Monthly Archives: April 2010

Do Dried Flowers bring Bad Luck?

Here we go…another silly myth incorrectly associated with Feng Shui…

Much has been written in Feng Shui literature associating dried plants with negative energy. Some of this information goes to the extreme by crediting dried plants as the potential source of all sorts of calamities. This of course is not true.

This myth is based on the concept that dried flowers and plants were once alive and are now dead.  The thought is that if you display these “dead” items in your home they will attract negative energy.  Think about it…if this were true, you would have to get rid of all your wooden furniture or risk being surrounded by “dead” energy all the time.  Nonsense!

 While dried flowers usually do not evoke the same feelings of vitality and energy that real plants do they are by no means the bearers of negative events and catastrophes. In fact, under certain circumstances dried plants can have very positive associations for people; for example when kept as mementos of weddings, proms, and other happy experiences. If you wish to display mementos of dried flowers, make sure to do so in such a way that they do not get too dusty or brittle as they may become an eyesore rather than reminders of a pleasant event.

 If you are choosing dried flowers for décor purposes only, you may want to consider realistic silk alternatives.  Silk plants can be used to symbolize a healthy plant in an area that needs the look of foliage but for one reason or another cannot support a healthy living plant.

Silk plants are preferable to dried plants as they provide an image of vitality that the dried plants do not. In fact, some silk plants are so realistic looking that it is difficult to tell one apart from a living plant. This all being said, a silk plant is just a replica of a living plant and should only be used to improve the look and décor of a room. Silk plants cannot be used as a substitute for a real plant when an area needs to be activated by the Wood element.

     copyright Cathleen McCandless


Do open-beamed Ceilings bring Bad Luck?

I get asked this a lot when I consult with clients. This question exemplifies some of the misunderstandings people (including poorly informed Feng Shui consultants) perpetuate in Feng Shui. 

Many of my clients say they have either read or heard that beamed ceilings bring all sorts of negative experiences—from headaches and joint problems to divorce.  I even had a client tell me that they were going to pass up buying a home that they loved because the living room had beamed ceilings and they had read in a Feng Shui book that this would bring their family “bad luck”.

Of course none of this is true. 

 The “bad luck” associated with beamed ceilings arose from common-sense advice long ago whose original intent has been lost over time.  In order to understand why beamed ceilings were considered “bad” Feng Shui, we need to go back to the time and place where Feng Shui began.

 As has been recently indicated in the news, China is a land prone to seismic activity. When structures were poorly built (by hand) in earthquake-prone China hundreds of years ago, it was sound advice to tell people to not sleep or sit for long periods of time under a load-bearing beam.  As with many edicts in Feng Shui, this information has been passed down for generations and the original common-sense advice was forgotten and replaced by superstition.

Beamed ceilings are not inherently “bad.” In fact, almost all buildings have them whether you can see them or not. After all, they are holding the roof up! It is simply the way we feel when we sit or sleep in a room with open beamed ceilings that determines our experience. That perception will be as unique as you are.  Determining whether or not beams have a positive or negative influence for you depends on many variables. Along with just about everything in Feng Shui, personal preference plays a big role in whether open beams in a room feel good or not. Some people like the feeling and ambience beams provide in a space, while others find them oppressive and threatening.

 If a ceiling is low, heavy beams may feel oppressive.  If this is the case, paint them a light color to match the ceiling.  If the ceiling is very high, the beams can add charm to a space.  Deciding if the beams are good for you or not is all in your personal perception.

The bottom line is, how do you feel when you sit or sleep under a beam?  If the answer is “fine”, then the beam is not a problem.  If your answer is “I don’t like it”, then you will need to consider alternatives (painting the ceiling, putting in a false ceiling, etc.).  Ultimately the choice is yours.  Remember, If it feels good, it’s good Feng Shui and go from there!

    Copyright  2010 Cathleen McCandless

Reduce your Stress with Feng Shui


One of the most important goals in Feng Shui is to create a space that is comfortable and relaxing. With stress-related illnesses topping the lists of diseases in this country, we could all use a little help in making our lives more relaxing and peaceful.

Here are some quick tips to get you started on creating a more peaceful living and working environment.

 Add nature to your surroundings

Scientific studies prove that human beings are soothed by images of, and materials from nature. As a species, humans have lived in nature far longer than in man-made surroundings. Our bodies are designed to respond to natural elements such as plants, water, sunshine and fresh air.

By adding plants, items made from wood and stone, fountains, and artwork depicting nature scenes to your space you will be bringing the outdoors inside. In doing this you will find your environment feels calmer and more relaxing.

Eliminate sharp Points and Angles as much as Possible

 Your mother telling you not to point at someone wasn’t just good manners. Sharp points, right angles and edges heighten our defense responses and make us feel more uptight and edgy.

When choosing furniture, décor items and plants for your space, select items with rounded corners and soft edges to make your environment feel more relaxing.

