Feng shui is a little like astrology. Whether you actually believe in it (or not), learning its inner workings and understanding how it can impact your everyday life is somewhat fascinating. Whether we're talking new moons and planet alignments or bedroom colors and under-bed storage, the link between environment and energy is an abstract concept—but that doesn't mean that its concrete implications in everyday life need to be confusing as well.
No, feng shui consultants won't encourage you to float your bed at a weird angle in the middle of the room and paint your walls four different colors (at least not the ones we spoke to). In fact, feng shui terminology prefers the term principles to rules. Why? "Principles are meant to be flexible, which allows the mind more room for creative solutions when needed," says New York–based feng shui consultant Laura Cerrano.
Instead, feng shui is actually rooted in common sense: Don't live in an insane amount of clutter, turn off your electronics, make your bed every morning. In certain ways, feng shui sounds more like your mom scolding you at 16 than an ancient Chinese practice.
There's another reason to adopt feng shui principles, especially in the bedroom: The flow of energy and how you position your furniture can actually impact your sleep—something we could frankly all use a little more of. Not convinced? Try out a few of these feng shui practices, and tell us how you slept.
One of the most important things in laying out your bedroom is to leave equal room on both sides of the bed. "This is symbolic of creating equal space for both you and your partner," explains feng shui expert Laura Cerrano. "Sometimes the dimensions of a bedroom don't allow for this arrangement, so holding the intention of creating space is essential. Even if you could only spare an inch of space between the wall and bed, it's better than nothing. Besides that, having two side tables and lamps is a great go-to general recommendation because it relates to balance." If not for feng shui reasons, we also think symmetry looks better.
Set a Commanding Position
"The most common feng shui principle in the bedroom is to have a commanding position," says Cerrano. "This allows the occupant to literally, energetically, and metaphorically see and feel who and what opportunities are approaching their life. An ideal layout would be to have a clear vantage point of the bedroom door from the bed, while not being 100% in alignment with the doorway."
The same goes for the ensuite bath: "If you have a master bathroom connected to your bedroom, you would also want to avoid placing your bed in direct alignment with the bathroom door. Some feng shui consultants will say the bathroom is associated with energy drain, which is why it's suggested to avoid this type of bed positioning."
Adopt a Less-Is-More Approach
It might be tempting to treat your bedroom as a storage unit, but Cerrano warns against having too much stuff in your in there. In fact, studies conducted by St. Lawrence University in 2015 suggest a correlation between excessive bedroom clutter and sleep disturbances, which could lead to depression and irritability. "Feng shui principles invite you to remove electronics from inside the bedroom: TVs, computers, and cell phones emit the largest amounts of electric and magnetic fields, which could disturb your immune system and sleep," explains Cerrano.
"Keep work life out of your bedroom," she adds. "The bedroom is a place for rest, rejuvenation, and reconnection. Space can be tight, especially in studios and one-bedroom apartments, but if you can create a work area in your home that is away from the bedroom, it will help improve your quality of sleep."
Limit the Number of Mirrors
Mirrors in the bedroom can seem like a natural fit for many, but feng shui warns against overusing them: "There are varying thoughts on this, but the one perspective many consultants could agree upon is that adding too many mirrors in the bedroom creates an imbalance of energy," says Cerrano.
"It's believed that mirrors have the ability to activate the energy within a room. Clients I work with will sometimes choose to keep a mirror in their bedroom and tell me that they sleep soundly. Others will negotiate the principle and remove extra mirrors and still keep one while being mindful of what it reflects. Some clients love the idea of no mirrors in the bedroom or may just place a long mirror inside the closet door. If you do that, just make sure the closet is organized because mirrors double what they project.
The most important thing is to test and measure this feng shui insight because every person is different. Find what works for you."
Ground the Space With a Rug
People sometimes avoid rugs in the bedroom because larger-scale ones can be expensive, but Cerrano insists it's a worthwhile investment for your sleep: "Adding an area rug under or near the bed is another way to help ground the energy when sleeping and create a balance between yin (soft textures) and yang (hard surfaces)." Having two smaller rugs on each side can achieve a similar effect without the costly price tag.
Avoid Under-Bed Storage
A common place for storage in the bedroom is usually under the bed, but Cerrano believes it's not good practice: "This may not be the most ideal place for extra storage. Why? From a feng shui perspective, storage under the bed can obstruct your sleeping pattern because the movement of energy cannot flow evenly around the energy fields of your bed. For instance, shoes are suggested to be stored in closets because they symbolize other people potentially taking advantage of you."
The feng shui consultant recognizes that it's not always possible to leave the under-bed area completely clutter-free: "If you do need to store items under the bed, be mindful of who gave these items to you and what emotional content you associate with them." She adds that some items—specifically bedding, clothing, and towels—are better to store under the bed than others. A small number of books is also acceptable, as long as their titles and content are positive.
Always Make Your Bed
This practice speaks more to everyday habits than layout or décor, but Cerrano stresses that it's nonetheless important: "Making your bed may seem small and insignificant, yet a greater development within your conscious and subconscious minds is evolving. This simple act becomes your first accomplishment of the day and it only requires two minutes of your time. This also creates a mind-set of being organized, which helps reduce stress and increase motivation. It’s also a means of self-respect, because it means you've taken the time to prepare your bed for sleep as your mom or dad may have done during childhood.
It's a little slice of self-love."
Open Your Blinds Every Day
Just like making your bed in the morning, opening your blinds before you head out for work may not be engrained in your daily rituals, but it should be: "Opening your blinds and your windows (if weather permits) during the day is a wonderful habit to acquire," says Cerrano. "This is called letting the outside in. It helps to refresh the energy by allowing natural light and fresh air to filter into your bedroom. At night, close the windows and blinds as to keep the fresh energy circulating inside your bedroom when sleeping." Even if you won't be there to enjoy the natural light, let it stream in while you're at work (just don't leave your windows opened and unattended—burglary is never good for feng shui).
Keep Colors Neutral
You may be inclidned to go bright green in a bedroom, but Cerrano suggests it's not such a good idea. "Pick neutral colors when painting large walls to not overstimulate the energy when you are sleeping. This could include beiges, cream colors, and earth tones. You could even include some cool blue tones. For smaller accent colors, pick colors associated with partnership energy: pinks, reds, and whites. This could be implemented through artwork, small crystals (like rose quartz), organic candles or bed sheets.
Essentially, you are creating a sacred and sensual space for yourself and to share with another—if that is your intention. The addition of certain feng shui colors is just one way to assist in the atmospheric rendering of good feng shui."
Next up: These bedroom decorating mistakes are actually disrupting your sleep.