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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.

Feng Shui to Sell Your Home – Part 1: What’s In, What’s Out

I often consult for people who are trying to sell their home. The goals in selling real estate are to do it quickly, harmoniously and for the best price possible. The results of feng shui amaze me. A seller’s agent recently told me, “When the client follows your advice, the place sells within a half a day to a week. When they don’t, it continues to sit on the market.” You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to use feng shui. Most of the principles relate to common sense.

How can feng shui apply to real estate? Well, when selling a home, your goal is for something very yang to happen. You want the property to change title. You want money to change hands. You want movement, not stagnation. So help it happen by emphasizing certain yang aspects or characteristics.

This post is titled “What’s In, What’s Out”—as in, what should you keep in your home and what should you get rid of (or at least hide) to encourage that moving energy. A clean and uncluttered look is often all it takes for a fast sale. When I write a book, I think up a bunch of good words and then get rid of most of them. It’s called editing. Use the same process when deciding which items to leave on display. Less is better. Just leave the highest quality items. A well-made item lifts the vibrations around it. It makes you smile.

This room is ready for a showing—there is a nice flow to the furniture, the room is not too cluttered, but not empty, and the personal possessions are limited to a smattering of nice objects that aren't overly specific to the owners. The bowl of fresh fruit on the table is a nice touch.

This room is ready for a showing—there is a nice flow to the furniture, the room is not too cluttered, but not empty; it is very tidy, and the personal possessions are limited to a smattering of nice objects that aren’t overly specific to the owners. The bowl of fresh fruit on the table is a nice touch.

Let’s start with some of the biggest things you own in the home, the furniture. Of the various furniture scenarios, one of the worst is no furniture. It’s a yin/yang imbalance. Too yang to feel really comfortable, and too yin because the impression is, “No life here—why live here?” An empty house just says “empty.” The buyer is presented with question marks everywhere, and that’s never the best way to say hello to chi energy. You are requiring the buyer to imagine living there, without actually seeing what it looks like to live there. Just because someone is a potential buyer doesn’t mean they’ve got a great imagination. Your goal is to appeal to the broadest spectrum of people. In limiting your prospects to those who have good imaginations, you are limiting the amount of chi energy that your home can attract.

When there is furniture, your job is to present an arrangement (with a limited amount of decorative objects) that looks inevitable—as if angels dropped down out of heaven and put it there for you. Prospective buyers often wonder where to put the couch or bed, yet they know when the furniture arrangement feels comfortable and flows well, even though they may not understand the considerations that went into the arrangement. If the arrangement looks clumsy, it says, “This home is hard to decorate.”

The furniture should look inviting. Imagine a chair or couch to be a person. As you enter the room, they’ve either got their arms open to you or their back to you. Open arms are welcoming. If the back of a chair, and especially a couch, is first presented when entering a room, it symbolizes a chilly reception—a person with their back to the guests coming in. Try to arrange the seating so that you don’t have to walk around it to sit in it. Make it easy to walk into the room.

Edit, categorize, pack. And keep it neat!

Edit, categorize, pack. And keep it neat!

The only thing worse than no furniture is too much furniture, or too much stuff in general. The message is that the home is too small. Never, ever give that message to potential buyers. If your home is crammed and cluttered, stop reading and start packing. Any time that you’re not eating or sleeping, you need to be packing. Do it until you’ve got just the right amount of your very nicest objects on display. Get help if necessary—friends, family or a professional. It doesn’t matter what you do with the packed boxes, as long as they are out of the living area. Hopefully they can go to offsite storage, but the boxes could also be put in the basement or garage if there is no alternative. A neat group of boxes that are labeled and ready for moving can say, “These folks are expecting a quick sale.”

One place those boxes can’t go: the closet. Do not have closets and cupboards crammed full. They need to look spacious. Keep closet doors closed during showings, even if the house is empty. It’s a neater look—more yang.

