Feng Shui & Kitchen Counter Bars

Anyone who eats here has their feet dangling incredibly far off the ground, and all diners, but especially the person seated at the far right, will have a very hard time seeing who’s approaching through the doorway. Photo by Design First Interiors via Houzz

Eating at a kitchen counter is not good feng shui and will never be good feng shui. It’s got three strikes against it:

Almost always, the person sitting at the counter has their back to the room, and therefore the door. It’s a disempowered position, and any fix will only be partial and is likely to look clumsy. (Have I talked you out of it yet?) The fix is a rounded shiny object (like a silver gazing ball, convex mirror or—here’s a kitchen-appropriate one—a shiny, domed silver teakettle like the one in this video) placed so that the person at the counter sees it most of the time that they’re eating or otherwise spending time there. I challenge you to come up with something that doesn’t seem clumsy in that situation!

Problem No. 2: The stools that people usually sit on at bars prevent their feet from being well-grounded on the floor. That (like the previous problem) is not minor! Please reflect for a moment on the meanings of disempowered and ungrounded.

Those stools—they almost never have good solid backs on them. So let’s add no backing as No. 3 to the litany of problems brought on by eating at a counter. All three of these problems are happening at most household bars and eating counters. Get thee to a dining table! Or (if you must) eat on a TV tray—but make sure that you’re able to see toward the doorway into the room. And if there’s more than one doorway (and they’re both frequently used) sit so you can see toward both doorways.

This example actually has a few features that mitigate some of the problems presented by a counter bar: They’ve chosen stools with at least slight backs, and if the living room portion has no entryway from behind the photographer, diners at the bar are faced generally toward the only door. But I still wouldn’t recommend it. Photo by Design Line Construction, Inc. via Houzz

So, what to do with an existing bar? Get rid of those disempowering stools and put out some fresh fruit and/or vegetables on the counter top (hopefully in a nice bowl or basket) and a long horizontal work of art below (sort of where your knees would be if you were sitting there)—perhaps a panoramic landscape… The produce fills the place where a person’s plate would be, and the artwork replaces the stools. With these elements in place, the area won’t look vacant.

The writing of this article was triggered by a recent phone consultation I had with one of my long-time clients. They’re planning a new home that she and her husband will move into in about a year. She’s moving from a very tiny galley kitchen to one that will have gracious counters, and she still wants to luxuriate in having a food prep island—and I can’t blame her.

I successfully talked her out of designing a kitchen island that would feature a breakfast bar as one side. I pointed out that the dining table was one step away from the breakfast bar. Now, the kitchen island will be built with no extended counter top for people to sit and eat. It will just be a food prep table all the way around. She’s planning to have a big vegetable garden, so I have a feeling she’ll make good use of the space as soon as she brings in her first harvest basket. It is luxurious to be able to put a harvest basket on a nice, big table—it’s inviting putting that harvest into the next meal!

Seminar Alert! I will be offering a special class on Friday, April 21, 6:30pm – 9:00pm, for those interested in a career as a feng shui consultant. I’ll cover suggestions for developing and enhancing an active feng shui practice including training, advertising, and professional ethics. We’ll also discuss how to talk clients into—or out of—ideas that have large impact on feng shui, just as I did with my client in the story in this blog post. Prior knowledge of feng shui is a prerequisite and the material covered is not instruction in feng shui. Enrollment is limited and pre-registration is required. Free parking. Class fee: $40. Class location: Highline Kitchen Systems, Honolulu, Oahu.

 

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