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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.

Winston Churchill, Feng Shui and Dining Chairs

This American-made Victorian chair from the mid-1800s has a rounded back—representing the Turtle behind—and the two nicely padded arms represent the Tiger and Dragon. It originally had metal rollers, which made it look disconnected from the floor. We removed those, boxed, labeled and stored them away. If you can easily take an old chair (or couch) off its rollers, then do so. You’ll have a much more grounded piece of furniture.

Here’s a chair of ours that I love, which, although it is in our living room, meets the criteria Churchill lists. 

Ten years ago, I used to start my lectures with these words: “Winston Churchill said, ‘We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us.’”

That was around the time that Feng Shui for Hawaii was published, and that quote is on page two of the book. I use it to express the universality and cross-culturalness of the understanding that the shape of buildings affects the occupants.

I recently came across a lengthier Churchill quote that’s spot-on for the feng shui take on dining chairs:

“The Dining Room has certain very marked requisites. First, it should be comfortable and give support to the body when sitting up straight: it should certainly have arms, which are an enormous comfort when sitting at meals. Second, it should be compact. One does not want the Dining Room chair spreading itself, or its legs, or its arms, as if it were a plant, but an essentially upright structure with the arms and the back almost perpendicularly over the legs. This enables the chairs to be put together if need be, which is often more sociable, while at the same time the arms prevent overcrowding and elbowing.”

I really like his phrase “enormous comfort” and the bit about being more sociable (no elbowing). And, once again, the main thing I get from all this is the universality (and common sense) of form school feng shui suggestions.

Feng Shui & Dragon Imagery: Part Two, Exteriors

I’m proud of this little arrangement. I propped up the dragon so it would be a little higher than the tiger, which it should be.

As I mentioned in the previous post, dragons are the most protective of mythical beings in feng shui, and there are appropriate places to put imagery featuring dragons.

For outside your home, imagine yourself seated in a comfortable armchair—then imagine that you are your house, seated in the landscape. The two most ancient protective beings in feng shui are the dragon and the tiger, and as you are sitting—the dragon is on your left side and the tiger is on your right side. Because these two archetypal energies were the only two at first (the turtle and red bird came later in the evolution of feng shui) they met around back of the house. They are on each of the two side sides of your house (meaning the sides that are not the front and back) and their faces look toward the road—so that they can watch out and protect you. Where they meet around back is where they are having sex (to put it bluntly). In the most ancient feng shui, that was the ideal spot to place a tomb or build a house. If you are sitting there looking out onto the world, the dragon is on your left and the tiger is on your right—again—as you are sitting there.

In the background scroll, the dragon is coming from the right, and the tiger is coming from the left.

That’s the best way to use dragon imagery outside your home—to the left of the front door, as you are standing in the open front door, looking out to the rest of the world. (Now, if you are a guest standing at your front door ready to ring the doorbell—the dragon would be on that person’s right—I hope you understand the difference there.) That’s really all there is to it when placing dragon images outside your home: Always have the head facing toward the road and put it beside the house on what’s known as “the dragon side.” That’s the side of the house to put items that represent dragons, and items that activate that side of the house. (Movement is what activates best, so a clothesline or parking space work well, since they both involve human movement, or activity.)

The dragon image can go anywhere along that side of your property, but if you place it toward the back of that property line, you’re in the “Relationship Area” of your lot. And that area is where two living beings should be represented, not just one—all alone! So if the dragon image is in the back third of that property line—have two dragons, not just one.

Feng Shui & Dragon Imagery: Part One, Interiors

A dragon wall-hanging is a splendid art piece for your living room or office.

Dragons are the most protective of all the mythical beings in feng shui, and as such they are to be highly respected. It’s considered to be disrespectful to walk on a dragon, so dragons on carpets are a no-no—unless the carpet is hung on the wall as an art piece. Likewise, a floor mosaic of a dragon isn’t good, unless it’s in the deep part of a pool, where no one ever walks. (Chinese dragons, the type we mean in feng shui, are associated with water—they’re not the fire-breathing type of Western lore—so there is no fire-under-water situation created here.)

Years ago, I went to a Tibetan store in San Francisco and was entranced by their small carpets (about 15 by 15 inches) that are meant to go on top of the short wooden stools that are common seating in Tibet. I never did buy one, and now I’m glad I didn’t—putting your okole (rear end) on a dragon wouldn’t be considered respectful.

This dragon figurine has a pose similar to the vibrantly colored dragon that graces the cover of my book “Feng Shui for Hawaii Gardens.”

Dragons are yang—very yang—so it’s best not to have their images in a bedroom, which should emphasize things that are yin (because rest is yin). I once consulted for a gentleman in Hamakua on Hawaii Island, and his headboard was a very complicated, hand-carved affair from China with lots of dragons and lots of open spaces. At first, I was concentrating on the open spaces because they were the most obvious thing. (Headboards should be solid because they represent backing and the backing should be solid—no holes.) Then I realized how many dragons were carved into it and I told him that it would be best just to part with it and let it be someone else’s problem. I expected resistance, but thankfully he said it was already listed on Craigslist, but that he hadn’t had a buyer yet. One important takeaway from this is—just because something is made in Asia, doesn’t assure that it’s good feng shui.

If you have a favorite dragon image in your home, one great place for it is to the left of your favorite lounge chair. That’s to your left as you are sitting in the chair. Be sure to read my upcoming Part Two post on dragons where I’ll explain why this positioning is best—it’s the same for outside your home—and more. In the meantime, my colleague Elliot Tanzer has LOTS to say about interior dragons. I highly recommend his advice, found on his website.