The symbolism of the objects in your home and their arrangement is crucial when it is for sale. Their subconscious message needs to be, “Those who live here are happy and successful, and if you live here, you will be too.” However, you should de-personalize the home by removing photos of yourself, family, and friends. Keeping them on display keeps you more firmly in the house. That’s a “stuck” energy, not a moving energy. You want the buyers to easily picture their own family and friends in the space. Items that are very particular to you or to your family’s life or history should be packed away. Such things are trophies, awards, diplomas, family coats of arms, etcetera.

The next post in this series on selling your home will also address energy, but focused on how it moves through the home—and how that can affect your potential sale.

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Sex & the Single Bookend: Feng Shui Considerations for *One* of a Pair

They all start out as pairs—but bookends (and certain other collectibles such as fu dogs) don’t always stay with their mate. The only feng shui rule about single bookends is: Don’t have them in a Relationship Corner. Other than that, consult the bagua map to know the best place to put them. “Best” being the place in your home where their physical qualities of shape, color and material (as well as their metaphorical symbolism) are accentuating that bagua area. That can be tricky because those four qualities can easily conflict with each other. You may have to mull it over to decide if a certain quality predominates. Bookends are often made of metal, wood, or pottery (which is earth), so the material can be one way to approach their placement. Glass bookends can symbolize water or metal. Synthetic materials usually symbolize fire.

Here are two of my very favorite bookends in my collection—and they’re both singles. The first one is matte white Nelson McCoy Pottery from their Lily Bud line. It’s in the Fame Area of our library because its shape symbolizes plants, and in the Creative Cycle of elements, that’s the wood that feeds the fire of the Fame Area. This bookend was produced in Ohio in the 1940s and yet it has classic Art Nouveau style even though the heyday of Art Nouveau ended around 1910. Art Nouveau is my favorite style and, with its graceful shape and wonderful feel, this is my favorite bookend.

lily-bookend_front lily-bookend_side

On the shelf above the McCoy bookend is this Tiffany bookend from the very early 1900s. It’s very special to me. I tell its story on page 76 of Feng Shui for Love & Money. The name “Tiffany” has symbolism that works well in both the Fame Area (of the room) and the Wealth Corner (of the whole house).

tiffany-buddha-bookend

The third picture shows all three shelves on this side of the window. The pottery Kwan Yin bookends (on the lower and upper shelves) are a pair even though they’re kept on separate shelves. They’re grayish blue, glossy and have no manufacturing mark. I feel sure they’re pre-midcentury American made, and if you happen to know the manufacturer I’d appreciate hearing from you.

bookend-shelves

This table, which I’ve borrowed from my Feng Shui Demystified book, may help you figure out how to classify any decorative objects you might have.

Life’s Path Water
Knowledge Earth
Health and Family Wood
Fortunate Blessings Wood
Fame Fire
Relationship Earth
Children and Creativity Metal
Helpful People and Travel Metal
Center Earth

The information on elemental cycles is probably more complicated than anything else I’ve presented in Feng Shui Demystified. The following sums it up:

Water creates Wood, is created by Metal; weakens Fire, and is controlled by Earth.

Wood creates Fire, is created by Water; weakens Earth, and is controlled by Metal.

Fire creates Earth, is created by Wood; weakens Metal, and is controlled by Water.

Earth creates Metal, is created by Fire; weakens Water, and is controlled by Wood.

Metal creates Water, is created by Earth; weakens Wood, and is controlled by Fire.

With these concepts in mind, feel free to place your lone bookends as you please. Just remember: Keep them out of the Relationship Corner!

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Feng Shui & Floor Patterns

Beachwood

For better feng shui, remove the rug—it’s the stripes that are the problem! Photo by J. Latter Design via Houzz

Floor patterns are important because things that are below us represent that which is fundamental. As a general rule, floor patterns should be subdued. Floor patterns that are visually arresting have the problem of pulling energy down because our eyes are drawn to the floor. Down implies down & out and it is almost never a good direction to move energy.

Stripes are very bad as a floor pattern—because they symbolize argument, and also because they can be extremely noticeable—imagine black & white stripes.

