You’ve longed for it all day, that moment when your head hits the pillow and you wander away wistfully to dreamland. except you don’t. your mind is going 100 miles an hour and somehow you find yourself in the kitchen at two in the morning unabashedly eating the remains of fudge sundae and questioning all your life choices. But before you join the Peace Corps or head out on a trip abroad to eat, pray and love, a more subtle cure for your insomnia might be all you need to get back to racing well-rested. we’re talking about a feng shui-style ambience boost in the bedroom.
For centuries, the Chinese believed that there were invisible forces at work all around us, forces that, when optimized within an occupied space, can enhance our well-being. some refer to it as Chinese geomancy; others pass it off as early Taoist ideology. but most know it as feng shui. it’s a millennia-old belief system that, in our time of fast-paced, screen-driven pandemic and political exhaustion, is more than ripe for new exploration.
Reading: Feng shui bedroom ideas
For practical tips on how to apply feng shui to your bedroom, we turned to holistic space author anjie cho and new york city-based practitioner julia sarasola. read on for inspiration for good mojo everywhere and a blessed sleep, in style. but by all means, keep making that trip to bali.
aims for a serene environment
Regardless of your decorating style, your goal should be to create a serene bedroom. “The important thing about feng shui is how a space makes you feel,” says cho. “A bedroom that has good feng shui feels comfortable, nurturing, supportive, and like home. your environment has a great effect on your prosperity, livelihood, well-being and health.”
establish a dominant position in bed
“The bedroom is your place to rest in preparation for the next day, and in fact, we spend a third of our lives doing it,” Sarasola says. “It is important that you adapt your space to yin energy, the soft and restorative energy that balances the more active yang energy.”
One of the easiest ways to do this is to put the bed in what’s called the command position: When you’re sitting up in bed with your back against the headboard, you should be able to see the door without being directly in it. line with him. that usually means you’re looking diagonally at the door. “You don’t want your feet directly toward the door and you don’t want the headboard to be in line with the door,” says Cho. you also want to place the bed as far away from the door as possible. “The symbolism here is that you are positioning yourself to face your life and opportunities from a vantage point, eliminating surprises and feelings of uneasiness,” adds Sarasola.
sarasola advises against sleeping under architectural features like low beams and ceiling fans, sloped ceilings, and even soffits. “It can create a heaviness and pressure that isn’t ideal for sleeping,” she says. If her bedroom has these features, an easy solution is to paint them a light color that matches the ceiling, which will minimize their visual and spiritual weight.
add a support header
“who doesn’t love a little extra support?” Sarah asks. “Choosing the right headboard is one of those simple changes that you’ll instantly feel, giving you a better night’s sleep and an overall sense of security.” choose a solid headboard over one that is made of vertical bars or slats of wood. cho suggests wooden or upholstered headboards, but says to avoid metal perforations, as “they are often designed as bars that feel imprisoned.” make sure it is something you can lean on firmly and that it is perfectly attached to the bed. (bonus points if the headboard matches the comforter and sheets.)
balance in all things
Balance is the fundamental principle of feng shui, and no place is more suitable for symmetry than the bedroom. “If you want to attract a partner or are in a relationship, the principle of balance is important in a bedroom,” Cho says. having space, nightstands, sconces or works of art on both sides of the bed are just a few examples that are pleasing to the eye. the goal should be to create enough space for you and your partner. And good news: “They don’t have to be symmetrical,” says Cho. “balance gives you more freedom.”
place the mirrors judiciously
Some feng shui experts stipulate that mirrors and all those reflections can be too energetic for a quiet space and can disturb your sleep. I’m not sure yet? one suggestion is to cover the mirrors for a few nights and take note of how you sleep. if you sleep soundly with them covered, you might consider at least moving them to a wall that doesn’t face your bed.