  Opt for Full-Spectrum Lighting

 Our bodies and eyes were designed to respond to the natural light spectrum of the sun.  When we don’t have access to sunlight, our bodies stop producing serotonin, which is the hormone that strongly influences our moods.  (This is why people living in far northern regions get so depressed in winter).   

 Replace your fluorescent and other incandescent bulbs with full-spectrum alternatives.  You can go on-line to find energy-efficient full-spectrum bulbs. 

If you work in a place where you have no control over your environment, then purchase a full-spectrum task light for your desk.  It will cut down on glare and make you feel better.

Install dimmer switches so you can raise and lower the light levels according to the time of day and your needs.

Choose soft, neutral tones and Colors

 Flesh tones, earth tones, tans, soft greens and gentle blues can help calm a room. Try to avoid overusing stimulating, bright colors if you are trying to create peace and calm in your space.

Only use Natural Scents in your Home

 Avoid artificial scents and air “fresheners” at all costs! They are made of chemicals and emit toxins. The result can be irritability, headaches, and nausea. If you wish to add scent with candles or other means, use products scented with natural essential oils, and avoid anything synthetic.

Your local health food store is a great place to shop for these items. You can also buy wonderful essential oils here:

Evaluate your Artwork

 Artwork has a powerful effect on our emotions. Take a fresh inventory of your artwork, and remove any pieces that don’t evoke positive relaxing emotions.


Eliminate Clutter and Live only with things you Love

If you don’t love it, use it, or need it…remove it!  Sometimes that includes toxic people in our lives as well!

Practice Gratitude each Day 

Don’t forget to count your blessings each day. Rise in the morning by being thankful that you have a fresh day in front of you to do good things and have rich experiences. Before you go to sleep at night, instead of counting sheep, count your blessings. It is amazing how relaxing gratitude can be!

  Copyright  Cathleen McCandless

Creating an Optimal Living Room with Feng Shui

Creating an Optimal Living Room


    The first thing to remember when we set out to decorate or Feng Shui these rooms (or any room for that matter) is to remember what the main purpose of the room is.  In this case, the purpose is to provide a space for one or more person to gather to relax, converse, or seek entertainment.  These rooms are all types of “Gathering Rooms” which serve as a common area in any home for us to share with family or friends, or when alone, curl up with a good book or a great movie.
    So how do we get the most out of these rooms?  Well here are some easy tips you can put into place that will make the “Gathering Room” as optimal as it can be.
1. If a Gathering Room has a ceiling that is over ten feet high it is easy to lose the feeling of intimacy in that room.  To make a room with a high ceiling feel cozier, make sure to keep the line of sight in the room ten feet or lower.  In other words, don’t place objects, artwork, or curtains that pull the eye up over an average ceiling height.  Adding artwork or drapes that occupy the spaces above ten feet will make the space seem even taller and will not feel like a space where people want to “hang out”.  Cozy furniture, warm area rugs with patterns, and colorful artwork will help keep the eye down in the room and make it feel more intimate.
2. Always choose chairs and seating with  arm rests.  Seating that lacks arm rests does not feel inviting or comfortable.  We like to feel protection on the sides of the furniture next to our bodies, not open spaces.

3. If deciding between a coffee table with  sharp corners and a table with rounded edges, choose the rounded corners.  Not only will it look better, it will feel better when you bang your leg into it!  Better yet, opt for an “ottoman” coffee table that can work as a table, a seat, and a foot rest.  Some of them even have a removable lid to store pillows and blankets.
4. Place seating no more than 8 feet apart.  When seats are more than 8 feet apart it makes conversation more difficult.
5. Avoid placing furniture directly facing each other.  This is called Confrontation Position and does not promote relaxed conversations.  Instead either splay the furniture out on a “V”, or open the furniture out to an “L” shape.  This way people can still see each other and talk, but won’t feel directly confronted by the other person.
6. Make sure traffic flows easily through the room.  If traffic patterns are a problem the room becomes frustrating and will not be a pleasant gathering space.
7. Choose furniture that fits the size of the room!!  Over-sized televisions and seating overwhelm a room and can make it feel claustrophobic.  If you are not sure about the size of the furniture, take careful measurements of it in the showroom, then come home and lay out newspapers on the floor that would take up the space of the furniture. Furniture always looks smaller in the showroom and can be HUGE when you get it home, so be sure to check out the dimensions carefully before you buy.
8. Provide tables for drinks and food.  If you don’t, your carpet, floor, or rug isn’t going to stay nice for very long with drinks and food spilled all over it.
9. Provide good lighting options.  Overhead lighting, floor lamps, table lamps, and lighting on a dimmer switch will provide a variety of lighting in a room that will be best for different room functions.   Have enough lighting for things like reading, entertaining, and conversation. 
10. If you have open shelving in these rooms, be sure not to clutter it up with too much stuff.  The more stuff, the messier the room is going to feel.

  Copyright Cathleen McCandless