Times change—20 years ago, people saw yoga as a strange practice with no tangible physical benefits. Since then, we’ve been so widely exposed to its positive effects both on the body and mental health that it’s become as mainstream as green juice. Similarly, the ancient Chinese spatial laws of feng shui in houses have only proliferated, with Gwyneth Paltrow and Marie Kondo among its most recent enthusiasts.
To the uninitiated, feng shui can feel a little esoteric, but if you take the time to dig into the philosophy behind it, you’ll find out that it’s not only based on simple common-sense practices that make our homes healthier and more organized, but it also reveals how connected we are to our homes—and in turn, how they can affect our mood and well-being. In practicality, feng shui should feel no weirder or less intuitive than spring-cleaning or decorating a comfortable home.
To demystify some of the rules of this ancient Chinese tradition, we tapped New York–based professor, feng shui expert, and author of The Holistic Home, Laura Benko to give us simple, actionable tips on how to incorporate its philosophy in our homes. Benko is widely acclaimed for having rebranded feng shui into a more modern lillian too, holistic approach while still honoring age-old traditions. To Benko, feng shui is not about transforming the structure of a home, but about making our homes evolve with us.
Though nearly imperceptible, these small tweaks can have a “profound impact on your daily life,” she insists.
These feng shui house tips won’t just bring harmony into your home, but they can potentially increase the value of its selling price. Now have we got your attention? Read on for Benko’s tips.
Slow Down the Energy Flow
“When there is a direct line-of-sight between the front door and the back door, it means the chi (or energy) is shooting through the house too fast,” says Benko. Instead of having it fly straight out the back door, “you want it to move in a graceful undulating way that goes around your whole home evenly,” she suggests.
The Solution: Slow the chi down with a patterned rug on the floor, artwork on the walls, or even a round entry table.
Keep Your House Clear of Clutter
While this may seem like an obvious problem to tackle around the house, we are all too guilty of accumulating tchotchkes that don’t play a specific function in the home. According to Benko, clutter is more than just visually displeasing: “It’s an energetic anchor that impedes the best things from unfolding in our lives,” she says. “An excessive amount of clutter stops us from having clarity of thought, and can weigh us down emotionally.” Feng shui is less about having an overly perfectly styled home, and more about creating a happy and healthy environment.
The Solution: Make sure that you have the correct organizational systems in place for everything in your life: from paying bills, to recycling, to having a designated spot for your keys. You’ll feel lighter, less frazzled, and more efficient.
Keep the Path to the Front Door Clear
“The front door is very important in feng shui,” says Benko. After all, it’s the main portal through which energy enters your home, remember? From the outside, she suggests “think of the chi as a first-time visitor trying to find your home—you want to make sure it’s clearly lit, well-marked, and the address visible.” On the inside, you want to make sure you’re not walking directly into a wall—”it can metaphorically make you feel like you’re up against a wall every day,” she says.
The Solution: Install a mirror. When you hang the mirror, Benko advises to connect an intention to it, like expanding the opportunities in your life, and not allowing yourself to feel limited.