Building in harmony with nature is the primary concept behind feng shui, says Gisela H. Stehr, director of Seattle’s Emerald Feng Shui Institute and author of Feng Shui for Life: Connecting the Dots. This Chinese system explores the connection between the self and the environment with the goal of achieving a nurturing, reciprocal cycle of positive energy flow (known as “qi” or “chi”) between a site, a building and a person. “The people living in the Pacific Northwest are largely concerned about maintaining a healthy balance between man-made and natural environments, and feng shui provides us with the tools to do just that,” she says. When asked for her top 10 “tools” to apply to any Northwest home, Stehr offers only nine, citing the auspicious number as representing the highest level of positive qi within the home.
2. Provide colors, lighting and decorative elements to support the flow of qi based on the homeowner’s personal preferences and tastes.
3. Avoid placing large openings directly opposite to the entrance into a room or into the space in general, and don’t place stairs directly opposite to the main entrance, because this directs energy out of the house.
4. Clearly differentiate between a pathway and a room, a space to be in and to relax in, and between public and private rooms/areas. Each of these distinctions gives a sense of place, which offers protection to the homeowner.
5. Walls that are uninterrupted by any openings, windows or doors provide a protected space to place seating or a bed.
6. In spaces occupied for longer periods of time, whether for relaxation or work, be sure not to place a chair, bed or other seating opposite a door, in the direct pathway through the room or with the back to the door. Placing a door behind the homeowner leads to a feeling of unease, as the lack of protection affects the homeowner’s well-being.
7. A living plant is desirable in frequently occupied rooms as plants can help clear and balance qi.
8. Avoid clutter as it represents an obstruction to the healthy flow of qi.
9. Avoid disproportionately high ceilings as they can create vortexes of unsettling energy.