Feng Shui and the Purpose of Rooms

Makai (lower) elevation, Liljestrand House. Photo by Bob Liljestrand. CC BY-SA 3.0.

In the May 2018 issue of HONOLULU magazine, there’s a nice article on the nine greatest Honolulu houses. Of course, the Ossipoff house on Tantalus is included. Betty and Howard Liljestrand were the original owners and one time their son, Bob, told his father that they really needed a reading light in the living room. His father’s reply was, “Well, you’re not supposed to read in the living room. You’re supposed to have conversations in the living room. If you want to read, go to the library.” He wasn’t referring to the public library; they had a dedicated library room in the house (as we do in our home). When I first read that, I thought, “That’s good feng shui—separate purpose for separate rooms.” But as I reflected on it, it also seems kind of anal. After all, books are quite portable, and the rooms in which books are stored should be rather dark with little or no direct sunlight—that’s what preserves the books best.

At some point feng shui has to meet the real world, and I would call that my specialty. I cut my feng shui teeth on tiny apartments in San Francisco—often just one-room, housemate rentals. Usually people had access to a common kitchen for food prep and eating, but everything else was done in their one and only space—their bedroom. That was the exact reason I wrote my second book, Bedroom Feng Shui. I wrote it with those people in mind.

If you live in a large, spread-out house, then by all means use all the rooms. Give them purposes like office, hobby room, sewing room, and try to refrain from adding a television in the living room—do try to reserve that room for conversations. That helps the energy of the home by not having rooms that feel stagnant because no one goes there very often. It also helps your energy because you do some walking. But if your place is small to tiny, then do what you have to do to make it work for you. The main feng shui suggestion is to cover up (with fabric) aspects of the room that are inappropriate for its use at the moment. The most common example is to cover a desk that has to be in a bedroom.

We have a beautiful living room in our home, but we mostly hang out on our screened-in lanai that’s between the living room and the kitchen. If we’re talking in the evening, we don’t turn lights on—we just let the day become night and enjoy the transition.

So the upshot of this article is some “real world” advice: Read where you have good light, and when you’re through, put the book back in a darker place.

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