Chinese New Year plant & interior guide
Signifying a shift to spring and its new beginnings, Chinese New Year is seen as a time in which to reset and ward off any negative energy and bad luck accumulated over the previous year. On 12th February 2021, we will enter the Year of the Ox, a symbol of hard work, positivity and honesty in Chinese culture.
In our guide to interior trends from around the world, we analysed Instagram data to reveal feng shui as the fourth hottest trend with almost 1.5 million posts. This Chinese New Year, we’ve decided to delve deeper into this interior trend, revealing how its principles can be easily applied to our homes through the use of plants, decoration and furniture placements to improve physical and mental wellbeing.
What is feng shui?
Feng shui is an ancient Chinese philosophy that helps individuals find balance with the natural world by harnessing energy forces around us. When feng shui is applied to our living spaces through decoration and spatial design, positive energy is able to flow uninhibited through the space, benefiting our quality of life and wellbeing.
As we spend more time at home than ever before, it’s no wonder that many of us want to promote good feng shui in our living spaces to promote health and wellness. In fact, searches for ‘feng shui’ were up 49% in 2020 compared to 2019 whilst searches for ‘feng shui home office’ shot up 175%.
The main concepts of feng shui
The bagua is an energy map that can be placed over the floorplan of your house, or even a single room within, to help define the energy movement in your home.
The map can be applied by lining up the bottom of the map with the front door of your home, or the door of the room in which you are looking to create good feng shui, and then locating the specific areas associated with each section. After these areas have been identified, pick two or three parts of your life you’d like to focus on and add decorative features calling on the colours and elements associated with that area of the map.
The five elements, wood, fire, earth, metal and water, are another important part of feng shui that, when used correctly, can encourage a harmonious, nurturing energy. Each area of the bagua is associated with a particular element that can be introduced through the use of relevant colour, art and decorations.
Wealth & Prosperity, Health & Ancestors = Wood element
Fame & Reputation = Fire element
Love & Marriage, Knowledge & Self-Cultivation = Earth element
Children & Creativity, Helpful People & Travels = Metal element
Career & Life Path = Water element
Yin and Yang
Part of ancient Chinese philosophy, the opposing forces of Yin and Yang can be applied to feng shui in the home, helping to create a sense of harmony once the two are balanced.
Whilst Yin represents a soft, calming energy, yang is the active, bold energy. When it comes to feng shui interiors, yin energy should be encouraged in bedrooms and bathrooms whilst yang energy is best for living spaces, kitchens and home offices.
Why are plants good for feng shui?
96% of us agree that having greenery around our homes improves our mood, so it’s no wonder plants are seen as a great addition to feng shui interiors as the aim is to create positive energy that benefits our wellbeing.
In feng shui, there are several plants with strong connotations to luck, love and wealth that can be used throughout the home to encourage these concepts. With searches for feng shui plants up 50% in 2020 compared to the previous year, it’s clear that many of us are looking to improve these aspects of our lives by introducing symbolic plants to our homes.
Feng shui for living rooms & kitchens
The living room and kitchen areas in your home are places where family members and guests come to spend time together and socialise. As such, it’s important to promote good feng shui and create a welcoming atmosphere in these spaces.
Living rooms and kitchens are areas in which yang (active) energy should be encouraged. This can be achieved by introducing warm, vibrant colours, for example deep reds and earthy yellows, through accessories such as artwork, rugs, cushions or vases.
To call on good luck for you and your loved ones, try placing some of these plants in the living room and kitchen areas of your home:
"Bamboo has a reputation of not just bringing good luck, but also of turning an unlucky streak into a good one,” says Eddie Tee of Fengshuied.com. “Those who want to place them for good luck should tie a red string on it to bring a touch of yang (active) energy.” Sarah Bowen, interior designer and blogger at Spruceup.co.uk, also recommends placing bamboo and other large, tall houseplants in areas where yang should be promoted, signifying upward moving energy.
If you are applying the bagua map to your living room or kitchen design, look to match the colours and elements associated with those areas you’d like to improve. For example, if you’re looking to increase the energy flow in the health and ancestors bagua area, place a wooden furniture item in the correct location or introduce brown and green tones to this space.
