Feng Shui, the Chinese philosophy/decorating style, may be an ancient practice, but, in modern day NYC, it’s become popular with developers hoping for a marketing edge, and homeowners looking for a unique and mindful means of decorating their apartments. We spoke to Feng Shui master, R.D. Chin, who among his many projects, is working on luxury residential properties in the Lower East Side and One Flushing in Queens, to get some tips on how best to Feng Shui your place — whether it’s a teeny studio or a giant Park Avenue penthouse.
1) Get your head out of the clouds: We live high in New York, and sometimes we need to be brought back down to reality. When Chin designed the office space for Standard Charter Bank, he recommended they use earthy color tones to balance out the fact that they were on the 35th floor, even suggesting that they build an enormous living plant wall. When you’re that high up, “you really need something grounding, earthy,” he says.
2) Know what your intentions are for a space: What feeling do you want to evoke in a room? Happiness? Prosperity? Romance? Once you have decided what “intentions” you have for a space, Feng Shui can help you realize them. “We want to add this other, intangible element that somehow you can feel like ‘oh this feels kind of nice here. What is it?'” Chin says, “In a way that’s kind of like my gift to really enhance the quality of their life.”
3) Eat near the windows: Chin noticed that many people tend to put their living rooms near the windows, “A lot of the apartments that I go to in Manhattan, I’m actually switching the living room and the dining room. The window is much more of a yang experience, so I put the dining room by the windows and I put the living room in between the kitchen and the dining room. And they feel much more comfortable.”
4) Map out the different corners of your space: Feng Shui masters use a type of map, called a ba gua, which is an octagon that lists different intentions for each corner of a room. The eight areas are: Fame, Marriage & Commitment, Children & Creativity, Helpful People & Travel, Career, Knowledge, Family, and Wealth & Power. Make sure each corner reflects what you want to be happening in each space (i.e. put your bed in the Marriage & Commitment corner, and your desk in the Wealth & Power corner). The Ba Gua can work for a room, an apartment or an entire house.
5) Balance your bedroom: “It’s very interesting looking at people’s bedrooms because it really says something about their relationship and how they treat each other,” Chin says. A good relationship is a balanced relationship, and so Chin recommends equaling out your space as much as possible. Buy matching end tables for your bed, go shopping together for pieces to decorate and make sure both partners agree about how things are laid out.
6) Pay attention to how you feel in a space: Chin calls this the “Chi approach” where he has his clients move around different areas of a space and rearrange furniture until it makes sense to them. It’s a “really acute observation of the space and how it feels for us.”
7) Be honest with yourself: Chin says he often goes into apartments where space isn’t being used effectively, like one client who had his home office in the dark basement even though the family never used the dining room. “It was an empty chi space,” he said, “I’m helping people look at their life in a different perspective. I feel like it’s sort of being innovative, but at the same time it’s a lot of common sense.”