How to Bring Happiness To Your Home?
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How to Bring Happiness To Your Home?

Hire a Feng Shui expert.

By Michele Lerner
Tue, Feb 1, 2022 10:07amGrey Clock 5 min

Happiness and prosperity were on Tamara Meadow’s mind even before ground was broken on her custom home in Connecticut. So she brought in consultant Alex Stark, a feng shui expert based in Beverly Hills, California, who also provided advice to Ms. Meadow for two New York City apartments.

“We’re all masters of our own destiny, but there are things you can do such as feng shui that can help you on a level we’re not all aware of,” said Ms. Meadow, 54, principal of Tamara Meadow Interiors in New York City. “Besides, it can’t hurt.”

Feng shui, a traditional Chinese practice, is meant to bring positive energy into a space and remove negative energy, said Bree Long, senior vice president of sales and marketing for etco HOMES, developers of One Coast, a luxury townhouse community in the Pacific Palisades neighborhood of Los Angeles. Etco HOMES worked with Feng Shui Master Zhi Wang, a global consultant with practices in Hong Kong, Macau and the U.S., to review the setting and architecture of the homes at One Coast to ensure they have good energy and will bring prosperity to the residents.

“Feng shui is about the flow within a space, which doesn’t necessarily mean an open floor plan,” Ms. Long said. “You want to have a seamless flow of energy from the public living areas to the private spaces. If there’s negative energy, you can create neutrality through the placement of furniture and by augmenting or editing items in the home.”

Incorporating elements such as earth, fire, water, wood and metal can create positive energy and harmony in the home, according to feng shui principles.

“When you optimize a home with feng shui, you want to focus on the individuals in the home and their priorities,” Mr. Stark said. “For some people we focus on wealth, careers and leadership. Other clients are more concerned with optimizing their health, family, relationships and community.”

In her New York apartment, Mr. Stark recommended that Ms. Meadow include lucky bamboo trees to help her husband’s business thrive.

“The building orientation wasn’t ideal, so Alex had me create a little altar in a niche to restore the balance of energy,” Ms. Meadow said. “It’s a way to connect with spiritual forces and to avoid stress. I have some family photos there plus incense to represent fire, a seashell to represent water and a rock to represent earth.”

Sadie Lake, owner of Sadie Lake Interior Design Studio in Spokane, Washington, uses feng shui as a way to understand the energy in a home.

“Feng shui can be used to enrich our ability to transform a space beyond looking beautiful,” Ms. Lake said. “Think of your house as holding a body of water and visualize where the water would flow and where it would stagnate. Think about how you want your space to flow and then use furniture, plants, mirrors and objects to transform it so your home feels like a respite from the world, a place where you feel protected and nurtured.”

Using the Natural Landscape for Good Energy

At One Coast, Mr. Wang found that the setting with the Santa Monica Mountain Range behind the homes and the Pacific Ocean in the front provides positive energy for residents.

“The mountains envelop and hug the community, which provides a sense of security,” Ms. Long said. “The shape of the mountains is like someone reclining, so that adds relaxation and serenity. The natural element of the ocean water is also positive feng shui.”

Individual buyers at One Coast can hire Mr. Wang for a private consultation if they wish. He also evaluated a model townhouse in the community which is now sold.

“Mr. Wang aligned the artwork along the hallway to the guest bedroom to provide good energy for guests,” Ms. Long said. “The back patio is oriented toward the mountains, which provides a fortress-like feeling of protection and privacy. This townhouse also has a roof deck which Mr. Wang said is oriented for positive energy with a view of the mountains on the left and the ocean on the right.”

Adapting to Individual Needs

While Mr. Stark provides feng shui consultations for developers, offices, schools and healthcare facilities, individual consultations for residences from city condos to custom estates offer the opportunity to provide an optimal living environment for the clients’ specific needs. He charges approximately $10,000 to $15,000 for a simple feng shui analysis on a home. Occasionally, Mr. Stark works on the same property several times for the same client and sometimes for different owners.

“There’s no such thing as generic feng shui,” he said. “I consulted on a home 15 years ago for an entrepreneur with a young family. The entrepreneur had a small workspace in the basement, so we moved his office to the ‘wealth corner’ of the house by replacing a guest suite with an office, a library and a separate entrance. We brought in a brassier feel with stone and metal and glass to give it a more powerful presence.”

Years later, the new owners of that house hired Mr. Stark.

“They are retired, so we converted the office suite back to a guest room and brought in wood and natural fibers and created a softer, plush area with several sitting areas,” Mr. Stark said. “Their priorities were relationships, health and serenity.”

Mr. Stark analyzes the orientations of a residence and the optimal compass directions for individual members of the household based on feng shui principles.

