Welcome to my blog!

Thank you for visiting my blog!

I give very thorough advice in my books, lectures and consultations, but I encounter new feng shui problems all the time. Here, I’ll be sharing new solutions I come across and answering questions you might have.

If you have a question that you can’t find the answer to (please use the search box at the bottom of this page to see if I’ve covered the subject before), leave a comment here and I’ll consider writing a future blog post about it.

Feng Shui & Gift Giving (and Receiving)

These knickknacks were donated by my publisher’s staff for the purpose of this photo that appeared in “Feng Shui for Hawaii.” And, yes, they reported that MANY were “guilt gifts.”

It’s lovely to give & receive gifts, but you don’t want to give something that will just be clutter for the recipient. Food, money, and flowers are all gifts that don’t have to be dusted.

Don’t be guilty of giving someone a “guilt gift” which is an object that they are keeping only because you’ll see it when you come to visit. And likewise don’t keep a guilt gift, if that’s really what it is. The objects you have on display in your home should be there because you use them or love them—no other reason.

Clothing is often a welcome gift, if it’s truly apparel that will be worn and appreciated. However, never give clothing with bold stripes since stripes portend arguments.

gifts_flowerbowls

I find these vintage pottery bowls (the green from Metlox Pottery, the white from Hull Pottery — the ONLY Hull item I like) quite charming. Other bowls might seem similar to someone less passionate about pottery, but would make poor additions to my collection. It’s always wise to ask a collector before buying something for them.

If you are giving a gift to a collector to add to their collection, make very sure that it will be a welcome addition. Remember, a gift does not have to be a surprise to be welcomed. I’m a passionate collector of vintage pottery—certain vintage pottery. Most vintage pottery is not to my taste—in fact I consider much of it quite tacky. Hull Pottery is a great example of this for me. I don’t care for any of it—it looks like saccharine Roseville to me. But there’s one exception—a sublime, matte glaze, white bowl in the shape of a large tropical leaf. Its charm is explained by the fact that Hull didn’t design it—they bought the mold from Metlox Pottery. It was part of Metlox’s “Leaves of Enchantment” series, which was made in glossy green. Hull changed the bottom slightly and that was all. Then after awhile they couldn’t resist making it tacky—really tacky. They put one bunch of purple grapes in the bottom and made it glossy—that version gags me. Oh, I have digressed—pottery does that to me.

If you need more motivation than this to be cautious about giving gifts that could become clutter, read Clear Your Clutter With Feng Shui by Karen Kingston. Here is my review of the title. It’s a very powerful book!

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“My Husband Will Love You” — Feng Shui & Masculine Energy

bedpillows

I’ve seen plenty of beds where 60% of the surface is covered with pillows, and while this is definitely an improvement over that—there are still more pillows than two people would need to sleep.

“My husband will love you.” I’ve heard those exact words three times in my career. The first two times were when I suggested to wives that they reduce the number of decorative pillows on their bed by half.

The third time occurred recently, when I was almost through with a consultation in a home under construction where the first coat of paint was soon to go over the sheetrock. I hadn’t noticed anything wrong with the ceiling so I hadn’t commented on it. My client casually mentioned that beams were going to be installed on the ceiling. I said, “Fake beams?” She misunderstood and said, “No, they’re going to be real wood.” I explained that what I meant by “fake beams” were beams that didn’t really hold up the ceiling.

ceilingbeams

These beams happen to be structurally necessary. (Fake beams are usually installed below sheetrock. It makes them scream “fake.”) Necessary or not, they exude a chopping energy, so certainly don’t add them if you don’t need them.

She innocently asked, “Is there something wrong with beams?”  I illustrated with my hands how beams chop up the energy in a room and cause harsh energy directly below them. The color drained out of her face—it became obvious that she and her husband had “discussed” this many times. She wanted the beams—he didn’t. I then started doing what I sometimes have to do—talk somebody into something that’s good for them. Finally, I convinced her not to install the fake beams. She said those five words, but she still had a shell-shocked look on her face.

