By Mackenzie Dunn

Published on September 27, 2018

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There is so much to consider when it comes to designing and decorating a home. How do I make sure my furniture is to scale? Where is the best place to buy my furniture? What kind of decor accessories work best in this room? These questions and more are often fraught until you finally create and curate the perfect space—one that feels like home to you.

But have you ever thought about the impact your home can have on your health? From the best colors to paint a bedroom to the best lighting to use, and even how to arrange your furniture, it’s the little things that can subtly impact your mental and physical well-being, and chances are, you’ve been doing them wrong. Don’t believe us? We talked to a feng shui specialist and color expert for tips on how to equip our sanctuaries to promote a better sense of health and wellness. Aside from adding a few wellness-related home decor items, you can turn these design don’ts into positive, healthy home habits.

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Photography by Cody Guilfoyle
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Photography by Cody Guilfoyle

Don’t: Use bright colors in the bedroom

Do: Opt for calming neutrals to promote a better night’s sleep

When it comes to your bedroom, you want to create a peaceful oasis that fosters a more calming environment and (hopefully) a more regular sleep schedule. It should feel like a retreat from the rest of your home, which is why some of the worst colors to paint your bedroom include primary hues like red and yellow.

Instead, feng shui master practitioner Carol M. Olmstead, FSIA, recommends skin-toned colors for walls. “You want anything that feels like healthy skin,” the guru says. “The blush of cheeks, the light pink on lips, creamy colors, anything that feels like you’re sleeping with a healthy human—that’s what makes a bedroom relaxing.” Other more calming shades include deep blues, lavender, or a soft charcoal gray. Either one or combination of these is sure to help you fall asleep faster.

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Photography by Aaron Bengochea

Don’t: Become stuck in a design rut

Do: Change your accessories to boost your mood

Leanne Venier, an Eastern Medicine physician and science of color and light therapy expert, explains how our cravings for different colors can change, depending on what’s going on in our lives.

“We use colors, just like we use nutrients. We make decisions depending on what’s going on in our bodies, health, stress levels, etc. We’re going to crave the colors that bring us balance,” she says. “The colors we want around us at the time are going to be the most healing and supportive to us.”

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And because the colors we want around us will fluctuate, Venier suggests swapping out pieces such as; area rugs, comforters, room accents, art pieces, or tapestries. “Anything that covers a large surface area in your visual field will change the way you feel very quickly,” says Venier. “But you can consciously use color to support your health and well-being.”

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If you want a room to be more uplifting and energizing, you can add splashes of reds, oranges, and yellows. And on the opposite spectrum, if you want a room to promote dreaming, meditation, and creativity, Venier suggests sedating colors like blue, indigo, or violet, as they can induce a calming sensation.

“We’re going to crave the colors that bring us balance.”

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Don’t: Keep everything

Do: Get rid of clutter for better peace of mind

We get it: You have a lot of stuff. But ask yourself, “Do I really need all of this?” For your mental well-being, it’s better to finally declutter your home and get organized.

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Keeping only what you love is essential to a happy home, according to Olmstead. “If you don’t love it, send it out into the universe,” the interior design expert insists. And if you do have some clutter, she urges you to keep it in drawers, or behind doors and closed cabinets.

Olmstead discourages keeping items under the bed so that you can keep chi flowing in the house—the energy that unites body, mind, and spirit. That said, “if you must keep something under your bed, soft things like linens and clothing are okay,” she says.

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Don’t: Haphazardly place and store your belongings

Do: Use feng shui for rearranging your space

Feng shui is an ancient art and science that developed over 3,000 years ago in China. It is a complex body of knowledge that teaches us how to balance the energies in any given space—be it a home, office, or garden—in order to assure good fortune for the people inhabiting it. But embracing the concept doesn’t have to be complicated. You can easily implement pieces of the ideology with just a few easy swaps.

Ahead, Olmstead shares some words of wisdom in achieving feng shui in the different rooms of your home.

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Illustration by Phuong Nguyen

Foyer

A foyer is important because it’s referred to as the mouth of the house, and it’s where the chi or circulating energy flows. If you don’t have a foyer, Olmstead suggests creating one by placing a bookcase at a certain angle to visually section off that area. But don’t leave your shoes there, as they symbolize the idea of running away from a peaceful life at home. You want to keep this area clean and clutter-free.

Bedroom

Olmstead recommends having a nice, solid headboard for the bed. She also recommends your bed be positioned so that your head is against a wall, for a sense of security. And if you need a few ideas for what to do with that blank space above your bed, we have a few style-focused suggestions right here.

Dining Room

You might want to avoid keeping photos of deceased people, or ashes of pets in the dining room. Instead, Olmstead suggests adding a mirror, so it seems like you’ve doubled the number of guests you can entertain. “In feng shui, the [number of] people you entertain relates to wealth,” she says. Some mirrors are so stylish that they double as art, so these abstract additions will double down on the good vibes and style in the dining area.

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Living Room

This is typically the most-used room in the house, so Olmstead suggests positioning the furniture in this room in “the power position.” In other words, have chairs and couches facing the entrance of a room, so that the people in the space feel comfortable and in control—no one can sneak up on them when they’re facing the entrance. Although, this can be trickier when you have a large, open floor plan. Don’t fret though, there are ways to hack the space to make it feel cozy and cohesive, without breaking up that all-important energy flow.

Kitchen

When it comes to the kitchen, keep food and cleaning products in separate pantries. If you keep them together, it means you’re “cleaning out your good health,” Olmstead cautions. Don’t have a pantry? You can still organize your food and goods to keep your kitchen clutter-free.

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Bathroom

Olmstead suggests green things in the bathroom to symbolically balance the excess water found here. Also, try to remember to keep the toilet lid down, because the flushing symbolizes a suction that pulls energy downward and out of your home. By keeping the seat down, you minimize this loss of energy.

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Don’t: Disregard lighting

Do: Chose lighting that won’t interrupt your sleep cycle

Too often, we forget how important lighting is in our homes. Instead of going with your home’s pre-installed bulbs and fixtures, try swapping them out for a healthier option that won’t mess with your body’s circadian rhythm. Not to mention, statement lighting is kind of having a moment right now so you can add some extra flair to your home while also providing proper lighting that won’t strain your eyes or your sleep schedule.  

Venier encourages the use of red light in your bedroom at night and white light (which contains tinges of blue) during the day. She explains that the blue and green light stops the production of melatonin, a hormone that helps people sleep.

“There are multiple ways to use red light in your bedroom,” she explains. “You can either get red LED bulbs, or you can use Himalayan salt lamps that give off a red, soft, peachy pink warm color.”

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Don’t: Only stock up on succulents

Do: Keep a leafy or plant or two around

While we get that succulents are everyone’s go-to plant because they’re so simple to care for, both experts agree that leafy green plants are a great element to have in a home.

Olmstead believes that “keeping a healthy, living plant three feet away from electronics will eat up the negative energy being omitted, and create a sense of balance.”

However, she dissuades owning cacti or any plant with thorns because they have spiky energy—which is not what you want in a home. As a substitute, she recommends plants with rounded leaves. “The plant is natural and adds oxygen to the home,” Olmstead says, while Venier points out that green is a neutral color that helps balance out the other colors in a room.

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Photography by Cody Guilfoyle

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