When I needed to find a way to soften a home that was heavy on the metal element, I first considered the other elements of feng shui, the idea being to bring balance. However, I quickly realized that a balance of elements wasn’t going to be enough. The architecture and colors involved meant that unless I was prepared to make major changes, I was going to have to find another way to address the issue.
Since I’m a fan of implementing small changes that pack a big punch, I considered what it was I was trying to achieve. What was the feeling, the ambiance I wanted to have?
What solved my problem was to focus on a theme that would produce that ambiance. For example, if I wanted to introduce an Asian theme I could bring a very zen and minimalist feel.
I could grab onto one of my favorite vases as the central focus and bring a Grecian style in, adding artwork of the Greek isles.
I could go with the natural architecture and introduce a theme that is in sync with the features of the home.
I could focus on the flooring and use the wood to introduce a nautical theme ala Joe’s Crab Shack, or focus on one of two different types of tile, and draw out colors that give either an ocean or forest feel.
If someone wanted the feel of a French Winery, they could bring in wooden barrels to use as a table or storage, wine racks, and hang photos of the French countryside, complete with either vineyards or lavender, or some other subject that reflects such a theme.
Selecting a theme around which to focus your feng shui efforts can make decorating much easier. Do you want your bathroom to have a spa feel to it or a casual feel, as if you’ve just come in from a hike in the woods?
If you want a spa feel, a stop at Crabtree & Evelyn would enable you to pick up soaps and other accesories that lend that sophisticated feel. You could purchase a few fluffy hand towels in neutral colors or stop over at Bed, Bath & Beyond and purchase an inexpensive towel holder and monogrammed towel napkins to put in it.
If you want a casual feel, striped towels in a towel ring with a candle or fragrance reeds paired with a small casual floor mat may do the trick.
If you think working with a theme would be a good place to begin, I’d suggest starting by sitting or standing in the room you want to work on first and allow yourself to feel what the room would be like if it were in your theme.
If you were in Japan, would your dining room be separated from your living room by a Shoji screen?
If you were in Greece, would blue and white accents fill the area?
If you wanted to focus on a time period rather than a geography, say the late 18th century, then you may be looking at pewter and wood as your focal points (think of the father’s house in the movie National Treasure).
Don’t be afraid to interpret the theme through your own feng shui eyes. The idea is to bring into the environment the feeling that works best for you. You want it to be in harmony with the life you are living.
One caveat. If you share your space with others, be considerate and recognize that while you may love Boston circa 1776, they may be very partial to Spain, 2011, so be prepared to compromise.
There is actually quite a bit of flexibility even within a theme. If you have an overall goal for a home that reflects total sophistication, you can choose from almost any theme since most cultures or time periods have styles of sophistication as well as casual, trendy, and a host of other variations.
Don’t get stuck on the idea that every room needs to have the same color scheme or artwork and accessories. Think in terms of theme. Casual? Work with what is there and just make sure the feeling you are after is repeated throughout.
Romantic? That doesn’t mean you have to bring pinks and pastels (or whatever your interpretation of romance is) into every room. You could use doilies in the bathroom, lace in the bedroom, French bistro in the kitchen, candles in the dining room, soft lighting and music in the living room.
Test drive the theme. If you think Tuscany is your theme, try to locate an Italian restaurant decorated in such a style. How do you feel when you’re in there? Do you like the colors? Is there something you want to replicate?
Visit bookstores and flip through coffee table books that focus on the theme. Find a magazine in the travel section that matches what you’re looking for. What do you love? What makes you cringe?
If you think wine country living is the style you want but you live in Montana, look online. Napa Style has stores and catalogues, both online and that they mail.
Ask others. Maybe you know you want a feeling of energy but you aren’t sure exactly how that would translate. Talk to people who know you and ask what they believe your style is. You may be surprised at the answer and it may give you a starting point to launch from.
Finally, have fun and don’t worry. If you don’t get it right the first time, don’t be afraid to try, try again.