I should have known the French would have a word for it—enfilade. Enfilade doors are doors that are lined up exactly, one door coming into the room and another door in a direct line leaving the room. I’ve been explaining that as a feng shui problem for more than 20 years, but I just now found an accurate, succinct phrase to describe it while reading Home: A Short History of an Idea by Witold Rybcznski. It was published in 1986 and I’ve seen it around for years, but I’ve just gotten around to reading it—and I highly recommend it as a great history of the inside of Western homes.
Enfilade doors are a feng shui problem because energy doesn’t stay in the room long enough to enrich the room—the room becomes a hallway. And that’s exactly what this book says happened in the history of the evolution of home interiors. Before halls were invented (halls didn’t come first) enfilade doors were the quick and easy way to get from the front to the back of the house. Servants would pass through a room quickly—without stopping to notice what was going on in the room. The energy of the room is chopped in half by the frequent passing of people in one door and directly out the other door.
The most graceful rooms are those with doors that are not in a straight line with each other. I recently consulted in a very gracious Craftsman bungalow in Honolulu had a lot of doors—the air circulation was wonderful—no air conditioning was needed! Very few of the doors were in a straight line with other doors. Only in two rooms did that happen—one was a temporary guest space and the other was an office. In each case, those two rooms had a third door, which was the main door into those rooms, so the enfilade doors in each case were less of a problem because main doors are always the most important doors. In those rooms, the main door came directly from the large living room. The enfilade doors were secondary in those two side rooms—the problem was minor—and the airflow was great!
Here’s how I described the problem and solutions to enfilade doors (not knowing there was a name for it—as I said, I just found that out) in Feng Shui Demystified:
Three doors in an exact row (see image at the beginning of this post) are a major feng shui problem, especially when all three doors are interior doors. They confuse chi energy in a unique way causing it not to disperse in the rooms properly.
The problem is a bit less if one of the doors is external. Not two of the doors, one of the doors, as in the picture (right). If two of the three doors are external it’s a severe problem. Energy won’t tend to stay in the home well unless one of the doors is moved. (Note: this is not the same as three doors side-by-side (below) which is usually quite harmonious.)
The only real remedy is to move one of the doors, as shown, right. That’s usually not feasible, so the standard symbolic remedy is to hang one or more crystals anywhere above the pathway through the three doors. A very tall piece of furniture, such as a screen or bookshelf, could also be placed in one of rooms so that all three doorways aren’t visible at once. Be careful not to make the space feel awkward if you do that.
In a future article I’ll discuss comfortable chairs and further review Rybcznski’s book, Home. He doesn’t like most very modern chairs because they don’t fulfill the body’s need of comfortable support. I and other feng shui consultants agree wholeheartedly.