You don’t have to become a feng shui expert to borrow these ancient techniques for a functional bedroom today. Let’s discuss how!
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to be a feng shui expert to have a bedroom that functions well, promotes good vibes, and looks stunning.
Let’s look at some basic feng shui bedroom principles to see what aligns with your current design style and how the “rules” can be tweaked for a real-world nod to design meant to allow good energy flow.
Feng shui is an ancient Chinese art of arranging objects in your home to promote good energy flow and life balance. According to these principles, this life force energy, or chi, is composed of receptive and active energies.
You can’t have one without the other, but having too much of one can create an imbalance. By striking the right balance, feng shui may promote the positive energy in your space (and life) while keeping the negative energy at bay.
There’s much more to it, but that’s as deep as you have to get to understand some of the principles and apply them to your space. Whether you believe in the principles of feng shui or just want to create a good, functional bedroom design, knowing how to let the two work together gives you an excellent starting point for your bedroom layout.
As is usually the case in any interior design situation (whether the goal is good feng shui or a functional room), we need to begin with a good decluttering session. Sorry, you can’t get away from this concept, no matter what design principle you're digging into.
First, tackle the obvious clutter that you never really wanted in your space but weren’t quite sure where to put it. If you haven’t used it in a year, toss it. If you have multiples of something, give all but one away. You can also apply the minimalist 20/20 rule that states if it can be replaced in 20 minutes for 20 dollars or less, you really don’t need it.
Even home decor items can get congested, lose their charm, and clutter your space visually and emotionally. Give them away to create the negative space your mind needs for restorative rest.
For the chi to flow uninterrupted around the bed, it’s best not to store things beneath it, which is a point that is bound to step on a few toes, as under-bed boxes are the holy grail of storage in small spaces.
If there’s no way to avoid it, feng shui proponents suggest keeping things closed up in a few large clear boxes, making cleaning and dusting relatively easy. They also suggest storing only soft items there, like extra bed sheets or seasonal bed linens.
From a practical design standpoint, gathering things into two large boxes rather than scattered about under the bed creates order. It’s a contained kind of chaos that even a feng shui expert might allow.
Whether or not modern tech devices produce bad feng shui is up for debate, as one device can replace a multitude of items that could clutter a room. However, the obvious downside to having tech gear in the bedroom is blue light. Blue light activates the mind and can get in the way of a good night’s sleep. (Yes, that means your endless midnight Instagram scrolling might be causing you harm…)
Consider this a great excuse to unplug and say goodbye to excessive chargers and devices (a constant frustration to anyone who loves interior design) by the bed!
Besides the obvious distraction of a work computer, letting your work life creep into your rest hours is a recipe for a bad night’s sleep. If you must have a home office in your sleep space, try using a room divider to visually separate the two so you can focus on recharging.
If your bedroom is your retreat from the busyness of the day, it’s best to keep that mental divide between activity and rest clearly defined. Minimize anything that is not a sleep-related item, as it may stimulate active energy and interfere with receptive energy in the bedroom.
For this reason, staring at your workout bands hanging on the closet door or that treadmill in the corner of the room can disrupt the calm you are trying to achieve. If possible, move workout gear out of the bedroom. If space is at a premium, try moving them out of sight. Place the bands inside the closet and put a room divider between the bed and your workout area. Less distractions for you!
A quick scan of feng shui principles may leave book lovers worried to hear that books carry an active energy, which doesn’t generally fit in a sleep space. That the weighty collection of words can be interpreted by your body as clutter — or worse, as “poison arrows.” (Anyone who still has a collection of “great works” they have yet to crack open, mocking them from the bookshelf, can relate.)
Though the words of our books create energy in us, how we feel about them, in general, can balance that out. So if you love your book collection and have fond memories associated with those volumes, they can contribute to a restful spirit.
If they seem overwhelming, cluttered, or (worse) a burden to read and hang onto, consider giving them away or at least relocating them to the living room. If you adore your books and the bedroom is the only place you have to store them, try closed bookcases or turning the spines backward on the shelf so the different jacket colors don’t distract.
Stepping back to get a look at “the bones” of your bedroom layout is a good way to consider what you should keep, chuck, or rearrange for good feng shui and better sleep. Spoak’s layout tool is a simple way to get a bird’s eye view of the space you are working with and an idea of what pieces will actually work in it.
The most important element of a functional bedroom is your bed and how it is placed in the room layout for the best night’s sleep (and best feng shui) possible. In general, you want the head of your bed against a solid wall to provide support for your life and relationships. You don’t want your bed in the coffin position, with the foot of the bed facing the bedroom door.
