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Feng Shui Tips for the New Year
by Sarah Van Arsdale
March 8, 2009

In every tradition, the New Year is always a propitious time to evaluate your life, and to make changes that will improve things. This is true with the home as well as the other areas of life, and it's especially true in Feng Shui, as the ch'i flow changes with each new year.

To get some ideas about ways to fix up your home or office for the New Year, we went to H.G. Chisell, one of our Feng Shui consultants for the Sheffield Feng Shui Interior Design Course.

Throughout the house, the New Year is a great time to start with a little clutter-clearing. Feng Shui teaches us that the home is a reflection of the state of the mind, and that the state of the mind can be influenced by the home. Therefore, the tidier your home, the tidier your inner life. And we all usually have a little extra time in January, when we're recovering from the busy holiday season and spending more time indoors.

Starting at the front entrance of your house or apartment, because that's where you begin your entry into your home, clean up the clutter, getting rid of worn doormats, mailboxes, or anything that looks old and used-up. If you had a once-cheerful wreath that now looks old and dilapidated, pitch it out, and replace it with a new wreath of pretty cloth, or with bells or chimes, Chisell suggests.

You may want to invest in a small basket for mail, and in a trash basket dedicated to recycling paper, so that you can sort the mail and dispose of those things you don't need right at the door, without cluttering the house with it.

Sheffield Top Tip: Next, take this principle of removing anything outdated and unused through the rest of the house; these objects just take up space and energy, without giving back. In the kitchen, get rid of broken pottery, old, chipped plates, and food that you don't use. Take a few hours to clean out the home-office file cabinet. In the bathroom, clear out the medicine cabinet, flushing out-dated prescriptions and over-the-counter medications, and tossing out old make-up that you don't use anymore – this will be good for your Feng Shui, and good for your health, too.

While you're taking a hard look at your home, ask yourself if there are things, especially in the dining or living room, that give what Chisell calls "a cold sense of artificial formality." If you can't remove these, try to warm them up with accents. For example, you may have a glass and chrome coffee table that makes the living room feel stiff; try draping a warmly-colored cloth over it, and see if that changes the mood of the room.

Once you have the clutter removed, you'll be better able to see what you're working with in your home, and you can decide what kind of harmony and diversity you want. "In Feng Shui harmony is an expression of both balance and diversity," Chisell said, and you can achieve this by looking at both the diversity of color and the diversity of elements in your home.

To do this, you don't have to re-paint the entire living room. If you have yellow walls and yellow upholstered furniture, you can look to the little accessories for bringing in another color or colors: drape a throw over the back of the sofa, use accent pillows, and replace the lampshades.

To bring in additional elements, consider which things in your home are metal, which are wood, which water, which earth, and which fire, and then balance these. You can bring in a metal lamp, for example, or set a bowl of rocks in fresh water on the table.

Adding plants and flowers can help the ch'i in just about any room, Chisell said. "Not only do certain plants absorb electromagnetic radiation, they also help bring a sense of warmth and stability," he said. "But avoid cactus plants – they can cause arguments!"

Also, make sure you remove any flowers or plants that are dying; these have the opposite effect of the one you want.

Remember that doing a "quick makeover" for the New Year does take time, so don't try to do it all at once, or you may get frustrated and overwhelmed. Instead, go slowly, room by room, letting yourself appreciate the fruits of your labors as you go.

Reprinted with permission from the Sheffield School of Design web site at http://www.sheffield.edu

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