Most of the information available on Feng Shui is very simplified. It is often presented in the form of oriental principles out of context, mixed with the basic interior design horse sense of the west, to form a hybrid that many professional Feng Shui analysts agree can be as harmful as it is helpful. Feng Shui is more than just choosing certain colors or “getting rid of the clutter” as many books and articles will lead you to believe. In reality, it is an extremely complex system of mathematical formulas that give very specific advice according to the type of house, its distribution and its time of construction. There are no simple answers in Feng Shui, however there is something we can learn from the methods the ancients used to derive these principles.

Real Feng Shui is a system that has been evolving for thousands of years. The concept behind this form of design is the idea that energy or “chi” flows through everything. Feng Shui is an attempt to maximize the flow of positive chi through a space to benefit the lives of people within that environment. Feng Shui is originally based on the I Ching, an ancient Chinese text of mystical origin. Over the years, successive schools of thought have come to dominate this decorative philosophy. As each new movement came to power, they refined the formulas and functions of the previous schools. In this continuous process of refinement, every possible arrangement of objects was tested against the emotional and spiritual reaction of numerous people over thousands of years. These reactions allowed the ancients to slowly improve their diagrams for the placement of objects.

This age-old mathematical formula for designing a stage design appears to be a solid method of improving the quality of a room’s décor. While this may be because the ancients had determined the way chi flows, their real achievement could have been to develop a systematized mathematical representation of a large-scale, long-term psychological study. In trying to determine the flow of energy, they may instead have determined the basic design principles that elicit positive responses in humans, by experimentally testing and recording people’s reactions to different configurations of objects.

True Feng Shui is extraordinarily specific and complex. The only way to practice real Feng Shui is to either become a student of this art and thoroughly learn the many principles and subtleties it requires, or to hire a professional to do an analysis and review your home. Either way, using this design style requires great sacrifice and is out of the realm of most people’s time and money budgets.

However, Feng Shui does teach us something that is very useful when decorating your home. The ancient thinkers who developed this idea derived it simply by paying attention to the feel of objects in different spaces. This is a process that everyone has at their fingertips. Everyone has tastes, everyone has feelings. By simply getting in touch with your inner critic, you can become the source of your own personal Feng Shui. No matter how specific you were, a thousand-year-old philosopher is not going to understand the spiritual and emotional nuances of you, your family, and your home as well as you do. By using strategy rather than the Feng Shui formula, you can develop a highly personalized design that is a true expression of yourself.

Walk into a room and see how it makes you feel. Notice the colors, the objects, and their location. What do they evoke in you? Is the room comfortable? Is it calming or invigorating? Maybe there is something wrong with the room, even if you can’t tell exactly what it is, record that feeling. If you are attentive, you will begin to be sensitive to the psychological influences that location and design have on your own mind.


Colors have very strong and individual effects on people. Different shades will have radically different results on people’s mental behavior. Dark colors can be relaxing or depressing, light colors can be uplifting or upsetting, and extreme colors can be uplifting or aggravating. Pay attention to how these colors make you feel. When visiting other people’s homes, or even their stores or offices, pay attention to the effect walking into a room has on you. Sometimes you will walk into a space and feel naturally relaxed. Other places can have a negative effect, making you feel uncomfortable or agitated for no apparent reason. Remember the colors and shades in these rooms, especially if you have a particularly strong response to one.

Colors also affect the nature of interactions, and when you enter a new space, you should always pay attention to the way people behave with each other. If there is a room in your house where people tend to argue, re-evaluate the colors in that room. Bright or extreme colors can irritate people’s eyes and increase their metabolism, making them more likely to fight. Darker rooms can put people in a bad mood and make them lethargic. Color and location aren’t the only things that influence interactions, but by paying attention, you may be able to understand the subtle influence it can have.


In traditional Feng Shui, the goal is to maximize the flow of positive chi in an area. While you probably won’t be able to detect the essence of energy in a space, you can enhance the sense of flowing in a room by paying attention to the way people and objects move through the space.

The flow you want to achieve is at the core of the room. You want there to be easy access for people moving around the room, as well as getting in and out of it. You want objects to be able to be moved from your storage, put to use, and back without adding to the clutter. This type of flow is a mix of organization and design that focuses on removing blockages and allowing easy movement through each area.

You can feel a room flow just by walking into it. There are small air currents that run through all spaces. We generally do not notice these currents, however, using your intuition, you can barely perceive this air. The difference between major and minor currents will translate in your mind as a major or minor flow. As always, be sensitive to the subtleties of space.


It is important to allow yourself to be wrong. If you don’t make mistakes, you won’t learn anything. Pay attention to the emotional variations you feel when placing different decorations and colors in different spaces. At a certain point, stop and just exist in the room, remaining attentive to the feeling of space. From time to time, make small changes and observe the emotional and interactive differences.

If you don’t have the time or strength to constantly move furniture and furniture, try visualizing different scenarios. Sit in a quiet place, close your eyes and imagine the room in a different style. Imagine yourself in the room and try to incorporate every detail of the room into the environment. Feel how your emotions respond to such a scenario. Pay attention to any problems you may feel. Allow yourself to access the subconscious of your mind and trust your natural inclinations as it will detect problems and solutions that you will not consciously understand. Use color charts and pictures to help with the imagination process.

Feng Shui is a very respectable form of interior decoration with a long and rich history. However, it was originally based on simple trial and error, as ancient Chinese thinkers explored the different ways that positioning and design can affect the subtlest workings of the human mind. Today you can try to recreate that method, experimenting with yourself and your surroundings to produce a room that will affect you and your family in a positive way. While you may not achieve the accuracy of the ancients on your first try, each attempt will educate you on the style and design that best suits you, as well as how it affects you. Exploring this further can allow you a creative outlet that allows you to get in touch with the basic nature of the art that exists within you.

Copyright Joey Lewitin 2005

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