The alternative to the coffin is a commanding position. In the commanding position, you can see the entrance, but the bed is not directly in line with a doorway — that goes for both the entrance and a primary bathroom door.
If your bedroom is small or has an awkward collection of windows and doors along the walls, you may have trouble achieving the perfect bed placement. For those times when your bed must face the door, try placing it as off-center from the doorway as possible.
Creating balance and harmony in a room and its owners are the goals of good feng shui, and you can accomplish this by leaving an equal amount of space on each side of the bed for both people to have equal room, both literally and metaphysically, in the relationship. Having a wall against the side of your bed is said to cause chi to rush into the bed too quickly rather than moving in a slow, even flow.
You may find this isn’t possible in your small bedroom, so keep the principle in mind without getting too bogged down in practicing it perfectly. Maybe you can just scoot the bed away from the wall enough for wall sconces to flank the bed and give the feeling of symmetry. Having a nightstand on each side of the bed can create balance, even if the wall space on each side is unequal.
While a vaulted ceiling can add drama and visual interest to a bedroom, a feng shui consultant would caution against placing your bed directly under a low part of the ceiling or a beam because it would create undue pressure and stress on the sleepers. So how can you strike a balance between enjoying your light-reflecting, sloped ceiling and preventing unwanted stress?
These attributes are more about your perception than the actual architecture, so try disguising the ceilings or beams from the vantage point of the bed by hanging curtains or placing a room divider near the bed to block your view of exposed beams.
You might also consider painting your beams and ceiling the same cool, white color to give the illusion of your ceiling receding. It will seem further away, and the beams will seem to be one with it.
After all of the decluttering, your bedroom should feel relatively clean. Still, a visually tidy space isn’t necessarily purified by feng shui standards. You want to cleanse the energy as well as the air in your bedroom.
Houseplants go a long way in promoting good health. Beyond the pleasing colors and shapes of a vining plant draping over the edge of a table, certain plant leaves increase oxygen and remove impurities in stuffy indoor areas. They are said to increase positive energy and promote restful sleep.
Salt crystal lamps tick several feng shui boxes, along with meeting practical needs. Some believe the warm glow of the bulb through the crystal produces a soft light that increases positive energy. However, the data on this crystal’s de-ionizing abilities are still unclear. Supporters claim these lamps remove excessive moisture and improve air quality for more energy, fewer allergens, and easier breathing — all while balancing the chi in your space.
If following these principles feels like an exercise in restraint, that probably means you’re doing it right. But there are a few things to introduce to your interior design to promote a feeling of balance in the bedroom.
Select any color you want for your bedroom, as long as you love it and it provides the balance your particular room requires. Earth tones like sage green paint introduce the vitality of nature, while a warm yellow and the rich wood grain of your live edge headboard bring in balance and cheerfulness, much like the effect of sunlight.
Blue is a calming color (this is true in every form of color theory), and accents of black lend wisdom. Choose pinks and peaches for wallpaper and bed linens to bring a sense of sensuality to the bedroom, and for clarity, you can’t go wrong with pure white.
Keeping the effects of the different colors in mind, go a step further when placing art in your bedroom. Hanging things in a landscape orientation promotes tranquility, according to feng shui. If you include images of water, make sure it is a motionless pond rather than a roaring river that could stir things up.
The quality of light you have in your bedroom goes hand in hand with the type of plants you can keep alive there. Let in as much natural light as possible to promote active chi and balance out the typical dark interiors of most homes.
If getting enough light is an issue, include more ambient light in your space, choosing warm-toned bulbs that have a similar effect to sunlight.
Like most things in design (or life in general), too much of a good thing can become a bad thing. Mirrors are the perfect way to solve bed placement dilemmas when placed to help you view the doorway from the head of the bed, but too many mirrors reflecting around the space can be too active for a bedroom.
Even though the head of your bed may be against a solid wall, feng shui recommends a solid headboard rather than a latticework or slatted style. Look for a piece of soft furniture with curved edges to remove the harsh edges from your life and promote gentle harmony.
If you have no choice but to back your bed against windows, consider curtains or shutters that allow your windows to function like a solid wall in the evening.
It’s time to put these feng shui tips to the test! See what interior design techniques intuitively change the flow of energy in your space and promote your well-being, all while dealing with the bedroom layout you have.
Photo Credit: (Left) Soonafternoon; (Top Right) Brittany Appler
We are an online interior design studio for enthusiasts and professionals. Get a real-world design education, easy-to-use tools, job opportunities, and a tight-knit community. All levels welcome.Join now