Feng shui for bedrooms
Being where we rest and unwind at the end of the day, bedrooms are one of the most important areas of the home. Applying feng shui principles to this space will help create a balanced, peaceful environment, improving overall wellbeing as well as sleep quality.
Yin energy should be promoted in bedrooms to help create a relaxing, healing atmosphere. Interior designer, Sarah Bowen says “neutral colours and soft textures are best for bedrooms, as bright colours enhance yang energy and this can lead to poor sleep. Avoid primary and bright colours such as red, purple, navy blue and black.
“Another feng shui tip is to remove bedroom mirrors, and this is especially important if they are facing the bed. Mirrors invite energy into the space, and keep the energy in the room active when it should be still.”
Using plants that call on love and happy relationships in feng shui are good options to place in the bedroom:
Whilst the plants above are strong symbols of romance in feng shui, we should be wary of their usage. Eddie Tee recommends that “single people who have displayed peonies at home to attract love are advised to dispose of the plant when they have met a suitable partner. Otherwise, it is a recipe for scandals to occur!”
In feng shui, it is thought best to avoid large, tall plants in bedrooms as these can invite too much yang energy into the space. To achieve refinement, according to the bagua map, try placing these plants in your love and marriage bagua area for increased energy flow.
It is also important to ensure that the bed is placed in the ‘command position’ – the position in the room from which you can easily see what is coming through the door. This symbolises a readiness to face whatever life throws at us. This can be further achieved by making sure that your bed is not in line or directly opposite the bedroom door, and that the headboard is against a solid wall. Having your bed in this position will also encourage relaxing energy, optimising the quality of your rest and sleep.
Feng shui for home workplaces
With many of us continuing to work from home for the foreseeable future, remote workspaces have surged in importance.
In feng shui interiors, the placement of the door in relation to your workspace is very important for encouraging positive energy flow and productivity. Eddie Tee suggests using the command position so that the door into the room is not behind you or in front of you when seated at your desk. He explains: “Having the door on the left or right side, and not in line with the working space is the best option since movement from activities outside the door can be distracting, even when it only appears out of the corner of your eye.”
You should also avoid placing your desk directly in front of a wall as this symbolises facing obstacles. Instead, the space in front of your desk should be bigger than any space behind you. It also goes without saying that desk clutter creates bad feng shui as it can block natural energy flow and hinder your efficiency.
When it comes to plants, those that call on wealth and good luck are good choices for office spaces:
Due to their strong connections to fortune and money, miniature lime trees are often given as gifts to hosts during Chinese New Year, symbolising the luck brought by orange trees since their fruit bears a similar resemblance. “Since it's not practical to bring an orange tree as a gift, lime trees are commonly used to convey the same wishes to the hosts,” reveals Eddie.
While the placement of these plants in your home office spaces will help bring associations of good fortune, you can also increase wealth energy by placing them in the wealth and prosperity bagua area of your workspace.
What plants should be avoided for good feng shui?
Two popular indoor plants that often divide opinion among feng shui experts are the bonsai tree and snake plant. “The negativity towards bonsai is down to it being a stunted plant,” says Eddie. “Even though we find them beautiful and sometimes artistic, their natural state is considered as abnormal. This can bring undesirable energy into the living space.
“Furthermore, the snake plant also does not have a good reputation in feng shui mostly due to its shape and form. They resemble flames of the fire element which, when used in the wrong place at home, can bring misfortune in various forms.”
You should also remove any unhealthy or dying plants from feng shui interiors since they are seen to represent death. Artificial plants are a good alternative to real plants for those looking to incorporate good feng shui in their homes as they promise vibrancy all year round, helping you to remove the negative connotations associated with dying plants and flowers. They are especially useful for areas of your home that are lacking in natural light.
As we enter Chinese New Year, making some simple changes to your home by incorporating feng shui principles is a great way to encourage positive energy and new beginnings for the year ahead. From moving furniture around to improve energy flow to placing auspicious plants to encourage luck, love and wealth, feng shui helps to create a harmonious, supportive environment where your wellness can thrive in 2021.
If you enjoyed this article, you may also be interested in our guide to refreshing your work from home space.