Just a few days ago I consulted for a couple whose home is being renovated. I briefly met the husband, then proceeded to consult with the wife. At the end of the consultation we were outside discussing options for making a more direct stairway to approach the front door. The existing stairs meandered a good bit, and I finally said, “I think the best thing is to turn a switch in your head and see the existing stairs as good, because the energy doesn’t come charging quickly up the stairs in a straight line. Just cover the bare cement blocks with some stone facing and dress the area up a bit. It’s actually charming like it is.” Her response was, “George will love it!”

The way to a man’s heart is (usually) through simplicity.

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New Wives Tales—Discovering an Excellent Feng Shui Book

Grace Ho, the Japanese wife of a Chinese businessman, is an author I’ve recently discovered. I just got her book One Minute Feng Shui for Prosperity and I’m now a big fan. It was published in 2010 by a small California publisher, so it slipped beneath my radar—until I saw it in the feng shui section at Big Island BookBuyers in Hilo. It’s primarily Compass School, but I’ve learned that those kinds of books usually have a ton of information that has nothing to do with a compass—and just so with this book. Ho suggests going to each corner of each room of your space and saying, “Thank you, I love you.” (She recommends doing that in hotel rooms also.) I’ve never before heard of doing that, but it instantly felt right.

An example of noren, above a bath house entryway in Japan. Photo by udono via Wikimedia.

An example of noren, above a bath house entryway in Japan. Photo by udono via Wikimedia.

So much of Ho’s book feels right. I often recommend noren (the short, slitted Japanese curtains) and this is the first feng shui book where I’ve seen them recommended—to hide items in lower cabinets that don’t have a cabinet door. She does not believe in what she calls “feng shui novelties”—such as three-legged frogs with coins in their mouths, etc., saying, “…it is not the consumer who bought these novelties [who] becomes rich, but it is the salesman who makes money from the consumers.”

One of the most likeable things about Grace Ho is her refreshingly gracious attitude toward other schools of feng shui. Some authors are very deprecating when discussing other schools, but Grace lives up to her name. It’s also refreshing to see the Japanese name included for things such as bagua mirror (Hakke-kyo) and Black Tortoise (Gen-Bu). She also shows a correct yin/yang symbol and explains how it differs from incorrect representations—very helpful!

Likewise helpful is her motto—“There is always a solution.” She demonstrates her practicality by listing the best Compass School directions for placing the head of your bed (referred to as pillow direction). She lists: First Best, Second Best, Third Best, and Fourth Best. It’s obvious that her advice is grounded in real-world experience where people have limited options. Another example of her practicality is the fabulous index. A good index should serve as an entry point into the book and hers does just that.

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Feng Shui to Sell Your Home – Part 3: It’s In the Details

This is the final post in my series on feng shui and selling your home. (If you haven’t already, read Part One, “What’s In, What’s Out” and Part Two, “Energy Flow.”) Today’s post concerns little details that will emphasize yang energy in the home. This is desirable because a sale is a yang activity.

The term “staging” in real estate means that the house has been decorated to look its best, regardless of how it looked before being put up for sale. It would be nice if all homes looked their best at all times, but that’s not reality. Regardless of how your home looked before it was for sale, it needs to start looking perfect as soon as you’ve decided to sell it. Your goal is to make potential buyers’ jaws drop. Beauty so stunning that they almost faint and quickly say, “I’ll take it.” Or better yet, “I’ll pay more.” Try not to stop at anything short of perfection. That goal is too high to achieve, but keep aiming for it. It’s now your job, and the payoff is really big. Take it at least as seriously as an eight-hour-a-day job.

