The Art of Arranging Spaces in Our Hearts and Homes

A friend was recently certified in feng shui, the ancient Chinese art of arranging spaces to bring about harmony and balance and increase peace and prosperity. For more than a year now, my friend has been offering me tips to improve the spaces in my home, and it’s shocking how much it has raised my energy and improved my mood.

We’ve made big changes, like redoing the landscaping in our front yard (which we’d been meaning to do for a while) to create more open space in front of the door. She also mentioned that it’s “bad feng shui” to block a door, which we were doing in our study. We’d long had plants and a chair in front of a door to a side patio that we never used. Once we rearranged the furniture, I noticed how nice that little patio is, so I ordered some chairs for it, and it will now become a fun reading nook for me.

We’ve also made smaller changes, like moving artwork to different walls or balancing the five elements (water, wood, metal, fire, and earth) in fun ways around our fireplace. But the hardest change was just decluttering. My friend pointed out that I had wooden bookshelves double-stacked with books, which are also wood. In other words, I had way too much wood in those areas. Telling a writer/historian to get rid of books is like telling a golfer to get rid of her favorite clubs. But I’ve done it. I’ve now given away 575 books with more to go, as soon as I get my guts up to part with them.

There’s an element of the Marie Kondo approach in all of this, keeping only the things that bring me joy. Harder, though, has been parting with items that had sentimental value, but were no longer “useful.” For example, she pointed out I had too many pictures of my kids as babies and young children on display in the house. Now that they are adults, it’s important to both them and me that I not see those pictures and feel immediately “responsible” for them anymore. I needed to take some down. That was hard, but now I feel lighter.

And the best part of all . . . this exercise has given me permission to buy new art, which I haven’t done in a while because I thought my house was “full.”  My friend had pointed out a corner in the “fire” section of the house that needed some fire (red color or triangle shape). A few months later, I saw the works of a local artist who specializes in traditional Chinese art. She had a red peony painting that I knew would be perfect in that spot. Peonies hold a special place in my husband’s and my hearts, so that purchase felt especially good. So did the purchase of a gorgeous photograph my friend had taken that I’d been eyeing for a while.

I’m on the look-out now for some other specific art pieces for certain spaces in my home, but I’m not rushing it, because looking is part of the fun. I’ll know the right thing when I see it. And when I place it exactly where it belongs, I’ll relish the lift in my energy and the joy it all brings.

Just another way art saves us.

By Teresa R. Funke

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