Small apartments present a design challenge that has vanquished many a renter: How do you maximize efficiency without sacrificing aesthetics? Luckily, you don’t have to be an interior designer to arrange your furniture and belongings in a pleasing, relaxing way. You also don’t have to necessarily structure your life according to ancient Chinese philosophy to employ the principles of feng shui to organize your apartment.
What, Exactly, is Feng Shui?
In brief, feng shui is a system of organization and interior design that attempts to encourage the ebb and flow of positive energy (chi) through the universe. Feng shui can help you create a relaxing, harmonious environment that will improve your mood and be aesthetically pleasing to guests. You don’t have to be an expert in Taoism or the Five Arts of Chinese Metaphysics to employ some of the tenets of feng shui in your apartment. Instead, take a look at this handy list for a few ideas.
Be Mindful of Your Wall Color
Especially in a small apartment, wall color can have a notable effect on a room’s energy. Light, pastel colors are great for kitchens, which provide you with health and energy. Darker, more subdued colors are great for bedrooms because they promote restfulness. Any color that reminds you of water is an excellent shade for a bathroom. But if you’re not up for repainting, a crisp white can provide a neutral background for your furniture and belongings.
One of the largest impediments to the easy flow of energy in a room is overcrowding it with furniture. Your chairs, tables, and couches should be conducive to the space they occupy. Instead of stuffing everything you own into your apartment regardless of available space, purchase pieces that fit the space you have. Similarly, eliminate clutter. You don’t have to display ALL of your belongings. Instead, simplify — your shelves should only contain books that mean something to you, and your coffee table only needs one photo of you and your dog, not four. To facilitate easy movement, high-traffic areas like hallways and entryways should be kept free of obstruction.
Find Each Room’s Purpose
Every room in your apartment should have a distinct purpose. Your kitchen is for cooking, your bedroom is for sleeping, your living room is for… well, watching Netflix and eating ice cream. Once you know your room’s purpose, you can better arrange its contents to contribute to that purpose.
Find Each Room’s “Command Position”
A “command position” is the space in a room that seems most central to its purpose. Take note of doorways, windows, and immovable design elements, and try to figure out the part of the room to which you’ll probably end up gravitating. That’s command position. It should be the space around which most of your furniture revolves.
Wherever you feel most at home in a room, that’s where command position should be — and where major elements should be placed. In a living room, command position might be opposite the door, between two windows. In that case, your couch and chairs should gravitate there. In a bedroom, it might be in the middle of the room, surrounded by space on two sides. If so, put your bed there. Your desk should be in command position in your office.
Balance is Key
When placing furniture, strive always for balance and symmetry. Make sure that all of your larger pieces of furniture aren’t all on the same side of the room, and if you have duplicate elements — twin bedside tables, multiple bookshelves — don’t just place them next to each other, but arrange them in the room so that the eye is drawn across the space. Don’t overload.
Let Life — and Light – In
Make sure to leave room for organic life. House plants, judiciously placed, can help create a sense of organic peace. And open windows can make your living area feel less separate from the natural world. That’s a key tenant of feng shui — since chi moves throughout the universe, we should aim to live harmoniously as part of the world, not separate from it.