Most people experience architectural detail subconsciously, but haven’t trained themselves in seeing it consciously. These are the parts of a home that really lend it its specific character. They tend to be “selling points.” If you think that you don’t recognize architectural detail, then ask someone such as an architect, builder or interior designer, even a friend who simply knows the subject better than you. Appropriately emphasize architectural detail when possible—perhaps just by cleaning a complicated but grand stone fireplace, or painting a built-in feature a matching color to something in the room. Historic authenticity has a vibe to it that can never quite be in a reproduction. If your house is even twenty years old, it most likely has something about its design or detailing that dates it. Don’t carelessly erase that. Appropriately emphasized architectural features give a home an authentic charm that works wonders on potential buyers. They are literally charmed, but may not know exactly why.

The subtle things matter. Pay close attention to small things like making sure to lubricate hinges. Repair anything that could use any kind of repairing, no matter how minor. Take the time to set all the grooves in the heads of the screws in the light-switch plate and electrical socket covers identically. If you set them vertically throughout the house, you are tilting the scale a bit more in the yang direction because vertical is a more yang and active direction than horizontal. If all the screws are already nicely set horizontally, you don’t need to change them. The fact that they are all the same is the main thing. It simplifies the look, making it more yang. It also subtly says, “The last person to touch these was a professional,” because they’re often the only ones who will set the screws identically. Buyers’ eyes notice these details, even subliminally. The light-switch plate screws are especially important because they are usually closer to eye level.

switchplates

The switchplate on the left has misaligned, crooked-set screwheads. The plate on the right has nicely aligned screwheads which are also set vertically, a very yang orientation.

Speaking of subtle, there’s a reason why so many houses for sale have white interiors. Bold and dramatic colors can stop real estate sales. They’re too in-your-face for something so decidedly personal. Much of what attracts chi energy is vision related. If your eye is getting a big dose of a color that you don’t really care for, it does make an impression. You’re not tempted to linger. Part of you is consciously or subconsciously trying to paint it out. Bold colors and wall murals usually get painted over by the new owner. Save them the trouble. You’ll have a faster sale. That’s the bottom line. You’re not going to continue living there. Get used to it. (That also encourages the yang energy that says, “I am moving out; parts of my personality are not permanently stuck here.”)

Don’t use over-the-top colors anywhere, inside or out, when a building is for sale. Frankly, inside a home, they’re not a good idea any time. They’re likely to bring too much drama into your life. The designer Clodagh says, “Kindergarten colors are hard to live with. Colors should not be intrusive. I prefer subtle colors, not-quite colors…”  Leave drama for the soap operas. Off-white may seem boring, but it sure sells a lot of houses.

Emphasize yang in a place for sale with fresh cut flower arrangements or silk flowers. Real flowers are best because of their freshness, but artificial plants are not a problem. They represent a living, growing plant. Use them to create beauty and enhance empty areas, taking care that you don’t over-clutter the home. They must be clean. Take the time to arrange the leaves, and try to imitate nature. The extra effort is worth it. Do not have dried plants in a house that is for sale. They are dead, and they symbolize death, a rather ultimate yin state.

This arrangement has a good height ratio of vase to plants. The rule is that the vase should (generally) be about one third the height of the full arrangement, including the vase. The arrangement also has good relationship energy because there's more than one flower (parakeet heliconia). There's a good yin/yang balance because some of the plants have an bright, upward energy which is balanced by the darker, rounded-leaf foliage of dinnerplate panax. Note that even though some of the plants are pointy, they don't point at people.

This arrangement has a good height ratio of vase to plants. The rule is that the vase should (generally) be about one third the height of the full arrangement, including the vase. The arrangement also has good relationship energy because there’s more than one flower (parakeet heliconia). There’s a good yin/yang balance because some of the plants have an bright, upward energy which is balanced by the darker, rounded-leaf foliage of dinnerplate panax. Note that even though some of the plants are pointy, they don’t point at people.

They might be family to you, but if pets are currently living in the house for sale, they, and their smell and hair, need to be gone any time the place is shown. Also gone, their bed and waste box. That may sound harsh to you owners of wonderful pets, but some people are allergic to certain animals. You shouldn’t say no to those possible transactions. That’s called slamming the door in the face of chi energy. Just because someone has an allergy doesn’t mean they don’t have money. There’s no problem with well-behaved pets outside the house during a showing.

