Feng Shui & Safety, Part Two

Picking up where my last post left off…

Meanwhile, at the California beach house, the question was whether or not to replace the custom metal railing that separated the upper living room from the lower living room—the difference in levels being a little over five feet. They were unsure about keeping the stylish midcentury railing even though it had not been designed by the architect. I hadn’t seen photos of the railing and I’m a great fan of authentic old stuff (such as midcentury architectural details), so I didn’t know what to say except, “I can’t answer that until I see pictures.” She emailed me a link to a well-done video walkthrough of the home—before the renovation. As soon as I saw the railing, I knew the answer. It had to go. It was technically unsafe for small children by today’s standards.

cable railing system

The new home will use a modular cable rail system similar to this one. They’re quite common. Photo by Smith & Vansant Architects via Houzz.

Knowing that the railing had not been designed by the architect helped to confirm my quick decision. The railing was too stylish and “say something,” and what it was communicating was not in conversation with the rest of the architecture. There’s an important design principle that can be used to create harmony within a home: Things are either in conversation or conflict. The railing will be replaced by ultra-modern metal posts with thick strands of metal wire horizontally, every few inches. They’re almost ubiquitous now and all they say is “safe & modern.” And that’s all they need to say.

I’m glad I wasn’t torn between safety and architectural detail that was designed by the home’s architect. I’m partial to midcentury design and I might not have been able to follow that #1 feng shui rule—safety first. The building you’re in doesn’t just symbolize protection—it must be protection (from the elements and uninvited critters). Any part of your home that isn’t safe needs repair or replacement. No amount of red ribbons or red paint can make an unsafe situation safe. Those are symbolic cures to use something is broken and can’t be (immediately) fixed, and when safety is not an issue. As I said last time—once safety is an issue, then it becomes the decision maker. Safety first—that’s reality!

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