Basic Guidelines for the Living Room, Bedroom and Office
Some people have a natural sense of decorating. They seem to instinctively know what to put where, and how to arrange things, “just so” in order to make a room look and feel wonderful. Other people need more help (thank goodness, or I’d be out of a job!) Below you’ll find some basic furnishing tips for three key rooms to help you choose and place furniture for each room to help make the space function, feel, and look its best.
Living Room/Family Room/ Great Room
Furnishings: I personally LOVE sectionals. They are great pieces of furniture because they allow the most people to sit comfortably in an arrangement that feels cozy and inviting. Sectionals help define a space, which is very helpful in a great room or a living room that also includes a dining area. Avoid sectionals with the attached chaise lounge as they make arranging the furniture more difficult and also provide an area for only one person to sit. Instead, purchase an ottoman coffee table. This versatile piece of furniture can be used for storage, as a coffee table, a foot rest for the whole family to use when watching TV, and provides extra seating when large groups come to visit.
In general, it’s best to choose neutral colors for furniture, especially large pieces like couches. You won’t get tired of it too soon and the furniture will be able to work even when you change your décor. To spice up a neutral couch, use accent pillows and area rugs.
Speaking of rugs, area rugs are great because they help define a space, give the room texture (especially important when you have tile or wood floors), and can be used as a color palette for pillows and accents in the room that is very neutral. Area rugs are also an easy way to quickly and easily change the way a room looks and feels.
Whether it is a table, chair, couch, love seat, or sectional, choose rounded corners and curves over sharp right angles. The room will instinctively feel softer, friendlier, and more inviting.
Arrangement: When arranging furniture in a living room, great room, or family room,consider the focal points. Focal points are a large view, a fireplace, and often the television. You want to arrange the seating so that it is easy to face the focal point(s). This is another reason a sectional is so great. If you have a fireplace on one wall and a beautiful view on an adjacent wall, you’ll have a piece of furniture that allows people to view both comfortably. If you don’t have a sectional, then remember to arrange furniture so that the main focal point is easily and comfortably visible from where you are sitting.
One thing you really need to do is avoid placing furniture directly across from each other. This is known as “confrontation position” in feng shui and is not a relaxing way to sit. It’s better to arrange furnishings in an “L” shape so that people can see each other but not be directly across from each other. This creates a more relaxing, friendlier environment.
Don’t be afraid to experiment! Pull furniture away from walls, place couches and chairs at diagonals, move the chairs, etc. The worst that happens is that you put it back the way you had it. I suggest purchasing “furniture sliders”. These are disks that you can purchase online or at stores like Target to place under the feet of your furniture, making moving even the heaviest pieces very easily. I use them every day with my clients. They’re incredible!
Furnishings: Choosing the type of mattress you like best is an individual decision, but when it comes to the bed frame itself, feng shui, offers guidelineson the type of bed frame that looks and feels best.
In feng shui, a bed with a bed frame and a headboard is much more optimal than a bed that is pushed up against the wall with no headboard. The reason for this is because we sleep better when we feel that our head is protected from behind. The truth of the matter is that although you have a wall behind your bed, the feeling of having a significant headboard behind your head is much more secure than without it. The ideal feng shui headboard would be solid wood or upholstered with no holes or slats in the headboard. I like to call this a “big boy” or “big girl” bed. Children should also have beds with headboards in order to feel safe and more restful at night. The headboard should be attached to the bed frame. There is no need for a foot board unless you choose to have one.
Place a nightstand on each side of the bed and hang artwork that is pleasant and restful. Avoid placing large pieces exercise equipment in the bedroom along with computers and other “active” things. They can be stimulating and aren’t conducive to rest and relaxation.
Arranging the Bedroom:
The very most important thing about bed arrangement is to locate the bed on the wall that allows you to see the door from where you are lying without being in direct line with it. This allows your survival instinct to relax and give you a better night’s sleep. If your bed is located too close to the bedroom door, you may feel more vulnerable because you won’t have as much time to protect yourself should someone enter the room unexpectedly. The drawing to the right illustrates the best bed position.
Furnishings: The popularity of laptops have made being tied to a computer desk virtually obsolete. I personally choose to work in my living room from a comfortable chair (like I am doing right now) rather than sit at a desk. That said, laptop or not, some people prefer doing their work at a desk. If this is the case, I have some basic guidelines for you when it comes to desks. The desk to avoid is the “hutch” type desk. This desk forces the person to sit facing the wall and has nooks and crannies that too often get filled up with clutter and junk. Instead, choose a regular rectangle or L-shaped desk. These types of desks allow you to look out into the room, creating a feeling of spaciousness and expansion, also allowing you to see the door (see below).
Choose a chair that is comfortable and ergonomic. Particularly if you sit for long period of time. Avoid placing beds in the home office if it doubles as a guest room. Opt instead for sofa beds, futons, or air mattresses. The room should feel conducive to working, not sleeping, so its furnishings should reflect the main purpose of the room.
Office Arrangement: In feng shui, it is best to sit in the “command position” in a room. This means that you can see the door without being in direct line with the door. Desks placed at angels in the far corner of the room diagonally across from the door often feel best. Also choose the room or work space carefully. You want to choose a place that feels good or your work will suffer. Parents too often try to force a child to sit at a desk when the kid would rather sit on their bed and do their homework. The truth is, your child is no different than you are. Some places are going to feel better to work than others. Forcing someone to sit where they are not happy isn’t conducive to doing a good job. It is more important that the task is done well rather than where it was done, don’t you agree?
There are tons of other ideas and suggestions from a feng shui perspective about furnishings and furniture arrangement. For more information, pick up a copy of my best-selling book, Feng Shui that Makes Sense.
copyright 2014, Cathleen McCandless All Rights Reserved.