Ask your agent or friends to be very honest if they notice pet smell. You may be used to it. The smell in a house should be fresh—not like animals, and not like mildew. Lingering smells get noticed by buyers, but not in a good way. It’s fine to have a smell of freshly baked, delicious food. You’ll probably make chi energy linger, perhaps hoping for some cake.

Admittedly, aiming for perfection can be frustrating and overwhelming for someone in a home that needs a lot of work. If you know you can’t get it all done, just make sure it’s very clean throughout, and then work primarily on the first impression. Try for simplicity and charm. Hopefully that will cause people (chi energy) to smile. Attracting chi energy is what it’s all about.

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Feng Shui to Sell Your Home – Part 2: Energy Flow

Here is Part Two of my blog series on feng shui and home selling. This post will address energy flow, specifically the problem of it stagnating, moving too quickly or draining away altogether. None of those are positive for a sale.

Any part of a building that seems unusually dark is probably harboring stagnant energy. That’s a problem when you’re trying to sell since your goal is movement: the transfer of the deed, your physical move out of the home to another one. A dark, stagnant area can be a whole room, part of a room or most of a house. Brighten it with higher-wattage bulbs or lighter paint. Also try to bring fresh air to it. Use a fan if necessary; however, put the fan away when the place is being shown.

The opposite problem to an accumulation of stagnant energy is too much moving energy. Long hallways cause energy to move quickly and become harsh. Think of a bullet guided by a long, straight rifle barrel. Slow the fast energy by using:

  • carpet and/or rugs;
  • good lighting, preferably adjustable; or
  • tactile art—art that invites touch. Pictures without glass over them are preferable to those with glass in this instance.
The toilet drain hole is the easiest one to hide, because all you have to do is close the lid. There are now toilet lids with self-closing hinges, like this one.

The toilet is the largest drain, but also the easiest one to hide, because all you have to do is close the lid. There are now toilet lids with self-closing hinges, like this one.

Drains are a big problem in feng shui. I talk about them extensively in Feng Shui for Love and Money. Drains represent money draining away, because water symbolizes money. In a house for sale, de-emphasize drains appropriately. The most appropriate way to de-emphasize the largest drain in your home (yes, I’m referring to the toilet) is to put the lid down. That’s what it’s made for. Simply putting the toilet lid down helps the vibration of any bathroom immeasurably. To make that symbolic sealing of the drain more effective, do it before you flush. That way, you’re not exposing yourself to a flush-down, drain-away vibration.

Other drains are less important because they’re smaller and less noticeable. A shower that has a curtain or doors can easily hide its drain—simply move the shower curtain or sliding door toward the drain side, so the drain isn’t immediately seen. I recommend that the curtain or door be somewhat open so that the room feels larger. If the shower has a hinged door, however, it should be closed during showings. Sink drains are the smallest and least important. They should just look ready for daily use. That way you’re not drawing undue attention to them.

This bathroom does not touch an outside wall so it is considered a center bathroom, even though it is not in the exact center of the home.

This bathroom does not touch an outside wall so it is considered a center bathroom, even though it is not in the exact center of the home.

Bathrooms are problematic to begin with because of all the drains and their extremely watery nature, which is very yin. (Remember, a sale is a yang activity.) An interior bathroom, though, is pretty much a feng shui disaster. (I have covered this problem in Feng Shui for Love and Money as well as more briefly in other of my books.) If you have a bathroom that is not adjacent to an outside wall, it almost certainly will cause problems in your life. I often see this in homes that are hard to sell. Most of the remedies I usually recommend in this situation look too strange in a home for sale. Therefore, keep the door closed during showings instead. Use green or yellow accents inside—towels, rug, etcetera—green represents wood and yellow represents earth; those elements counteract water, symbolically absorbing it. If possible, put a mirror outside the bathroom so that it’s reflecting energy away from the bathroom.

The next and final post in this series will cover the finer details that will help foster a welcoming environment for chi energy and emphasize the yang energy in the home.

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