Feng Shui & Abstract Art

Peaceful abstract art is the only kind acceptable for a home or office. Image: Background vector created by Kjpargeter – Freepik.com

Abstract art came into being in the twentieth century—that in itself should tell you something. Representational art has been around since the dawn of humanity, and (depending on what it’s depicting) is usually okay in feng shui. You wouldn’t want to have art in your home that is gruesome or shows suffering or sadness—save that kind of thing for museums, where you can just quickly walk away from it.

The only abstract art that is fine to have in homes (and offices) is that which has an unmistakably peaceful feeling—otherwise leave it in the gallery or museum. A large amount of abstract art does not look peaceful—in fact it looks the opposite—disturbing, restless, chaotic. Don’t bring that sort of feeling into your home.

Just the other day, I had a telephone consultation for a client in Northern California. The largest piece of artwork in the whole house was a large abstract painting in the living room. It consisted of random splatters of red, blue, and black paint. I gasped when I saw the picture.

A lot of abstract art uses intense color and/or chaotic shapes and brushstrokes, and it generally looks a bit of a mess. NOT the type of energy you want in your home. My blog-collaborator, Dawn, created this “masterpiece” to illustrate what I mean.

The chaoticness of the painting wasn’t the only problem. The colors symbolized opposing elements—Fire and Water, all mixed together in a big mess. Before the consultation, I had scraped my mind for any place in the home where it would be okay, but with that combination of colors, there just wasn’t anywhere.

I thought, “How am I going to tell this person that that’s no good in feng shui? What if it’s expensive? What if it has sentimental value?” Well, I was raised to be an honest person, and my clients hire me to hear honesty, so I knew I was going to have to say something. When we got to discussing the living room, I prefaced what I had to say by saying, “This is kinda hard to say…” She jumped right in and said, “You can tell me anything.” So I did, and to my great relief she took it well. “Oh, I’ll just get rid of that!” I never expected it to be so easy. I told her I was a Libra and I hate to hurt people’s feelings, and she said she was a Libra too. The whole consultation went ever so smoothly.

This example of the same type of curtain my client had up comes from Amazon.com, but if you do a web search for “cinched curtain” you’ll turn up a lot of these. If you buy them, don’t use the band to pinch in the curtain.

I got an email from her (and I’ve already added it to the “Words of Appreciation” page of my website) after the consultation. She wrote, “Many thanks again, I removed the mish-mash painting from the living room and cut the band on the dining room door and I can’t tell you how immediate the feeling of calmness and relaxation that came over me, it’s really amazing!” That kind of feedback is priceless to me. (The thing about the “band on the dining room door” was that it was a glass door and had a sheer curtain panel held on with tension rods at the top and bottom. There was a wide band of fabric in the middle that made it look like a person with a narrow waist. That’s problematic symbolism—things are getting tight—or if the panel is tied in the middle—my stomach is in knots.)

When I was in my early 20s I went to an art gallery in Washington, D.C., and the first thing, just a few feet inside the door, was a huge painting bigger than me and it was all yellow. I just stood there with my arms by my sides and my palms facing the painting. I was overwhelmed by the power of it and how good it felt. Art can be so powerful—be careful what you put in your home!

Curves & Waves & Angles, Oh My! — More Feng Shui Views of Big Buildings


The simple curve here represents the element Metal.

A simple curve represents the element Metal, but more complicated curves (like waves) represent Water. The two buildings discussed in this article are across the road from each other in Honolulu, specifically in the Kaka‘ako Ward area, right near the building I discussed in Part Two of this blog series. The building in the foreground of this photo, the A‘eo project, has a simple curve at the corner. It’s repeated sixteen times in the open awning. This gives the building the symbolism of Metal (plus the awning is made of metal).

The tall building across the road, the Anaha, is about as wavy a building as I’ve ever seen. The waviness combined with the blue-tinted glass give the building a very strong Water element.


You might say this pool is spreading the wealth (water) around the neighborhood.

There’s a lot of cantilevering going on in the building and that’s a feng shui problem signifying lack of support. Not so good for the residents, but the outside corners of the buildings have no sharp right angles — so it’s a great building to have as a neighbor because it does not create poison arrows.

The cantilevered pool (the bright, pale blue spot jutting out, just below the center of the photo, in case you can’t tell) is quite striking, and would be more so if they allowed skinny dipping, but in addition to the cantilever problem discussed above, there’s the fact that it’s water protruding out. Water represents money, so the symbolism is that money/wealth is leaving the building. It’s the same issue when a building has a fountain with the water flowing away.

The positive way to look at this situation is that the wealth is going out into the neighborhood, helping everybody. (That’s the way I describe a lot of the fountains around the buildings in downtown Honolulu when I give my feng shui walks.)

In addition to the wavy tower, the Anaha complex also has a shorter component (seen in the foreground of this photo) that seems to have very good feng shui. The main element of the short building is Earth because of the strong horizontal design elements. Also, there are no cantilevers so it feels very grounded and supported.


The designers meant this pattern to represent wind, but in feng shui, the curves represent water.

Here’s a look at the punched metal screens of the A‘eo building. The folded screens are placed in a wavy pattern, which the building designers intended to represent wind patterns. (An a‘eo is a Hawaiian bird.) However, there is no feng shui element for air or wind (as there is in some cultures) so the design instead represents water from a feng shui point of view. The Water element is added to a building that already has two other elements represented — Metal (because of all the exposed metal) and Earth (because it’s basically a horizontal building).

In the background of the photo, you can see the tower portion of the A‘eo project, which is almost completed. That building has very little going for it, feng shui-wise. There’s some cantilevering going on, plus it’s not very friendly to its neighbors because of the sharp right angles at the corners. And, as it that wasn’t enough, sharp angles jut out from the sides of the building causing even more poison arrows.