Dude, where’s the Sofa?

September 3, 2014
Think design and function. image: hgtv.com

Think design and function. image: hgtv.com

I live in New York City. Aside from Japan where I hear people get help squashing into subway cars and slumber in sleep pods, I think we may be the city with the least amount of square footage per person.

Due to this space challenge, many feel that they would like to follow my suggestions of putting their desk or sofa in the “Command Position,” but first need to figure out how to fit a desk or a sofa into their living space. 

Or you may be or have a college student in your life who is decorating their dorm room and want to figure out the best configuration for eating, sleeping and of course, ahem, studying.

In my experience, when designing small spaces, the best results are achieved by combining classic design concepts with Feng Shui philosophies. 

Yes, these two ideas can and do work together nicely, I promise.

How to create the illusion of space and encourage flow in your home using classic design and ancient Feng Shui principles (without making your place looking like a Chinese Opera movie set – unless you want it to):

1) Go on a color diet – I am often asked what colors are best in Feng Shui for certain areas of a space. For the sake of time and space, let me just say that a small space benefits most with one neutral palette. Too many colors in a small space creates visual clutter and can adversely affect one’s chi or energy. Instead, use colors such as beige, greys and lighter colors as an overall base color then add accent colors with accessories (pillows, artwork, ceramics) to energize the room. For an added bonus, paint everything the same color (including baseboards and ceilings) to give your space a streamlined look.

2) Reflect outward – Mirrors are often used in Feng Shui due to its powerful ability to enhance or correct Feng Shui issues. To make a space feel larger, you can also use mirrors on walls opposite windows to bring light into spaces that normally would be dark or stagnant. Mirrors naturally open up a space and give the allusion of more room. Just be sure not to put too many mirrors in your bedroom as it can disrupt sleep patterns.

3) Look around and up – In Feng Shui, we often look around us but forget to look up. There is so much valuable vertical real estate you can take advantage of for shelving, hooks and even for picture frames. The only Feng Shui exception is to make sure you don’t hang anything heavy over where you sleep, cook or sit often. Having something hanging over you is not positive symbolism and over time can affect the health of your chi.

Take advantage of all your real estate, even upward. image: refinery29

Take advantage of all your real estate, even upward. image: refinery29

4) Be in Command – So, you may not have room for a sofa or desk. Got it. But be sure where you do sit the majority of the time -whether it be on a stool, beanbag or a cushion, that you are still “in command.” Place your seating where you can easily see the door so you won’t be caught off guard and you’ll keep your chi in optimal health.

5) Kitchen confidential – Chances are, if you are in a small space, your cooking facility consists of a hot plate or an open concept stovetop. Hooray for you if you actually do have these amenities in a small space! One thing to keep in mind though is it is important to keep your kitchen area out of sight when you are not using it since constantly seeing your kitchen area can be distracting for your chi and can potentially cause health issues over time. Counter this by hanging up a stylish noren or curtain. If you own a hot plate, unplug it when not in use and store it in a cupboard. If space is an issue, get creative and find ways to cover it up. I found this cool box that is normally used to hide electrical wires but could very easy be used to put your hot plate in (unplugged) and maybe even serve as a side table when not in use!

Not having enough room is no longer an excuse to be disorganized or Feng Shui lazy. Feng Shui design concepts can be applied to any space, regardless of size. Use your ingenuity and creativity and always make sure to have fun!

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