Living Well

Feng What?

Have you heard of feng shui?   If not, you are not alone.   I was familar with the term but knew little about it. Recently,  a high school friend emailed me that her cousin, Katie Rogers, had moved to Birmingham and that she thought we should meet.

Katie graduated from Vanderbilt University with an English degree before becoming a certified feng shui specialist.  Originally from Mobile, she was living in Los Angeles and Sun Valley, ID the past ten years when she decided to move back to her home state to be closer to family.

When Katie and I met at the local Starbucks, we immediately hit it off.  Here was this warm, Southern-bred girl who was as genuine as she could be, yet she also had this artsy side to her as well.   A friendship was quickly formed, and I am honored to call Katie my friend.

I have enjoyed learning more about feng shui from Katie and thought you might like an intro into it as well.

Take it away, Katie ……

“Feng What?”  That’s what I usually hear when telling my fellow Southerners that I am a feng shui (pronounced: fung schway) consultant.  I smile and repeat the words a little slower, and I’m then met with a blank stare.  “What in the world is that?” they ask.

Feng shui, in its essence, is how you feel in a space.

Let me put it this way.  When you walk into a beautiful home, where everything is in order and there are possibly healthy plants here and there and other happy details, you just feel good!  Right?
foyer by Dana Wolter -- comfy sofa says "come on in!"

Compare that to a cluttered mess!  Yuck!

clutter!!! (from this website)

Like photosynthesis is to a beautiful garden, feng shui is to a beautiful home (or office or anywhere!)  It’s what’s happening — energetically — behind the scenes.

Let me give you an example.  Below is one of Dana’s gorgeous designs.  While she could tell you how it works from a design perspective, I can tell you how it works from a feng shui perspective.

1.  Yin and Yang. Dana talks about mixing hard and soft and using different textures and materials.  In feng shui, there is yin and yang.  You may recognize this symbol:

Yin and yang represent  balance. Notice how this living room has both curvy (yin) and straight (yang) lines; light (yang) and dark (yin); and hard (yang) and soft (yin).  The yin elements would be the cushiony pillows, the curtains, and even the nook in the corner.

"yin" curtains, pillows, and round window




The yang elements would be the sunlight streaming in, the lighter color scheme, and the hard center table.

the large mirror and exuberant floral arrangement are yang too!




Dana had no idea that she was balancing yin and yang to create optimal energy in the space.  But her intuition knew!

2. Colors and elements.  Dana tends towards a neutral palette, so in feng shui, we’d say that she likes to decorate in the element of Earth.

examples of "Earth" colors





Earth represents a nurturing and grounded energy, so this is optimal for homes of busy families, who need a respite from life!  However, again, with the elements, we want a balance.   Dana also added the element of Fire (the amber-colored vase and the outspread flower arrangement)…

….and Water (the painting by Arthur Price)…

painting by Birmingham artist Arthur Price


…as well as a good dose of Wood (ceiling and center table).  Metal appears too (chandelier and fireplace) to create a perfect harmony.  Again, this was Dana’s intuition in high gear, unbeknownst to her!

3.  Bagua map.  A hot topic of interest in feng shui is the bagua map.  Did you know that your home is actually a map to your life?  If you were to divide your floorplan (given that it’s in the general shape of a rectangle) into nine equal sections, you could use the bagua map to discover what part of your home represents which part of your life!

from the iPhone app by Tish Morris

Amazing right?  So, say your kitchen was in the far back left corner of your home (facing the front door), then that is your Abundance section.  Therefore if your kitchen is in disarray, your finances may be in disarray.  If your kitchen is clean, your fridge filled with healthy foods, and you always have an overflowing bowl of fresh fruits displayed, then a feng shui consultant could deduce that your finances are perhaps overflowing and in good health!

even a bowl of fruit is good feng shui...Abundance! photo by cdavies

The living room we’ve been talking about happens to fall in the “Helpful People” sector according to the bagua map.  Notice how the seating allows more than three people to chat without straining to hear or shouting.

8 or 9 people could sit in here comfortably! (Notice sofa on the left)

This is very auspicious in feng shui as group-seating represents community, and that’s what this sector is all about!

I’m just giving you a taste of feng shui here.  It’s an in-depth art and science that is better understood when put into practice.  And more than that, it’s a fun way to get your home – and your life – in order!  For more information, check out authors such as Sharon Stasney, Terah Kathryn Collins, Karen Kingston or Denise Lynn…or my blog The Sparklit.  You can also check out the International Feng Shui Guild for a feng shui practitioner in your area, or call me for a distance or in-home consultation.  And let us know what you think!  I always love a good feng shui success story!

Happy feng shui-ing!

–Katie Rogers