Some décor rules are simple to grasp. It's easy to understand why large rugs make a room look spacious or why dark paint visually shrinks a space, but not all decorating rules rely on sight. Kelsey Patel, a Reiki healer and spiritual empowerment coach, says if you only consider the way your room looks, you're making a mistake.
Patel says that it's equally important to consider the positive energy of your room and the items in it. A certified Reiki practitioner, she explains that everything has a "life energy" flowing through it and that the items we surround ourselves with can have a very real impact on our emotional and spiritual well-being.
It's not such a stretch. Patel's approach to decorating explains why cluttered homes make us feel stressed or why you might struggle to relax in a bedroom that's bursting with brightly patterned accessories and busy artwork. Take note: These seven items are ruining the energy in your bedroom. Here's how to fix it.
Bright Bed Linen
This is one of the easiest ways to transform a chaotic space into a serene one with positive energy: Update the bed linen. According to Patel, bright colors and busy patterns should be avoided. "If you have bold colors or wild patterns in your bedroom, just notice how rested you feel at night and in the morning when you wake up," she says. "If you feel that you have trouble falling asleep or feel anxious when you wake up, you may want to consider trying a more neutral color pattern and see if your energy shifts."
"If you wake up and see chaos, you may not realize it, but the energy of that chaos can imprint clutter and disorganization into the mind," Patel tells MyDomaine. It's not just a hunch—science suggests this has serious merit. A UCLA study found that women who live in a cluttered environment are likely to have high levels of cortisol, a stress-related hormone.
If you're a naturally messy person, pay attention to storage. Open shelves or clothes racks that put items on display instantly make a room look cluttered. "When your closet is more organized and has space for you to see things and easily get to your items, it makes your mind feel more at ease," says Patel. "It's subtle, but it makes a very big difference."
Surprisingly, Patel says fresh flowers shouldn't be displayed in the bedroom. "Most people initially think of flowers or plants in the bedroom; however, I learned in feng shui that it's actually not recommended, because it takes away oxygen, and you need that, especially during your sleep cycle," she explains.
Instead, she recommends a single candle or burning essential oils to create a calm environment. "I believe smells are a very personalized experience. I love lavender, peppermint, sandalwood, and ylang-ylang." If you're trying to wind down after a long day, she says citrus scents should be avoided. "I don't recommend orange, lemon, or grapefruit before bed, because they bring a big zest and sensation of energy," she says. "I do, however, love them in the morning time." She stores these invigorating oils in the kitchen, rather than the bedroom, to separate the energy.
Lighting can have a profound effect on mood. "In the evening, always go for soft lighting so your eyes can begin to relax and prepare for rest," says Patel. She says every bedroom should have table lamps or sconces with soft lighting: "Pendants and floor lamps are good too, but try to find something with a dimmer so you can be mindful of the time of day."
Technology can also alter the energy in your bedroom. "I also do my best to stay off of my phone and computer at least an hour before bedtime so I can unwind and detach from the energy of technology," she says. "Reading, meditating, or journaling with soft lighting is a great way to unwind the eyes at night."
Pay attention to the furniture in your room and ask yourself: Does it have a clear purpose? Is it inviting? "Having furniture you don't ever use or that has too many sharp edges can be unwelcoming and create a feeling of discomfort in the room," Patel explains. Instead, she recommends furniture with soft, organic lines that are inviting.
When choosing furniture, Patel takes a similar approach to Marie Kondo and recommends buying items that spark joy rather than simply fulfill a need. "My favorite things in my bedroom are a meditation chair and a new piece of art we recently purchased. Seeing those two pieces reminds me to take time for myself. Even if I'm quickly running through the room to grab something, it's like a little soft greeting to take a breath and remember to simply be."
While Patel says countertop clutter should be kept to a minimum, there's one item she styles in excess: crystals. They don't just look beautiful, either—each crystal has a purpose, she explains. "On the mantle across from our bed is a big beautiful crescent-shaped smoky quartz with black tourmaline for grounding and protecting. [I also have] raw amethyst to bring in the higher realm of dreams and lepidolite, which is sometimes called the Prozac of the crystal kingdom because it is known to decrease stress, anxiety, and anger," she says. "Then, next to my husband's mantel is black labradorite for dissolving negative energy and protection."
One of the most common mistakes people make in their bedroom is their choice of photographs and artwork. "According to feng shui, the bedroom should create a feeling of intimacy, serenity, and comfort. In this way, I was taught that it's important to create intimacy in the room, which is why we only have pictures of my husband and me in our room, even though we have two children," she explains. "It really makes us both feel it's our sacred space."
This post was originally published on February 28, 2017, and has since been updated.