Literally translating to “wind and water”, feng shui is an ancient art form and philosophy that is at least 6,000 years old. The practice has its roots in China as a means of planning the placement of temples and tombs in a way that is conducive to the proper flow of both positive and negative chi (essentially a type of energy).
Over time, feng shui evolved to include palaces and homes in its list of considerations before, in the 1970’s, making its way over to the west where it has become famous as a means of interior as well as exterior design.
Feng Shui 101
Before you can put feng shui to proper use, you first need to understand the core principles which form the foundation of the philosophy. First of all, feng shui practitioners recognize five basic elements, each of which then correspond to their own colors as well as cardinal directions. These are:
Fire: red, yellow, orange, purple, and pink
Earth: brown, green, and sandy colors
Wood: green and blue
Water: blue and black
Metal: white, grey, and silver
Then there’s the Bagua, a map of eight symbols found in Taoism which each represent a different aspect of one’s life, ranging from inner knowledge to wealth. Each symbol has a path leading to it which is either broken or unbroken in an effort to maintain the proper balance of yin (negative energy) and yang (positive energy).
In With the Good, Out With the Bad
The first step to practicing feng shui outside your own home is, thankfully, also the easiest: painting your front door.
Painting your front door is an important step as your front door serves as the threshold both to and from your home and, as such, will determine the type of energy which you will be carrying with you into and out of your home.
Remember the list of elements and the colors associated with them? This is when they start to become important. Depending on the direction in which your door faces, different colors will either positively or negatively impact the flow of chi into and out of your home. To make things a little less complicated, there is a chart below to help you pick the right color for your door.
When you’re done painting your front door, it’s time to make sure the entryway surrounding it is also conducive to the proper flow of chi.
You can accomplish this mainly by cleaning up around your door (both inside and out!) and replace anything like broken pots and dim light bulbs. Also, be sure to only enter and exit through your front door; not only have you put some work into it by now but other less cared for entrances/exits won’t be anywhere near as good when it comes to taking good chi with you and leaving any bad chi where it belongs: at the door.
Backyard Ideas to Get You Started
When it comes to landscaping, be sure to once again refer back to the list of elements and colors, as this is a great opportunity to active some of the energy pockets around your backyard. Here are the basics:
North: associated with your career, this is a great spot in your yard for a water feature like a fountain or a small pond.
Northeast: representing spiritual growth and inner knowledge, place your garden in this section of your yard.
East: this is the perfect spot for a long-living tree as this area is associated with health and longevity.
Southeast: activate this area with purple and gold colors, as well as wood accents, to have better financial luck.
South: associated with fire, this is the perfect spot for a grill or fire pit.
Southwest: this area corresponds to love and relationships, so make this a comfy spot with lots of pinks, red, and yellow.
West: as this direction is for creativity, this would be a great spot to either set up an easel (or another artistic endeavor) or to reserve for children.
Northwest: home to new people and travel, this is a good area to allow new and old friends to mingle and can be activated by metal elements and metallic colors.
When you’re designing your garden, also be mindful of what shape you decide to construct it in. You want to go for more winding, flowing, river-like shapes, and steer clear of boxes and hard edges as these don’t occur in nature.
Since you’re already heading out to get some exterior paint for your front door, take a look at the rest of your home too. In order to achieve a proper balance with nature, your home should match its surroundings, be they natural or man-made. You do, however, want some pops of color on accents such as window trim, which should match your front door. Following this rule will allow your house to be more harmonious with its’ surroundings and attract more good chi.