Feng shui, an ancient Chinese perspective rooted in the belief that everything (including the arrangement of a room, like your bedroom) possesses energy, is a little like astrology. Whether you believe in it or not, learning its inner workings and understanding how it can impact your everyday life is somewhat fascinating. As it relates to home decorating, the right feng shui is believed to balance the energy that flows into and around your space and can have an impact on our wellbeing, relationships, and even our wallets.
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.
When it comes to arranging your bedroom, for example, feng shui consultants won't demand you 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). Instead, feng shui principles are malleable. "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.
Meet the Expert
After studying with some of the finest masters in feng shui and shamanism, Laura Cerrano received her Feng Shui Certification under the guidance of her mother and mentor, Certified Feng Shui Master Carole Provenzale, in 2000.
There's another reason to adopt feng shui principles, especially in the bedroom: According to feng shui, 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 nine feng shui practices, plus 11 more tips, 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 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."
For balance, try placing two side tables and two lamps in your bedroom—one side table and one lamp on each side of the bed. Plus, symmetry is pleasing to the eye.
Establish a Commanding Position
"The most common feng shui principle in the bedroom is to have a commanding position," says Cerrano. This means positioning your bed with a clear vantage point of the bedroom door from the bed while avoiding being 100 percent in alignment with the doorway, Cerrano says.
The result? "This allows the occupant to literally, energetically, and metaphorically see and feel who and what opportunities are approaching their life."
The same goes for the ensuite bath, says Cerrano. "If you have a primary bathroom connected to your bedroom, you would also want to avoid placing your bed in direct alignment with the bathroom door."
The term “Primary Bathroom” is now widely used to describe the largest bathroom in the home, as it better reflects the space’s purpose. Many realtors, architects, interior designers, and the Real Estate Standards Association have recognized the potentially discriminatory connotations in the term “Master.” Read more about our Diversity and Inclusion Pledge.
Adopt a Less-Is-More Approach
It might be tempting to treat your bedroom as a storage unit, but Cerrano warns against filling it with too much stuff. In fact, Harvard Medical School recommends minimizing clutter in the bedroom environment to improve sleep quality, which in turn promotes better health and aging well.
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 agree upon is that adding too many mirrors in the bedroom creates an imbalance of energy," says Cerrano.
According to feng shui principles, mirrors have the ability to activate the energy within a room, yet the most important thing is to test this for yourself because every person is different, says Cerrano. "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, Cerrano adds, "just make sure the closet is organized because mirrors double what they project."
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: "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 example, Cerrano suggests storing shoes in closets because otherwise, "they symbolize other people potentially taking advantage of you."
The feng shui consultant recognizes that it's not always possible to leave the area under the bed 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."
Making the bed every morning can kickstart an organized mindset, which helps reduce stress and increase motivation, Cerrano says. "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 ingrained 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 open and unattended—burglary is never good for feng shui).
Keep Colors Neutral
You may be inclined to go bright green in a bedroom, but Cerrano advises against it if you're considering feng shui principles. Instead, "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."
The goal is to create a sacred and sensual space for yourself and to share with another—if that is your intention, says Cerrano. "The addition of certain feng shui colors is just one way to assist in the atmospheric rendering of good feng shui."
Keep the Bed Away From the Bathroom Door
Don't align your bed directly with the bathroom door. Some feng shui consultants will say the bathroom is associated with energy drain, and suggest avoiding positioning your bed this way.
Similarly, "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.
The same goes for work-related gadgetry and papers, Cerrano says. "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."
Bring the Outside In (or Not)
Feng shui experts are divided on plants in the bedroom. Some say plants (including other wooden accents) contain too much energetic yang energy, while others say a large bedroom can accommodate a small plant or a single palm.
Balance All Five Elements
Elements of wood, fire, metal, earth, and water should all be represented equally for good feng shui. Express these elements through your bedroom's color palette, textures, shapes, and decorative objects.
Add a Supportive Headboard
In feng shui, a headboard symbolizes support. Just make sure it's securely attached and opt for soft edges (and avoid activating materials like iron) when possible.
Be Mindful of What You Hang Overhead
Avoid inviting threatening energy into the bedroom by keeping the space directly above your head free and clear. Or at least choose artwork made from softer material or a piece that features a soothing pattern.
Nourish the Senses
When accessorizing your bedroom, think about appealing to the five senses: touch, sight, smell, sound, and taste. Think feel-good textiles, a vanilla-scented candle, a jar of water nearby, and maybe even a white noise machine or a soothing bedtime playlist.
Watch Out for Sharp Corners
Evaluate your bedroom for any sharp or protruding corners, and if needed, reposition your furniture so these corners aren't pointing directly at your head.
Assess Your Furniture
Tall, looming pieces of furniture have a tendency to give off constrictive energy in the bedroom. Feng shui experts recommend keeping these pieces, like bookshelves, outside of the bedroom.
Avoid Water Features
While water elements can improve good feng shui in the home, features like fountains, artwork depicting oceans, rivers, etc. should also be kept outside of the bedroom—they give off too much energetic yang energy.
Invest in a Full or Queen Bed
If possible, feng shui experts recommend investing in a full-sized bed or larger. Any smaller and the chi won't circulate as smoothly in the room.
Successful Aging: 10 Tips for Better Sleep. Harvard Medical School. July 28, 2017