Feng Shui For Everyday: Tiny Apartment

Dear Lynn,
My new apartment is tiny — just 300 square feet! It’s in a very old house and the floors are slanted; a marble would roll to the other side of the room if placed at the high side of the floor. Would living in an apartment with slanted floors have any effects on my life and do you have any suggestions about this? I’d also appreciate any advice you can give me to provide the effect of more spaciousness in such a tiny apartment. I have no closet space! Thanks Lynn! I love reading your column. — A. Retsil, Needham, MA

Dear A.R.,

Dilemmas like this are good reminders that the core of feng shui is balance. When arranging the space try placing tall objects — plants, lamps, bookcases — on the lower slanted sides. Depending on your furnishing style you could try high backed chairs or pieces that are more vertical than horizontal in appearance. On the upper side place furniture and objects that are lower and bring a downward focus. This will help in balancing the sloping sensation. Another method could be to create a bevy of large floor pillows on a thick rug that “catch” the downward slide. Try arranging artwork or strategically placed scones at the same level around one or more walls in the main room.

You are wise to consider the cumulative effect of the slanting floors. The comfort and enjoyment of the space itself may override the slant. If, however, you have hip, back, leg or foot problems they could be exacerbated over time because your body has to routinely compensate.

Since the space is tiny the entrance is especially important. It should be pleasing to you — gentle and strong — emphasizing the sweetness of a small space, its concentrated potency being one of its benefits. It’s also important that you love and use what’s in your space. Keep that in mind when making decisions about what to keep or discard.

To increase the sensation of spaciousness use imagery or art, such as mirrors that look like windowpanes and artwork that suggests depth. Choose photos, images and artwork of places with which you have very positive associations, which enlarges your personal energy field. Give your windows emphasis in some way to strengthen a connection to the outside environment.

The more you love your environment the more it loves you. These suggestions will hopefully allow you to more fully enjoy and appreciate the grace of an older home.

Hi Lynn,
Recently we did some rearranging in our house and things didn’t feel good. I started to have trouble sleeping and not feeling as relaxed or comfortable in the space, so my husband and I researched feng shui at our library and found your articles. I was surprised to see that people often use feng shui for healing the body. My son and I were diagnosed with Lyme disease this year and are still overcoming it but doing much better. Anything that can help us heal faster would be super!

To give you an idea of the layout, our house is 1100 sq. feet. The layout is very open with exposed beams in a large living/dining/kitchen combo room with a fireplace, a bedroom loft with slanted ceilings, and two small bedrooms and bath off the large room. We live in the last house on a dead end street with no turnabout. Our bay window faces the neighbor’s house that is constantly under construction and their driveway is filled with old cars, pool tables, a broken down dump truck, etc. Would it be best to hang plants in our bay window or wind chimes to counteract this? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. We love reading your articles! — Laina

Dear Laina,
Many conditions and symptoms are created or reinforced by bad feng shui. It’s not uncommon for people in therapy — conventional or alternative — to experience relief with their treatments that weakens when going back home. “I was feeling better but as soon as I walked in the door my energy crashed. It seemed like nothing had really changed.” In your case, Laina, this might happen as soon as you turn onto your dead end street!

Being the last house on a dead end street with no turnabout puts you in a vulnerable position. Energy flows pointedly down the road directly at your house. This is a predictor of external challenges many people never have to endure. Problems come out of nowhere to visit you. What’s needed is something that creates a barrier between your home and that oncoming traffic. Depending on available space I suggest plantings such as arbor vitae trees. If you use a “living wall” of greens it must at least include some prominent evergreens, or in winter you’ll be left with bare sticks that resemble a cage. New and fast growing plantings could be embellished with boulders, perhaps with an inset of flowering trees. You could also use a protective statue or a water feature, depending on your means. Be sure it pleases you and until you can implement some changes, place a small mirror on the front of your house facing out to the street to deflect that onslaught. Don’t leave this predicament unaddressed. If you drive past a Dead End sign on the approach to your house, employ the affirmation of “new beginnings” in some way, perhaps a plaque on your entry door.

The fact that your bay window frames a filthy, decrepit construction site is just plain visual cruelty. No, don’t hang anything there. You can’t afford the tentativeness of hanging items. Work from the base of the window up. Create a beautiful windowsill with plants and items that uplift you. If you like chimes, place them over the stove where you’d be standing while using it or just inside the door you usually use so that they tinkle a bit when you come and go. That sound will subtly change your energy for the better a bit and intervene with any negativity experienced in your approach to the house.

Even though it’s small, an open floor plan in your house is of concern because of your location at the end of the street and exterior vulnerability issues. An open floor plans allows much of your living space to be seen from outside. It’s something to be aware of in creating a barrier in front of your house. As you pleasantly adorn the bay window, think about curtains or blinds that can be closed at night when the interior lighting more fully illuminates your main living area. Use rugs, bookcases, plants or whatever is available to create areas within areas so that energy is grounded and oriented and can better nourish you. A large leafy plant could be placed adjacent to the corner of a couch or end table. Make some very simple adjustments such as a rug under the dining table to achieve a demarcation of spaces. A small red Oriental rug upgrades any challenged area to “red carpet” status.

The large exposed beams could be painted a color lighter than, or the same as the ceiling, to make their presence appear less dominant. Avoid positioning furniture directly under the beams when you can. When you can’t, arrange the furniture so that when people use it they don’t have to be directly under the beams.

Upstairs, balance the slanted ceilings with upward directed objects, plants, lights. Do your best to make the locations of the beds as “nest-like” as you can and not in direct line of the door. The nest feeling is easily created when there’s a stable chest at the end of the bed.

Dear Lynn,
I just moved into a complex of twenty 3-story condos squeezed onto a small piece of land. I can look into my neighbor’s windows across the way, and obviously, they can see into mine. I have curtain sheers up and want to allow in the light during the day. I can close drapes at night and pull shades, however our very large windows do not have shades, but fancy window dressing that is cumbersome to close up. Do you have any feng shui advice or suggestions about handling this? What are the feng shui benefits of my situation? — SB

Hi SB,
Light and moderate height are the feng shui benefits. Here are some ideas to make the most of it.

Sheers don’t do much beyond obscuring detail. There are shades that operate from the low part of the window and go up. They’re great in that they allow light in while providing privacy. If your neighbors are significantly higher than you this will be only partially remedial. If treatment for the large windows is cumbersome to maneuver, consider getting rid of it. It compounds the challenge you already face.

Another approach would be to have plants at windowsill height, benefiting from the light and serving as a living boundary. This approach redirects your attention and enhances the ways in which you are more pronouncedly the viewer instead of the viewee.

The late Lynn Taylor was a senior feng shui practitioner, teaching and consulting in the United States and Mexico for both business and home environments.