Checkerboard patterns do not have the problem of portending arguments, but they sure can be noticeable. Personally, I’m not sure I could stand living with a checkerboard floor day in and day out. I think it would work my nerves. However, if you like checkerboard patterns, I should say that I don’t think the visual busyness is a very big problem in the scope of things.

Royal York Apartment

I’m not a fan of checkboards myself, but if you like the look, the noticeability is a relatively small feng shui issue. Photo by Peter A. Sellar – Architectural Photographer via Houzz

There are two floor patterns to avoid: Diamond and Starburst. They are never a good idea! A diamond pattern is like a checkerboard, except it has been turned 45 degrees. (Compare the photo below, left, with the photo above.) The right angles of the pattern then make poison arrows at every door—very bad feng shui. (So keep that in mind if you do happen to like checkerboards—the orientation is very important.) A diamond pattern is sometimes called a harlequin pattern, and it is often more of a parallelogram than a square (which makes the two of the angles sharper than 90 degrees, so more problematic). Starburst floors have the same problem of aiming poison arrows at all doors, and the arrows are sharper than right angles.

Tuxedo Road

This is an example of a diamond-patterned floor. Photo by Dillard Pierce Design Associates via Houzz

Traditional Staircase

This is an example of a wood-inlay starburst. Pretty, but very pointy. Photo via Houzz

I recently consulted for a client who bought property only to find out that there was a tragic history associated with the lot. The previous owners had died in a house fire there. When I looked at the cement foundation, I noticed there was a steppingstone beside the patio and the stone was placed oddly. The cement had obviously been poured-in-place, so the orientation of the steppingstone was original to the house. The steppingstone was placed at a diagonalit aimed a poison arrow at the house, so the fundamental energy of the old house was that it was turned against itself. The builders had installed a poison arrow on the ground from the get-go.

That covers the “don’ts,” so let’s move on to what you can do. Hex shapes can never make poison arrows, because the angles are too wide. Hex tiles come in large and small sizes and many colors, so you have many design options.

Contemporary Home

The large hex tiles on this floor add subtle visual interest. Photo by Doors For Builders Inc via Houzz

Master Bathroom

Photo by Martha O’Hara Interiors via Houzz

Floors can still be interesting and fun, without being chaotic or implying disharmony. This bathroom floor to the right is nicely active, but in a subdued way because of the color. The simplicity of the decor is perfect for a bathroom.

By the way, I devote a section of Feng Shui for Love and Money to the problem of a Wealth Corner in the bathroom. A wood floor is a subtle way to counteract the water-draining-away energy of a bathroom; wood comes from plants and they suck up water. (This “wood” floor is quite clever, too, since it is actually porcelain—much less maintenance and risk of damage in a wet bathroom. Porcelain and clay items are also excellent to bring into a bathroom, because they’re made of earth and earth controls water—think of an earth dam holding a pond.)

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To Hilo, With Love

A view of downtown Hilo. Photo by Wade Morales from the Hilo Downtown Improvement Association website.

I always enjoy a visit to lovely Hilo on the other side of the island, but this most recent trip was extra special for the rewarding (and romantic!) feedback I received.

I was called to Hilo this month for a feng shui consultation. I had been to the client’s home before, so my visit was mostly selecting wall colors and fine-tuning some object placement. My preferred way of enhancing a Relationship Corner is by using objects a client already owns and likes. I suggested moving two Balinese masks from being together on the same wall to being on adjacent walls in a corner. That way, the two faces looked more at each other. This was the email I received the next morning:

“Your visit helped me to feel good!

I did not plan it, but when I put the two masks in the corner, the male is slightly higher than the female and seems to be LOOKING RIGHT AT HER ADORINGLY!

Every time I look there, I feel like it is just around the corner that someone will look at me like that.  When I woke up and saw the masks like that first thing this morning it was an amazing feeling of upliftment and is continuing to have this effect on me.”

While I was in the area, I wanted to take care of a few errands in town. For most of the state’s history, Hilo was the second largest city in the state. Downtown Hilo is ultra charming—it’s small, but packed with nice authentic vintage architecture, including fabulous Charles Dickey buildings. My errands in Hilo took me to all three of the downtown bookstores: Basically Books, Still Life Books, and Big Island BookBuyers. Even in Honolulu, you won’t find as many nice bookstores so close together in easy walking distance.