On the other hand, according to feng shui principles, mirrors can activate the right energy in a room when used sensibly. “They can guide and direct the flow of energy, absorb or expand, reflect, protect, strengthen, and even attract auspicious chi [energy],” says Sarasola, who suggests hanging or aligning mirrors so your head or neck isn’t t he cuts himself looking at them. “The alternative can cause headaches or neck pain, and can even manifest as a lack of ability to express yourself or be heard,” Sarasola says. sarasola advises couples to hang a large round mirror over the bed to invite harmony, compassion and patience into the relationship.
show off your curves
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“In feng shui we call sharp corners or pointed arrows poison,” says sarasola. “[Corners] can drain our energy and even make us feel like we’re under attack.” corners or furniture that are at an angle of 90 degrees or less should not go through the bed area if you were to draw an invisible line from the angle. If furniture placement options are limited, you can also place a small plant or piece of fabric cascading over the corner to soften it.
organize your bedroom library
Feng shui experts generally agree that it’s best to keep books out of the bedroom, as they can be very “active.” but that decision ultimately lies in the nuance of his relationship to the books. a novel that helps you relax is appropriate, but avoid a library full of books, which can be distracting. “If you have books in your bedroom that bring you joy, that’s amazing,” she says. “Otherwise, a buildup of items that bother or stress you out when you look at or read them can represent fears, obstacles, and even create a buildup of stagnant chi. when not addressed, this can lead to anxiety, insomnia, and even illness.”
There is only one strict rule here: when you look around your bedroom, you should feel happy, calm and supported by the elements around you. As for his books, we’ll let you decide where that Steve Jobs biography belongs.
go organic when it comes to the number of threads
Organic bedding is the best choice for a bedroom that adheres to feng shui principles. “There are a lot of ethics involved in how conventional bedding is created and manufactured, so all that energy is intertwined with the materials you choose to have in your home,” says Cho. “do your best to buy the most ethical and non-toxic materials you can afford, because that will affect your life.”
When it comes to colors, cho prefers white bedding. “It’s a blank canvas that allows you to incorporate different accents like pillows,” she says. “But if you want to attract a mate, you can have pink bedding. if you want to have more passion for life, you can wear red bedding.”
accentuate natural light
beware of consuming too much vitamin d, nobody ever said it. Turns out the feng shui principles are in line with the doctor’s orders. “Natural light is an amazing life force energy,” Sarasola says. “Having a bedroom rich in life force supports and nurtures us during our waking and unawakened lives.” Choose window trims that maximize natural light and can be easily removed. don’t block your windows with bulky furniture.
at night, soft, relaxing lighting can really set the tone. “One particular type of lighting that is good in feng shui is uplighting, especially if someone is depressed,” Cho says. she recommends 2,700 kelvin versus 3,000 kelvin lights as they add warmth to an interior. And of course, candles really raise the level of a room, creating warmth and intimacy.
find a new home for aunt phyllis’s portrait
your room is not the place for family photos, says cho. “Your bedroom is about connecting with your partner, and photos of family members aren’t all that cozy or sexy.” avoid movie or band posters, and opt for abstract art that contains calming colors or images of serene places. “You can search for colors, shapes, and the theme of an image for additional support,” Sarasola says. “Shades of green and images of strong trees moving upwards, for example, can be very uplifting and bring in the energy of growth.”
The type of artwork you choose for your bedroom is a personal and emotional decision that is ultimately up to you. “I often tell my clients to let their intuition guide them to what appeals to them,” Sarasola says. “Consult with yourself what kind of emotions your work of art evokes in you. Overall, feelings of hope, stability, joy, and peace will foster a great sense of harmony in the bedroom.” And don’t be afraid to reflect and adapt to what you need right now, as that can change at different stages of life.
A word on placement: Your largest piece of art should be hung on the wall facing the foot of the bed so you can see it when you sleep and when you wake up. Artworks shouldn’t be placed too low, cho warns: “they can depress you emotionally.”
consider the dimensions of the bed
Feng shui even has stipulations about mattresses. First, let’s talk about size. double and queen beds are recommended for people who spend any amount of time with a midnight partner (we don’t judge). king-size mattresses often have two separate box springs, which can create distance and a division in the relationship. For those who love the larger option, look for a single box spring bed frame.
