Interior Design

The Easiest Way to Try Feng Shui

July  5, 2016

You get what you give. Paul McCartney knew this in 1969 when he sang, “And in the end the love you take is equal to the love you make,” and if a Beatle said it, it must be true. Take relationships: Friendships peter out when conversations wear thin, and any couple still enjoying their golden years together will invariably tell you the secret is hard work.

There’s another relationship that, unbeknownst to many of us, works in the same way: the relationship between you and your house. If you don’t think you and your house are in a relationship, odds are the relationship could use a little T.L.C. As Feng Shui expert Amanda Gibby Peters puts it, “I really do believe that our homes are these living, breathing partners. And it’s not so much that the home is part of your life—you get to be part of its life for a while.”

Amanda believes Feng Shui is not nearly as complicated as so many books and experts would lead us to believe; she calls her interpretation of it Simple Shui. “I start with the simple stuff," she explains, "because... if you get this stuff down, then its going to make your understanding of the more advanced concepts—which is where a lot of the books sometimes will take you—make sense or work better.”

The Simple Stuff: Love

For Peters, finding pieces for your home actually starts with love (a concept I’m sure Mr. McCartney would agree with as well). “If you love it," she says, referring to any material possession in your home, "it’s going to work because... You are the strongest chi or energy generator. That is going to make the biggest difference.”

Shop the Story

If you love pets and plants, these are living things that can fill your home with joy (just make sure to treat them with love by looking after them). This goes for all your possessions, even the inanimate: If you think you love something, but it's in the closet collecting dust, ask yourself how much you really do—or start paying it some attention.

"African violets boost our bottom line," Peters says, "the coin shaped leaves and purple blooms are both feng shui symbols of wealth."

Peters does have one caveat to this rule, however: Don’t let design take over your house. You might love the magenta wallpaper and the furry sofa and the industrial chandelier, but the effect of them all can negatively influence your home’s energy. No matter how good a design is, it cannot take precedence over feeling safe and comfortable within your own house. “Its almost like safety and comfort are the parents and design is the child,” she says, “And if you let the child run the show, it might not feel so comfortable.” (Parents everywhere say ‘Amen.’)

The Simple Stuff: Clutter

You probably already knew you weren’t going to get through this article without hearing about clutter. That’s because even without Feng Shui and without any expert advice, we know intuitively the negative effect clutter has on one’s psyche.

Clients come to Peters seeking to ameliorate a slew of problems, everything ranging from “I’m stuck” to “I can’t lose this weight” and even “why does no one notice me.” Almost every time, the answer can be distilled down to “too much stuff.” Peters teaches that in order to get something new and different in your life, you have to create space for it—literally.

You need to make space in your closet or on your shelf or somewhere else in order to see good things come your way.

Left: "Flowers are literally moving right in front of us, and every small change sends a delightful ripple into our homes." Right: "Open a few windows daily, even if it’s just for a short spell; a fresh breeze clears the air figuratively and literally."

Peters knows full well that a great deal of people consider Feng Shui to be too “woo,” as she likes to put it. And for them, she offers up a simple test anyone can run to see if all this space-clearing, energy-flowing talk actually has merit.

Choose any one space in your house—be it the garage, a closet, or a drawer—to take everything out, and then clean it, “like God is coming." Then, with awareness and intention, put back the items you want to keep. Last step: Wait and see what new or good thing comes your way. As Peters says, “The Universe always gives call-backs.”

Photos by Amanda Gibby Peters

Feng Shui: Have you tried it? Tell us in the comments.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

Interior Designer. Dallas resident. Let's do lunch? More of my musings can be found at: