps 1 and 2, and you’re completely ready to have the relationship you’ve always dreamed of, comes the easiest step of all. Just let it come to you, because it will be inevitable. This doesn’t mean to sit on your hands and wait around for the phone to ring. Listen to your inner voice, be spontaneous, do what feels natural and easy to you. Don’t force it, but also don’t fear taking the first step. Even I had to contact an old boyfriend on Facebook to see if he wanted to go out for coffee, and have been surprisingly and happily with him ever since.

“Change Your Sheets, Change Your Love Life” is available at www.amazon.com

Jennifer Aniston: Big Feng Shui Tips if you truly want this Love to Last!

jennifer and justin - A Love to Last!

Dear Jen,

this romance with Justin is looking very promising. If you really think he’s The One, follow these Feng Shui Relationship tips and you’ll be marching down the aisle in no time! This goes for all of you single ladies out there too.

You know we’re all rooting for you, ever since that heartbreaking split a few years back; and we’ve all been watching you hop and skip from great catch to fizzled romance. So Jen, it’s time to make some changes that will get you to the altar and keep you basking in true love for years to come. And now that you’re house-hunting, this is the perfect time to take these simple steps toward fulfilling your heart’s desire.

1-      Find a Home with the Master Bedroom in the Relationship Quadrant

Walk up to your new home and open the front door. Stand in the doorway facing in and locate the master bedroom. Is it in the far back right hand corner of the floor plan? If it isn’t, just shut the door and keep looking! This isn’t the home that will ensure many years of lovey-dovey togetherness.

2-      Place your Bed in the Future Quadrant

Once you’ve found the perfect home, with the master bedroom in the Relationship Quadrant, the next step is to perfectly place your bed with the intention for a long and lasting romance. So, stand in the doorway to your bedroom looking in. The center area of the wall opposite the door is where you will find the Future Quadrant. Place your bed in this area and the message you’ll be sending the Universe is that you truly desire a love that lasts a lifetime.

3-      Pick out Two Nightstands

Jen, it seems to me that you like the strong, independent types, so no “matchy-matchy” for you. Pick out two nightstands that are equal in volume but not identical and you’ll be setting the tone for a relationship that enjoys each other’s individualities. And in case I’m mistaken about your taste in partners, just make sure to have two nightstands that match your relationship style. If you want to stop being a lonely single girl, you’ve got to set the intention that you’ve got room for a partner in your life and that you’re willing to share some “drawers” together!

4-      Balance Your Elements

Now this step I highly recommend for Relationship Bliss. You and Justin should get your Element Test results so that you can add decorative images, colors and objects to your bedroom that balance both of you as a couple. He looks like he’s got a lot of Fire Element and you don’t want your bedroom to turn into a bonfire! I actually also recommend this for the rest of your home as well, since the more time you love birds spend nesting together the more chance that your home will affect your bliss.

5-      Make it a Retreat for the Senses

I know you’re both madly in love, but there are just two things you should be doing in your Master Bedroom, and one of them is re-energizing for your hectic, premier hopping, movie filming life on the go. Make sure your bedroom is a space where love and rest are both encouraged in a gender-neutral yet sensually pleasing way with candles, lush fabrics, soft cushions, and lots of pairs to emphasize your desire to be a couple.

6-      Write your WE letters to each other

And Jen, last but not least, the piece de resistance, write your Love – WE – Letters to each other. Let Justin know just what you adore about your life with him and sweetly ask him to do the same for you. Once you’ve got those letters, place them in the top drawer of the nightstand that’s in the back right corner of your bedroom. Just think, you’ll be able to read them to each other on those special nights to come!

I’ve got my fingers crossed for you Jen but follow my tips and I know you’ll be hearing wedding bells in your future. Good luck and Good Feng Shui!

Carolyn T – Feng Shui Matchmaker


Expert Feng Shui Consultations: Is this the Future?

Feng Shui has been evolving for thousands of years. Having been trained in the Pyramid School founded by Nancilee Wydra, which takes a decidedly scientific approach to the application of Feng Shui, I too have continued to evolve and grow in my understanding of the intricacies and depths of this discipline. Human behavior and our understanding of it is in continual flux, so it is only natural that this art that is based on the Five Feng Shui Elements found in nature should also continue on its path towards the future.

Long Distance Feng Shui - Wave of the Future

In a recent online discussion about our role as Feng Shui consultants, we all agreed that our most important goal was to lead our clients to become more aware and intentional in the use of their spaces. In the research that I conducted prior to publishing my book about bedroom feng shui, I came to the conclusion that there is much more to our relationship with our spaces than we understand on a conscious level. The other important aspect of this conversation was that it was actually happening in real time, in a medium that we are all growing more accustomed to — the Web. And what a great symbolism, considering the fact that in the Tao tradition that influences traditional Feng Shui the belief is that we are all connected. That becomes truer by the minute with the immediate connections we can form with this burgeoning means of expression.

In my early years of consulting I was adamant about being in the space with my clients. The act of physically walking through a client’s bedroom or office was as integral to the experience as asking questions and getting to know their intentions and desires. In a few instances, as a way of assisting clients at a distance, I was able to consult via photographs and floor plans. This method never felt complete unless there were vast amounts of detailed floor to ceiling pictures, and many questions about the space already answered via email or telephone. Then technology came to my aid, and the next evolution in my Feng Shui practice was launched. And I mean that in a quite literal way.

Once I receive the answers to a Feng Shui Element Test, usually via an email prior to our consultation date, we are ready to jump in with both feet towards what I consider the future democratization of the conscious use of space – the internet consultation via that wonderful application called skype. Now, my eyes actually take in the space in much the same way as being there in person. And, I’m almost happy to admit, they see with even more focus what is going on in each Bagua Quadrant. I can hone in just like a zoom lense on a camera.

The absolute best part of this new found method is that I can actually be a part of the actions taken by the client based on my direction. Such was the case with a recent client as I watched as she scurried all over her home (off camera some of the time) to find the objects that would optimize each quadrant. I was even able to give her indications when I thought an image should be placed a little higher or lower on the wall. I could see the changes in energy as they happened! This was extremely exciting, as for the most part my clients receive my instructions and then I walk away and allow them to intervene in their space all on their own. It was an absolute rush! The last time I had this much fun with Feng Shui was when I had a client ask if I would help her move her furniture around. Actually, come to think of it, this was even more fun since I wasn’t involved in any heavy lifting!

So, if you ask me if Feng Shui will continue to evolve, I will of course answer with a very decisive YES. Will I continue to evolve with it? Absolutely! Just as Target took on the noble task of supplying good design for the masses, I too have embraced great Feng Shui for everyone with access to the World Wide Web! So, is this the Future of Feng Shui? You betcha!