Watch enough home decorating shows and you’ll start to think interior design is all about subway tile backsplashes, reclaimed wood, and floating kitchen islands. Sure, flashy furniture is nice—but that’s not what makes a house a home.
That’s where feng shui (pronounced fung shway) comes in. This ancient Chinese art isn’t just another design trend—its primary focus is balancing the energy flow of a room through the placement of objects. Practitioners believe everything has chi, or energy, and rearranging furniture, decorations, and appliances can affect everything from your career to love life.
It’s especially important in the kitchen. Holistic feng shui expert Laura Benko explains the kitchen is considered the heart of the home and directly relates to your health, happiness, and success.
“It's where you gather and create sustenance for you and your family, which forms the foundation of your well-being,” Benko says. “Anytime you put a fresh coat of paint on the walls, it’s instigating new, fresh energy in your life as well. You and your environment are always connected.”
That doesn’t mean you have to do a top-to-bottom renovation, “Fixer Upper” style. Instead, try these eight expert tips for bringing positive energy into the kitchen.
Get your priorities straight
In the kitchen, efficiency is key. You want to move smoothly from chopping, to sauteing, to baking without missing a beat. An organized kitchen looks different for everyone, so Benko suggests taking a moment to examine your priorities first.
“Does your family produce a ton of recyclables? Is your spice cabinet filled with dusty bottles that you never really use? Assess what's working and what’s not, as well as where the challenges are that are taking you out of an easy workflow,” Benko says.
Remove the clutter
Once you’re clear on your priorities, it’s time to remove any non-essential items. Look inside your cabinets and drawers, and toss anything you aren’t using. Old and broken items attract negative energy and take up too much space.
“Chances are you really don't need all those takeout containers you're saving or the untouched cookbooks because you use your iPad for recipes. A decluttered kitchen allows all the best to unfold in your kitchen,” Benko says.
Consider the color
There’s a reason you see so many kitchens in shades of ivory, eggshell, or beige: light, bright colors evoke cleanliness and purity. Benko says this is the ideal feng shui for the kitchen, and recommends sticking with neutrals, pastel greens, light yellows, or pale greys. Dieters might also consider blue—it suppresses the appetite.
Clean out the fridge
Since the kitchen is all about nourishment, sustainable architect and feng shui expert Anjie Cho recommends taking a good hard look at your refrigerator. Throw away any expired or spoiled food. Keeping food past its prime can reflect negatively on your health by sharing the space where you cook and eat. Plus, it’s just gross.
Check the position of your stove
The location of the stove is paramount in feng shui. It represents wealth, and ideally, it should be positioned so you can look out the door or entryway while cooking. That’s a commanding position, and allows you to feel safe, secure, and empowered. “When you can’t see what’s coming toward you, you’re under a subtle level of stress,” Cho says. “That gets into the food as you cook.”
If rearranging the kitchen is out of the question, try hanging a mirror above the stove. You’ll be able to see what’s behind you in the reflection, restoring your power and security while cooking.
Switch between burners
Raise your hand if you gravitate toward the same burner on your stove every time. It’s a natural impulse, but Cho actually recommends switching back and forth between burners to pump up the positive vibes.
“The metaphor is if you go to the same burner every day, you’re not opening up your opportunities,” she says. “Instead of going to the same thing on autopilot every morning, set this intention that you’re going to try something new.”
Bring life into the room
Look up at your cabinets. Do they reach all the way to the ceiling, or leave a foot or two of empty space at the top? If you see any dead space, that’s a problem—Cho says dead energy can collect up there.
Instead, fill the space with something light and lively. Plants bring their life force, and are always a great choice. Light fixtures will also work. If you collect something—plates, baskets, or anything beautiful—you can store those pieces up there, too.
Set a positive intention
Feng shui isn’t just about moving furniture around—the attitude with which you redo your space matters, too. Make an effort to view the redecorating and reorganizing as a positive change in your life.
“Dovetail [redecorating] with the visualization that you are also doing the same in areas of your life that need attention or that feel stuck or stagnant,” Benko says. “Fresh and clean energy—like a newly painted kitchen—sets the tone for new opportunities to flow into your life and gives you a significant subconscious boost for the better.”
Photo credit: Alicia Cho