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Decorate With Chi: Feng Shui for Health and a Better Life

This may seem like an extreme, confusing example of the effect decor and home layouts have on our health and energy patterns, but ancient Feng Shui practices suggest it as a simple matter of fact:
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Like a roiling tornado tearing through the calmest of suburbs, the spiral staircase inhales and uproots energy in its path, spewing chaos in its wake.

This may seem like an extreme, confusing example of the effect decor and home layouts have on our health and energy patterns, but ancient Feng Shui practices suggest it as a simple matter of fact:

"Curved staircases are best. Spiral staircases, resembling corkscrews boring into a house, are the worst," wrote Kathryn Weber of RedLotusLetter. "They become even worse if they are placed in the center of the house or by the front door."

Beyond the mere spiral staircase, Feng Shui asserts that just as humans have an energy or life-force -- referred to as Chi in Chinese medicine -- running through their bodies, all homes and spaces also contain the same flow of energy in the form of Feng Shui. This energy can be hindered or heightened depending upon the placement of certain decor in the home, and is believed to have an impact on not only residents' emotional state and moods, but also their health. Before you start worrying that your home might be impacting your health negatively, however, know that simple changes can be made that don't require a total move or remodel.

To Begin: Discover the Bagua Map

Originating from the I Ching, the Bagua represents the nine energy centers of the home and specific rooms. These energy centers correspond to the specific areas in our lives such as health and family, wealth and prosperity and others listed on the map above. To discover which areas correspond to each aspect, stand at the "Entrance Quadrant," aka, the front door, of your home or apartment with the map above parallel to the floor and the "Entrance Quadrant" touching your stomach. This will show where the areas in each quadrant of the map fall in your home, so you can then begin to organize and place objects in each of the spaces that magnify or correct its Chi.

In some cases, you'll want to use the Bagua Map on specific rooms; if so, simply stand at the entryway of the room of your choice, and split it up into the quadrants the same way you would the entire house. According to

"If your home is not a rectangle or square, you may be missing areas of the Bagua. If this is the case, you can do a mini-Bagua for each room of your home and enhance the wealth corner of each room. Treat the main entrance to the room like you would the front door of the home and lay the Bagua accordingly. This energetically brings back into the space the missing area."

Health: The Center of the Bagua

The Health section of the Bagua lies at its center (sometimes also in the center-left) and touches all quadrants, reiterating the point that without health one cannot be truly balanced in life. This area also represents a "grounded" nature and should be filled with Earth tones and stabilizing features such as paintings of landscapes and brown, yellow, or other Earth-tone paints. also recommends avoiding placing water images and/or tones, such as mirrors, in the center area since "the floaty and unstable quality of water will destabilize the earth element."

The Elements and Health

Along with purifying and reorganizing the center Bagua, it is important to pay attention to the use and placement of the elements throughout the home, as too much of some elements can derail efforts to increase Chi in an area and increase problematic health symptoms. Feng Shui recognizes five elements: fire, water, earth, wood and metal, with each working to harness a specific energy.


Fire encourages boldness and represents enthusiasm and leadership. With a perfect balance, fire can be an extremely inspiring force, but too much fire can cause anger, irritability and aggression. Lack of fire creates an opposing effect, causing low self-esteem, lack of inspiration and coldness. Candles, incandescent lighting and sunlight add fire to an area, while water tones such as blues minimize it.


Wood represents strength, intuition, creativity and expansion. Too much wood in the form of plants, furniture and paper can create stubbornness and inflexibility, while a lack of wood can cause depression and result in a lack of creativity.


Metal deals with the mental and intellectual, and is often represented by oval shapes, objects made with metal, stones and white or gray pastel colors. Too much metal can bring about negative thoughts, impulsive speaking tendencies and a chaotic mind, while a lack of metal can cause quietness, lack of focus and loss of motivation.


Earth, as reflected by the center Bagua, represents grounding and stability. An overabundance can create a heavy seriousness and boredom, while a lack can lead to chaos and disorganization. Rectangular paintings, shapes and images of landscapes represent Earth, as well as plants and any object having green, brown, yellow or gold tones.


The water element highlights emotions and spirituality and can heighten wisdom and inspiration. Too much water can lead to a sense of feeling overwhelmed, as if you were "drowning," while a lack of water can result in stress and loneliness. Water can be brought to a space through blue, green and purple tones, as well as mirrors and fountains.

Common Feng Shui Mistakes and Corrections

Door Opening to a Wall

Doors that open directly into a wall can create the feeling of being "blocked," according to To correct this, Houzz recommends hanging artwork that draws the eye in, and that while mirrors are typically used as a "cure" in Feng Shui, one should avoid hanging a mirror reflecting back out the door, since this is essentially shuttling energy outside.

Heavy Objects Hanging Overhead

Heavy objects can be anything from lamps to chandeliers, and while they can add a certain modern look to a space, they can also create the subconscious stress of "pushing down" and worry over the object falling. Houzz recommends moving furniture such as tables or beds from directly underneath large hanging objects.

Stairs Facing a Door

Stairs are often referred to as "raging rivers" in Feng Shui because of their powerful energy-carrying properties. In the case of stairs leading down to a doorway, this essentially means all the energy of the house is flowing down the stairs and out the door -- a counterproductive situation.

To counteract this effect, it is recommended to hang a mirror that reflects back to the stairs in order to reflect the energy back inside. It is also recommended to avoid hanging artwork in a descending fashion down stairwells, as this increases the energy flow to the door below.

While implementing Feng Shui across an entire house may seem like a chore that could potentially cost a small fortune, making simple changes with mirrors and splashes of colors representing the elements in specified quadrants can be a cheap step in the right direction.