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Having the bed at a reasonable height is also an essential component of good feng shui. a good rule of thumb is to leave 18 inches of open space between the mattress and the floor. Unless you’re a certain Disney prince (in which case, you’ve got all the luck you need), you want to feel grounded, not like you’re floating on a magic carpet.
ground the space with a rug
Speaking of rugs, feng shui experts agree that rugs help bring gravity into the bedroom. square and rectangular rugs are the most common rug shape. Round rugs are believed to promote positive energy as they have no corners and therefore do not interrupt the flow of the room. Whatever color or shape you choose, including a rug in your bedroom is an important way to ground the space.
reduce electronics and technology
Deciding whether or not to include a television in the bedroom depends on your lifestyle. if you normally have trouble falling asleep, keep it out of the bedroom or hide it with a panel of wood or fabric. “We are in an age where we are surrounded by electronic devices,” says Cho. “There are ways to gracefully hide the TV so it’s not a distraction from your sleep.” but fear not, you can binge on the island of love elsewhere.
make smart curtain choices
There’s no hard and fast rule for curtains, but a good walkway can definitely work as a good diffuser or room divider. “If you live on a noisy street, curtains can act as a buffer between the active yang energy of the street and the soft yin energy of the bedroom,” Sarasola says. they can also provide privacy, visually soften a space, and add texture or a pop of color to a room.
avoid a multipurpose bedroom
We get it, you’re preaching to the choir here. (city dwellers, can I get an amen?) space is a commodity and you may not have a separate space for your work from home situation, your aspirational gym nook, heck, even your child’s crib . but some clever tweaks to any corner outside of your sleeping space can be worth it. feng shui 101 dictates that your bedroom should be your bedroom and nothing more, because you don’t want to train your mind to be more active in the room designated for relaxation and sleep. an unbalanced chi does not make you a zen person.
bring plants with rounded leaves
Being surrounded by nature is always relaxing, so consider bringing the outdoors in by making plants a part of your bedroom décor. but not all plants reflect the philosophy of feng shui. “It’s best to stick with plants that have smooth, rounded edges,” Cho says. for example, succulents with heart-shaped leaves or snake plants, which are known to give off more oxygen at night, can make a space feel calmer.
avoid water sources
according to feng shui, water is a faux pas in the bedroom. Avoid placing a water feature, fountain, or fish tank, in your bedroom. Also avoid hanging artwork that incorporates water scenes such as lakes, rivers, or waterfalls. water disrupts the serenity you are working for, as it has active chi energy. furthermore, water puts out fire, which is unfortunate for passion and libido. tsk, tsk.
consider color effect
The art of feng shui encompasses an entire study of color theology. different colors have different energies: blue and black help us focus, green invokes decision and action; and white promotes mental clarity and productivity.
Most people think that a totally neutral palette is the key to a good feng shui bedroom, but cho says you can decorate with any hue that resonates with you. “Neutrals tend to be more earthy in color, and earth represents support, stability, and nourishment,” says Cho. “If that’s what appeals to you and what you need, that’s a great palette. it’s more about your taste.” in other words: you do it.
reduce and zhuzh up
Last but not least, take the time to declutter your bedroom regularly and have regular cleaning sessions. There’s no denying that clutter creates stress, and good feng shui calls for keeping it at bay. “You want to have an open space, especially under your bed, because that creates healthy energy and healthy chi,” Cho says. But if you live in a small space and have to use under your bed for storage, stick with soft sleep-related items like bedding, pillows, and blankets. it’s not an area to store emotionally charged items, whether they’re shoes, jeans that no longer fit, or photographic memorabilia.
but order is only half of the equation for a welcoming environment. “You can stain the bedroom [with sage] or just diffuse oil to improve feng shui,” Sarasola says. “When I feel like I need a boost of energy to start the day, I gravitate toward citrus scents, like orange and bergamot, which inherently have the characteristics of uplifting yang energy. and when I feel like I need more energy to ground or center myself, I choose sandalwood or lavender, which are more yin in nature and perfect for bringing you into a state of rest.”
additional information from monique valeris.
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