This is an excerpt from my book, Feng Shui that Makes Sense:
Easy Ways to Create a Home that FEELS as Good as it Looks. All material is copyright protected and cannot be copied, reproduced or sold without written permission.
When balancing the way a room feels we must consider its function. A room we use for sleeping has different requirements than a room we use for entertaining. A room that is dark and quiet would be classified as a “Yin” space and is more
conducive for sleep. A room that is bright and active is a “Yang” space and
would be better for socializing.
One of the most common comments I hear from my clients is that,
try as they might, a particular room does not feel right to them. This
situation can be caused by subtle features in the room that may feel unsafe,
things like the positioning of furniture or sharp points and edges can make a
room feel uncomfortable on a subconscious level. The room may look attractive, yet there is something that just doesn’t feel quite right.
The first thing to address is whether or not the basic principles of Feng Shui have been followed. The following are examples of qualities that can make a room feel uncomfortable.
- Are there an abundance of right angles or sharp edges in the room?
- Is the furniture arranged to best serve the function of the room
(entertaining, working, sleeping, etc.)?
- Are there heavy items hung above head level or any pieces of furniture that feel oppressive or unsafe (a tall bookcase too close to a chair, a shelf
or cabinet hanging on a wall above a seating area)?
Once the safety factors have been addressed, the room may still
feel like something is “off” and is not yet a place where people want to spend
much time. This is when we begin to employ the Goldilocks Principle to help
identify the aspects of a room that may be creating a feeling of imbalance. In
traditional feng shui, the Goldilocks Principle is known as the “Yin/Yang
To find out if you need to apply The Goldilocks Principle to a
room, you can use the Yin/Yang checklist below. The checklist will help you
determine if there is too much or too little of something in a room. You can
balance the room by adding or subtracting items that the checklist points out
- Use three words to describe this room: _________, __________, ________.
- There is too much ________________ in this room.
- There is too little ________________ in this room.
For example, you may have a guest room that just doesn’t feel
right. You might describe the room with these three words: stuffy,
The next thing to do is think of the opposite meaning for each word:
You then might say, “There is too much old furniture in this room.”
“There is too little color in this room.”
You have now indentified ways for the room to change. You will
have discovered that you need to remove some of the old furniture in the room
to update it and give it more spaciousness. You also might want to consider
painting it a new color, or update the comforter to add some interest and color to the drab room. By using the Yin/Yang worksheet and these simple statements you will get a better idea of where you need to start and what you need to do to make a room feel better.
When you realize where the imbalances are in your space, you can
correct them by bringing in items or colors of the opposite quality to make the
space feel better. Everything should feel “just right,” or it will start to get
to you and negative feelings will compound.
As part of my Feng Shui practice, I am often asked to help stage
homes for sale. One of my clients had a home that was reasonably priced, yet
this home would not sell. I knew right away the living room was one of the
biggest problems. The floors of the house were covered with polished marble
tile, the couches and chairs were upholstered with leather, the windows shaded
with plastic vertical blinds, and the tables were all glass with metal legs.
All of these hard shiny surfaces made the home feel extremely cold and
uninviting (similar to the feeling in the picture below). My client knew that potential buyers were saying that her home felt
“too cold,” yet she had no idea how to fix the problem.
It was time to utilize The Goldilocks Principle. I told my client
that the extreme amount of cold, hard surfaces in the home needed to be
balanced with texture and fabric in order to warm the house up. The fact that potential buyers were using the word “too” to describe the feeling in her home (“The house feels too cold”) helps identify what the problem with the home was. My client’s choice in décor left the house feeling “too” cold. I encouraged her to buy some thick, textured rugs for the floors, drapes for the windows, and fabric throw pillows on the couches in colors to match the rugs. She also needed to add some healthy plants in order to bring a more vibrant, natural feeling to the home.
Once my client applied the changes to her home the results were
staggering. Within two days of bringing balance into the décor of her home, my
client’s house sold. The new owners even commented on how “warm” and “inviting” the house felt! By using the Goldilocks Principle (the balance of extremes) we were able to quickly transform her living room into a space that was not only attractive, but felt friendlier and more comfortable at the same time.
Using the Yin/Yang
After you have answered the questions at the top of the page,
place a check mark in the category where you feel the items in a room fall.
When you are finished, tally the check marks in each category, Yin or Yang.
If the totals are close, the room is most likely well-balanced.
Large discrepancies between the Yin and Yang tallies indicate features you may
wish to add or remove in order to create a more harmonious environment. Go back
over the items you checked in each column to see what you may wish to remove
from one column and add to the other to help the room feel better. Remember,
that the balance of Yin and Yang energy differs based on the function of the
Complete these sentences describing the room.
1. Type of room (eg. living room, dining, bedroom, etc.)
2. The function of this room is (eg. sleeping, cooking, gathering,
3. I feel this room is too (eg. hot, cold, dry, wet, dark, frilly,
4. If I could change anything about this room it would be
5. Three words that describe this room are
a. ____________________ b. ____________________ c.
Place a checkmark in the appropriate column. If you aren’t sure,
just leave it blank. If the item falls in between the two categories just go on
to the next one. This is not a scientific study, it is simply a way to help you
determine what you may or may not need to adjust to make the room feel better.
Main Colors ____ Dark ____ Light
Floor Covering ____ Rugs/Carpet ____ Wood/Stone
Size of Room ____ Small ____ Large
Ceiling Height ____ Low ____ High
Sound Levels ____ Quiet ____ Noisy
Organization ____ Cluttered ____ Organized
Room Location ____ Back ____ Front
Natural Light ____ Low ____ Bright
Furniture Lines ____ Curved ____ Straight
Artwork ____ Complex ____ Simple
Window Treatment ____ Fabric/Drapes ____ Wood/Blinds
Plants ____ Several____ Few/None
Materials ____ Natural ____ Man-made
Totals ____ Yin ____ Yang
Once you have applied the Goldilocks Principle to a room, you’ll
find it is much easier to determine what needs to stay, and what needs to go in
order to make the space feel more pleasant and more comfortable.
To learn the next step in creating a happy, harmonious space, please pick up a copy of Cathleen’s best-selling new book, Feng Shui that Makes Sense: Easy Ways to Create a Home that FEELS as Good as it Looks.