Spring is here!
The clocks are turned forward, the weather is breaking, and everything just feels more…alive.
I’m reading a booking at the moment called Feng Shui that Makes Sense by Cathleen McCandless. It’s opened my eyes to a whole new dimension of how to create an incredible home environment.
McCandless focuses on what she calls “practical feng shui”, which is simply the study of environment and how it affects people.
So this month, I’m going to walk you through a feng shui-inspired process of studying your own environment and seeing how it might be affecting you. Enjoy :)
The “feel” of a space is a funny thing. Sometimes you can’t really put your finger on why you like spending time in one space, but you avoid others.
What ends up happening in a home is the spaces that don’t resonate with us either don’t get used (I’m talking to you dining room!) or we don’t feel at our best when we are in them. Anyone who’s ever worked in an office with gray cubicles and cold lighting knows what I’m talking about!
If we’re going to breath new life into those tired spaces, though, it’s really important that we see them with a totally fresh perspective.
I find it’s really difficult to take an honest look at things that are part of the fabric of our everyday life, though. They become so much a part of us that we sometimes forget that these details are totally our choice. (Kind of reminds me of the time I went brunette after a lifetime of blonde.)
This fresh perspective is a key part of why I’m able to make such big changes in my clients’ spaces. Certain things in your closet, for example, pop out at me, when they’ve long since been tuned out by you. Happens to me in my closet too : /
But the more you’re able to capture that “fresh eye”, the more you’ll be able to inject your own magic into your spaces. You get that fresh eye through mindfulness - being attuned to the present moment and the little details that make up the “right now”.
If you do yoga or practice meditation, you’re already familiar with this.
You can use these ideas to figure out the spaces in your home that need attention. Let’s talk about how.
The first step is to take 5 minutes and relax. We rarely just stop everything, so that right there is likely going to be a perspective shift.
Take some deep breaths and turn off all distractions and just focus on what’s happening right now. When your mind wanders to the past or the future, don’t worry about it, just go back to focusing on right now.
Then, keeping a clear mind, walk out to your front entrance and
enter your home through the eyes
of a first-time visitor. What do you notice? Pay attention to how the entrance makes you feel. Welcomed? Invited? Like the entrance to a happy home? Or something less inspiring?
Subconsciously, these are the emotions getting triggered every time you walk into your home.
Repeat the process (including the mindfulness exercise) in each room of your home. When you step into the shoes of a stranger and walk in, what do you notice? How do you feel? Again, pay attention to things that you usually don’t notice and write down your thoughts so you don’t lose them.
In my experience, the top 3 things you can do to enhance life of a space are:
- Declutter. In 2012, UCLA concluded a multi-year study which found that clutter and chaos in the home triggered an increase in the stress hormones released into the body. Clutter pulls down everyone in the family. On the one hand, that’s a little scary. But on the other hand, it’s powerful to know that simply by getting rid of junk and properly storing the rest, you can make an enormous change in your family’s quality of life.
- Add plant life. In Feng Shui that Makes Sense, McCandless cites research that shows plants in your environment reduce stress, promote healing, increase productivity and provide a greater sense of well-being. Not bad for a $15 investment!
This alone will enhance any room and change your experience in that space. So find yourself some plants, big or small, doesn’t matter. You can put them on your desk, in your kitchen, at your front entrance, you decide! But it will change your life.
- Change furniture placement. This is a deeper topic than we can cover here. But the main idea is that you want to notice how your furniture is arranged and whether or not that’s helping or hurting how you feel in that space.
About a year ago, Doug and I moved our couch from being in the middle of the room to being up against the wall. It created all this open space in our studio, and now the couch faces the room and encourages engagement, where before it closed things off. No expensive purchases, just some time spent thinking about alternatives and making a change.
This list is by no means exhaustive, but it’s a great start. If you embrace a fresh perspective and look at your spaces using the criteria above, you’re going to open the floodgates with ideas of how you can transform your home and the way you experience it.
Have an incredible April :)