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Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Life + Arts

The force of moving furniture

Westerners have, by some accounts, missed the point of feng shui. Much of the knowledge behind it has been lost in translation. | Getty Images via

College students can still harness the power of feng shui with a few easy solutions.

Proponents of feng shui claim that this traditional Chinese interior decorating method can help people harness positive energy in their homes and lead lives marked by wealth, lasting relationships and fulfillment.

 Feng shui consultants advise homeowners to move furniture and decorations, re-paint walls or even renovate their homes so that energy can more easily flow in a more auspicious manner. While UH may not allow students to make radical changes, college students living in smaller apartments and dormitory rooms still have many pleasing feng shui options that can help them organize their rooms and take control of their lives.

Katherine Ashby from Feng Shui Houston said that she sometimes uses a method of feng shui that was developed for Western homes. Using this method, students can gauge the auspicious areas of their personal living spaces by standing in their doorway and seeing which areas of the room correspond to a special map known as a “ba gua,” which can be printed off of feng shui Web sites such as 

A student sharing an apartment with multiple bedrooms should apply this map to his or her personal bedroom.

Ashby advised students with roommates to focus on their side of a dormitory room. The roommate whose bed is located far away from the front door could use the ba gua from the edge of his side of the room that he crosses when he enters the room from the front door.

“In the upper left-hand corner (of your space) is the wealthy area. In the right hand corner in the back is the marriage area and love and relationships,” Ashby said.

Ashby added that she can do a feng shui reading based on a complicated and older tradition that takes into account the resident’s Chinese astrological sign and his most productive compass directions for sleeping and furniture arranging.

“There is a direction that is best for money, one that’s best for health, love and relationships and that’s for protection. There are other directions. There is a direction that is the most unproductive direction of all, and at all costs they should avoid sleeping in that direction,” Ashby said. “I think everybody should know their four good directions and four bad directions. Then, they can get a little compass, like a $15 compass at the store, like at Academy or Sports Authority, and figure out their directions.”

When arranging their room according to feng shui principles, Ashby advised students to soften sharp corners and jutting, uneven furniture with soft, pleasant drapery and to be aware of their interactions with the room.  Wind chimes and crystal balls can also soften harsh corners, such as the jutting entryway into Quadrangle rooms and some Cullen Oaks floor plans.

“Sometimes you’ll have a dresser or an armoire or some big piece of furniture, a bookcase, and an edge of it is jutting out into the room. If you are looking at it the whole time or it’s aimed at your back while you’re trying to study, you won’t be able to concentrate” Ashby said.

Local certified feng shui consultant Laurie Levin also had suggestions for students.

“You can still decorate with furniture and accessories. You can choose your bedding, any type of bedside table or lamp, throw pillows,” Levin said.

Levin spoke a bit about dispersing negative energy that collects in rooms, saying that students can spritz water mixed with 20 to 30 drops of lavender or peppermint around their room or even vacuum the floor. Students who live off-campus can consider lighting incense.

Levin advised students to pay attention to the five Chinese elements when designing their room.

“The main thing is to have a balance of earth, water, metal fire and wood. Those are really the five elements in nature that make us feel most comfortable indoors,” Levin said. 

Students can incorporate the elements into their decoration through many ways. Residents of Law Residence Hall have wooden bed frames, while Cougar Place residents have the element of metal in their metallic bed frames. 

Certain shapes and colors are also associated with different elements, so students can work with a consultant to decorate their rooms and even use special procedures to activate the unique properties of different accessories.

“When you don’t have a lot of space or control over your space, just having a shelf with the elements can help the “chi” in your room. When you see the shelf, it gives you a good feeling. The two in combination really help to change things in your life,” Levin said.

However, Levin warned that change comes only with effort.

“Placing simple objects is not really gonna change your life, but when you have specific intention in combination with placing, that’s going to make it significant.”

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