I'm a Feng Shui Expert—and I Would Never Lay Out My Home Office This Way
As the end of year approaches, it's often easy to feel overworked, sluggish, and a little deflated. You might secretly hope that the holiday break was already here, but despite your wishful thinking, the last quarter of the year is also often the busiest. Between holiday parties and social gatherings, you're also expected to tie all your loose ends before the year's end. Cue late nights at the office or working from your sofa or bed after dinner as you try to make it to the finish line.
That said, spending hours working from your couch on weeknights or at your kitchen island on Sunday mornings might not be the most productive thing to do. Studies conducted by Alan Hedge, Ph.D. and CPE at Cornell University, found that a comfortable working environment can do more than make workers happy: It can improve productivity as well. Just like new workout clothes can motivate us to hit the gym more often, an office space with good feng shui can help us work more efficiently.
To shed light on the matter, we reached out to feng shui expert Laura Cerrano who gave us some tips on how to optimize our home office for greater motivation, productivity, and creativity. Ready to kick-start your workspace? Implement these foolproof feng shui office tips, and get the productivity boost you need.
Ask Yourself the Right Questions
"Prior to arranging any furniture, ask yourself, what is the function of my home office? Is the purpose of use for writing, marketing, web-design, or accounting? Or perhaps its geared toward the creative profession of fine arts or music production? This begins the processes of becoming decisive in piecing together a strong foundation within your office's energy field," explains Cerrano.
"Once you have that initial question answered, ask yourself, how many pieces of functional furniture do I really need within my office? This helps weed out unnecessary clutter and guide you to utilize furniture that contributes to your productiveness and sharp focus when occupying that space." The feng shui expert notes that investing time in establishing an office environment that speaks to the level of respect, motivation, and growth you envision for yourself is one of the best and easiest ways to bring good feng shui energy to your space.
Start With the Desk
"Once you have a clearer vision for the function of your office and understand what pieces of furniture you need, you can establish the arrangement of furniture," says Cerrano. She recommends starting with the desk position and building outward from there. "Essentially, you are looking for the best commanding position, which allows the occupant to literally, energetically, and metaphorically see and feel who and what opportunities are approaching their life. Positioning your desk inside any office could symbolize avoiding collaborations with unbeneficial business partners and signing contracts or agreements that are one-sided."
One of the criteria that the feng shui expert recommends for establishing a commanding position is to have a solid wall supporting you. "Using a visual cue, think of the solid wall as a mountain protecting your back. Remember, be flexible in how you interpret the feng shui principles." For example, if your floor plan only allows a desk position where your back is supported by a window, Cerrano recommends adding a few plants along the window sill or behind your desk. "The main characteristic of plants (also known as the wood element) is to offer support. Again, this is a general guideline because you need to become acquainted with your office to see what areas allow for the best commanding position and proceed from there."
If you can also try not to position your desk under ceiling beams, fans, or near protruding wall edges, she recommends avoiding it. Why? These are indications of "sha" energy or life-draining chi. "Symptoms from a feng shui perspective could be recognized as feeling tired, unfocused, or easily emotionally triggered."
Think Function First
Cerrano also reminds us to think of function above all when planning your home office space. "Remember to take into consideration the function of the office, and become decisive with the type and amount of furniture that is needed. This will save you time, money, and reduce stress," she says. "Invest in a supportive office chair, especially if you plan on sitting for several hours in a day. Experts say moving more during the workday and stretching is the best solution."
The expert also warns against a workspace that serves multiple functions: "Another hiccup to the feng shui-ing process is sharing your home office with too many people. Learn to set healthy boundaries. I've had clients who shared their office file cabinet, desk, and other means of storage with their children. The result? Toys, drawings, and homework took over their office, creating a clutter of distraction with limited storage space."
Bring the Energy In
There are a few feng shui principles you can follow to bring more energy into your space. "Make sure you have good air circulation," says Cerrano. "When the weather is good, feel free to open up the windows, and if you can't, consider looking into purchasing an air purifier (especially if your home office has no windows). Do your best to avoid locating your home office in the basement." Allowing natural light to penetrate into the office is proven to increase productivity, according to a study from Northwestern Medicine and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "On that note, if you are able to establish a commanding position that allows you to be supported by a solid wall, see the office doorway with no obstructions, and have a view of the outside, it's a triple win."
The feng shui expert also adds that adding real plants enhances any office energy by naturally cleaning the air, reducing stress, and improving communication. "Bamboo, Boston ferns, English ivy, and rubber trees are great go-to options. Including a couple images of supportive family members or other individuals who inspire you is another great energy booster."
Address Clutter and Storage
Above all, tackling your storage needs and limiting visual clutter can do a lot to boost your productivity. "Understand the use of your office, and you'll know the type of storage that is needed," says Cerrano. "Do you need to have hard copies? If so, file cabinets and closets tend to offer great storage space. Perhaps a low-sitting bookcase is best or simple shelving along the wall. If you wish to connect more with the digital age, you could store files on your computer and on an external drive. When in doubt, keep what you need, and release what you don't need. This may sound elementary, and yet it's an extremely powerful habit to adopt that transcends your physical, mental, emotional, and energetic bodies."
Be Conscious of Colors and Materials
Beyond the layout, Cerrano also recommends paying attention to colors and materials in your space. "Be mindful with the style of desk and material you choose," she says. "A rectangular wooden desk is commonly the best recommendation in feng shui. The material brings natural energy into your space, while also cultivating a nourishing and vibrant quality of energy. If you prefer a standing desk, consider researching a wooden design. In general, the size, style, and color depends on the overall room structure and intended office environment. As a side note, you may also want to consider purchasing a desk that has soft or rounded edges—even if in a rectangular or L-shape design."
As for color choices, the feng shui expert explains that it depends on your line of work. "In general, office spaces that require writing, mathematics, and science benefit from wall colors in shades of blue, green, or even beige. These are considered a strong backdrop of color. From there, you could accent the office with artwork, lighting, plants, area rugs, and anything else you need to help achieve the best focus and productivity. To stimulate the energy more, implementing touches of warm colors like red, yellow, and orange can stimulate the creative aspects of our brains. In feng shui and on a practical level, we're always looking to establish a harmonious collaboration of colors."
Nurture Your Goals Visually
"Overall, create an environment that highlights you professionally and personally," recommends Cerrano. "Your selection of décor on a subconscious level is an energetic extension of what you are attracting. For example, when I first started my business, I knew my main clients would be from the New York region, yet I was curious in extending my feng shui consulting firm to reach national and international clientele. To align that intention with the surroundings of my home office, I chose to display an antique world map. Within a short period of time, I began attracting clients beyond the New York border."
The feng shui expert notes that paying attention to what you want to attract and visually displaying those goals in your space can have an impact on your overall motivation and subsequent success. "Feng shui encourages you to learn more about yourself and discover the necessary knowledge, skills, and connections that need development for nurturing your goals. As you do this, you become more curious, motivated, inspired, and productive. Those sparks of interest could then be visually translated inside your office to offer an abundance of beneficial psychological cues."
Next up: A feng shui expert would never lay out a bedroom like this.