Basically Books interior

A view of Basically Books’ store interior. They stock many local books and are very supportive of local authors and publishers.

When I was in Basically Books, one of the customers came up to me and asked, “Are you Clear?” I replied, “Yes” and she said, “I took your class in Volcano [at Volcano Garden Arts] a couple of years ago, and I’d like to tell you what happened.” I said, “I’m all ears.” She said she had gone home and put two roses in the Relationship Corner of her bedroom. Two weeks later, her boyfriend proposed to her. She had known the guy for twenty years. Numerology is not a part of my practice, but I do notice when there is good symbolism in numbers—two roses, two weeks, twenty years.

Even though I don’t usually recommend roses in a Relationship Corner (because of their thorns), the arrangement looked romantic to her—and that’s the point (pun intended). It’s been my repeated experience that when the enhancements are very personally meaningful, the result is more profound.

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Feng Shui for Collectors

I’m a collector, and I appreciate good writing that takes collecting seriously. This New York Times article is interesting and the exhibit sounds very interesting. In the next three to five years I hope to get around to writing a book that I have a passion to write—Feng Shui for Collectors. In the meantime, here are some of my thoughts on collecting as it relates to feng shui.

Keep the knickknack collection under control. This photo appeared in my book Feng Shui for Hawaii with the caption: Beware of letting your home get cluttered with objects that don’t reflect you. Remember, each object has a voice.

This photo appeared in my book Feng Shui for Hawaii with the following caption: Beware of letting your home get cluttered with objects that don’t reflect you. Remember, each object has a voice.

Collecting is a huge topic. I’ve framed these suggestions as don’ts because it keeps the openness of collection categories. I have one thing to say about categories of collections at the end.

Firstly, don’t collect beyond your means. My father had a saying, ‘If you can’t pay for it, you can’t afford it—don’t buy it.” If you collect more than you can afford, you have to harness your willpower and put more money in the bank. Bad finances erode the stability of your life, and anything that does that is bad feng shui. Collections are not necessities.

Secondly, don’t collect beyond your space—not if you want to continue collecting. Making your home too crowded will affect your health; that’s from my twenty years experience as a feng shui consultant. The feng shui message you are putting out into the world if your home is stuffed with things is “I have no room for new energy.” Be prepared to edit your collection when better items come along.

Thirdly, don’t collect everything—it’s not possible—you must specialize. Narrowing a collection makes it feel smarter. Perhaps continue to narrow it down. It’s fine to have several collections—especially if you’re not actively adding new items to most of your collections. I have several collections, but only one active collection (books). I recommend having sub-collections within a larger collection—the sub-collections showing specialized aspects of the whole collection.

My readers and clients always comment on the plentiful color photos in my books.

My readers always comment on the plentiful color photos in my books, many of which are taken at the homes and gardens of my clients. I hope to include lots of collection examples in the new book.

DecorativeObjSpreadFourthly, don’t collect objects when money (investment value) precedes love in their acquisition. Love an object first, before collecting it. Don’t let investment value be your main motivation. Here’s what the Oct/Nov. 2013 issue of the AARP Bulletin says, “…just about anything recently produced that’s touted as rare or limited edition is unlikely to appreciate in value.” In feng shui, objects are symbols representing your desire to affect the energy in your home; they are much more powerful when they have meaning for you, and especially if you love them.

Lastly, don’t collect disturbing images—anything morbid or ghoulish. It’s not good for your spirit to have those images in your environment. A collection should be more uplifting than that.

I anticipate that when Feng Shui for Collectors is published, it will be beautiful—with color pictures as in Feng Shui for Hawaii and Feng Shui for Hawaii Gardens. To that end, I need photographs. So, calling all collectors out there—you know who you are. If you’re interested in having pictures of your collections in the book, please contact me. No money or book exchange involved—you would just be able to point to pictures in a lovely book and say, “That’s my collection.”

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