I've been postponing my first post because as always, I'm trying to be a perfectionist, which usually ends with frustration and disappointment. Today is one of the bad days - my son passed on his cold to me (yes, in southern California's 100F weather, I'm wrapping myself with a thick blanket while sipping chicken soup), and my migraine decided to join the party. What the heck, I'm going to write my first blog post today!
We've been hunting for a new house for a few months now. I started to notice a pattern. Whenever I walk into a house with open floor plan, high ceiling, and stairs opening to the direction of the door (or at least visible from the entryway), I immediately fall in love. Who doesn't like open floor? It's not always practical, but the bright and open design always sends joy to your heart. Like this one:
Or better yet, with more windows, like this:
So it sounds absolutely crazy to block that open view from entryway, isn't it?
But first let's go back to my background. I was born and raised in Beijing, China. I then came to U.S. to pursue my graduate study then built a career here. I spent my entire adult life here in U.S., so I think and talk mostly like an American. Yet now that I'm in my mid thirties, I find myself going back to the root. Eastern culture is having a stronger pull on me, from big picture stuff like how to raise my kid, to small things like Feng Shui in the house.
You get where I'm going. Blocking your entryway is actually one of the essential principle of indoor Feng Shui.
If you ever go to China, take note on how apartments are designed there. Most of the time, the door is not facing directly to the living room, but is to a half-blocked entry way or even a wall. Those that is opened up to the living room, like the two pictures above, don't sell well. The developers learned their lessons over the years. For example, this apartment's door is facing a wall, with another wall on the side to block the view of the living room:
Another example. This door is facing the living room alright, but the designer also built a semi-transparent divider to block part of the view.
According to Feng Shui, a divider or blocker has these functions:
It block the bad energies from outside.
It reserves the good vibe you created within the house. Some go a step further to say that it preserves your "money luck". A wide open living room is like a wide open wallet, vulnerable and inviting to thieves.
It creates privacy for your home. Now this is a good point. You don't want salesman or delivery guys to see your home in first glance.
This is not entirely cultural nuance. Remember the house you saw earlier? It has this platform, I dare to call it a room divider too. It creates a contrast between outside and inside. And it's simply convenient to have a place to place your keys, mails, or whatever random thing from your kids' hands.
To me there's science behind Feng Shui. In Chinese, Feng Shui literally means "wind and water", and it indicates the key elements surrounding and influencing you every single moment. A bad environment makes people sick, either physically or mentally. The key Feng Shui tips I learned are all for that. You actually feel good in good Feng Shui, and it's easy to tell why. It doesn't take a rocket science degree to do so, you know you feel well when it's clean, tidy, complete with natural elements, and pleasant to your senses.
But I still like my open floor plan. No matter what Feng Shui says, I'm a die hard appearance girl. My number one principle is : does it look presentable?
Luckily, my vanity doesn't contradict Feng Shui at all. When it comes to blocking the inside view, there are more detailed instructions:
1. Solid bottom, transparent upper.
So the divider in the picture above stays. All you need to do is install something semi-transparent above, like a stained glass or fish bowl.
This way, you still get the sunny and bright vibe coming from above and within. You still walk in a lovely open view, but it's even more dreamy than before. It's always nice to have something more to expect, just wait til you turn the corner!
2. Don't use shoe racks as divider.
Here is another intuitive thought, I have that space, why don't I use it for something practical, like a shoe cabinet! Well that's my first thought too. But since we've followed Feng Shui this far, why not making it perfect. Feng Shui did say that shoes represents bad energy from outside. Or at the very least it brings germ in.
So use the wall next to it for your shoe cabinet. You can still have a bench or closet here. I bet if you are like me, you'll have plenty of things to put in there: bags, grocery bags, kids toys, mails, keys, clothes, books, snacks, you name it...
3. Don't darken the room
Again, it's all about improve your room's energy, not ruining it. You want the elements to go through: wind and light specifically. There's always an artistic way of doing so. If you can add a bit of mysterious tint to the design, that's added bonus.
4. You don't need to go all the way up to ceiling. Half way is totally fine. After all, your eye sight is only that high. And Feng Shui is about pleasing to your eyes so the feeling goes to your mind.