Living Space: Boost romantic quotient
No matter if it's the year of the dragon, the horse or the sheep, the philosophical principles of feng shui can add harmony to your interior design - and even inject a new spirit of romance.
Feng shui is the Chinese art of determining the most propitious design of a room or building (and the placement of objects within), so that maximum harmony is achieved between the environment and the user. The term comes from the Chinese words "feng" (wind) and "shui" (water).
A driving principle of feng shui is that there are eight pillars of happiness, including love and romance.
There is a discrepancy between feng shui fact and fiction, however. Not everything considered feng shui is suited for the bedroom, nor will it necessarily inspire romance.
Designers are split over the matching nightstand issue. Some say bedside tables should be different and not look uniform. Others say matched nightstands create balance in the room. Feng shui experts fall on the side of matching nightstands. Symbolically, this look says a couple is bonded, and matching nightstands create a sentry effect that plays to the bed - and the relationship - making a visual statement that both are important and primary in the room.
Feng shui effects
Another critical disagreement relates to what constitutes feng shui. Some say water fountains, wind chimes and plants create great chi (energy), but not in the bedroom. In the Chinese view, water is money and hearing water running while you're in bed is listening to money drain away. In this view, plants are also a strain on relationships and should not be placed in a bedroom. While these accents might make for a delightful room, the primary importance of a couple's bedroom is rest and romance, and these elements sap both.
What to do?
If you're interested in using feng shui to revive romance or to keep the flames burning, keep in mind that the main purposes of a bedroom are sleeping and creating intimacy in your relationship. With that in mind, it's important to remove all work-related objects, such as treadmills, computers or desks. Clear out all photos except for images of yourselves. Mirrors should be removed because they're stimulating and can cause sleep disruption and insomnia.
Another source of concern is the television. While it's not advisable to have a TV in the bedroom, the newer flat screen versions are better than older, tube-style sets, say feng shui experts. Older TVs have shiny glass screens that reflect the bedroom when the set is off, acting much like a mirror. Flat screens, with their matte black appearance, are less stimulating.
And like TV, everything in the bedroom space exerts an influence on us during sleep, when we're most vulnerable. For that reason, under the principles of feng shui, it's important to choose artwork and symbols carefully. Flowers should be avoided because they deplete a man's yang energy, cooling off passion.
If romance has faded, select artwork that features pairs, especially pairs of birds or butterflies, the Chinese symbol of renewed love. Color also exerts an influence. Selecting colors that are skin-toned, such as beige, pink, tan or brown, will keep the interest going for physical touch.
Make sure your bed is sound and the mattress comfortable; a broken down mattress can create a stale love life, as can going without a headboard. In feng shui, making sure the bedroom promotes love and rest helps couples see that they have both.
Kathryn Weber is a home and decorating columnist and publishes the Red Lotus Letter feng shui E-zine. For more information, contact Weber through her website, redlotusletter.com.