“The first couple needed southeastern energy, so we wanted the space to be as bright as possible, especially in the morning,” Mr. Stark said. “The second couple needed southwestern energy, so we closed off the space with trees and drapes.”

The traditional belief is that eastern energy is good for growth such as in business or for conception, while western energy is good for consolidation of the marriage and family, said Mr. Stark. Northern energy provides tranquility, while southern energy provides clarity, he said.

“About 60% of the time the home is already built, so we analyze the floor plan and the site plan to see where the energy comes from and manipulate it to match our clients’ priorities,” Mr. Stark said. “When we work with an architect at the schematic stage, we can do more to hold onto the positive energy and get rid of the negative energy.”

At Ms. Meadow’s Connecticut home, which is still under construction, Mr. Stark found that while most of the site and design were positive for feng shui, a U-shaped entry courtyard created diminished potential for partnerships that could have a negative impact on the family’s relationships.

“We buried quartz crystals along the perimeter of the site and hung wind chimes inside the walls to offset the negative energy,” said Ms. Meadow. “Alex was concerned that the direct alignment of the front door with these massive tall windows at the back of the house would accelerate the passage of energy through the space, which would lead to stress, constant activity and struggle.”

The solution is to place an oval table with flowers or a plant with round leaves to disperse the energy before it reaches the back of the house.

Correcting Dysfunction

Ms. Lake has redesigned kitchens that feel cold and lack the right energy to encourage family and friends to gather.

“An all-white kitchen can feel austere, so we bring in plants, colors and texture or change the stone from one that feels cold to one that adds warmth,” said Ms. Lake. “In one home, the range was placed in the natural pathway people would use to move around the kitchen. Once it was moved, the energy and flow in the kitchen changed completely.”

The stove, primary bed and desk are important power centers for every household, which makes positioning those items important.

“You don’t want the desk to be placed so that your back is to the entrance to the room because that sets you up for lies and deceit,” Ms. Meadow said.

Placing the bed, desk and stove in the “command position” can bring greater success and strength to the heads of the household, according to feng shui principles.

Traditional feng shui also relies on numerology, color schemes and cleansing rituals to create a positive environment for every member of the family.

Reprinted by permission of Penta. Copyright 2021 Dow Jones & Company. Inc. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Original date of publication: January 31, 2022


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There was a time, not too long ago, when the most important must-have for would-be renovators was space. It was all about space to be together and space to be apart.

But as house prices increase across the country, the conversation has started to shift from size for the sake of it towards more flexible, well-designed spaces better suited to contemporary living.

For the owners of this 1920s weatherboard workers’ cottage in Fremantle, the emphasis was less on having an abundance of room and more about creating cohesive environments that could still maintain their own distinct moods. Key to achieving this was manipulating the floorplan in such a way that it could draw in light, giving the impression at least of a larger footprint. 

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Positioned on a site that fell three metres from street level, the humble four-room residence had been added to over the years. First order of business for local architect Philip Stejskal was to strip the house back to its original state.

“In this case, they were not quality additions,” Stejskal says. “Sometimes it is important to make sure later additions are not lean-tos.”

The decision to demolish was not taken lightly. 

“Sometimes they can be as historically significant as the original building and need to be considered — I wouldn’t want people to demolish our addition in 50 years’ time.”

Northern light hits the site diagonally, so the design solution was to open up the side of the house via a spacious courtyard to maximise opportunities to draw natural light in. However, this had a knock-on effect.

A central courtyard captures northern light. Image: Bo Wong

“We had to make space in the middle of the site to get light in,” Stejskal says. “That was one of the first moves, but that created another issue because we would be looking onto the back of the neighbouring building at less appealing things, like their aircon unit.”

To draw attention away from the undesirable view, Stejskal designed a modern-day ‘folly’.

“It’s a chimney and lookout and it was created to give us something nice to look at in the living space and in the kitchen,” Stejskal says. 

“With a growing family, the idea was to create a space where people could find a bit of solitude. It does have views to the wider locality but you can also see the port and you can connect to the street as well.”

A garden tap has also been installed to allow for a herb garden at the top of the steps.

“That’s the plan anyway,”  he says. 

A modern day ‘folly’ provides an unexpected breakout space with room for a rooftop herb garden. Image: Bo Wong

Conjuring up space has been at the core of this project, from the basement-style garaging to the use of the central courtyard to create a pavilion-like addition.

The original cottage now consists of two bedrooms, with a central hallway leading onto a spacious reception and living area. Here, the large kitchen and dining spaces wrap around the courtyard, offering easy access to outdoor spaces via large sliding doors.

Moments of solitude and privacy have been secreted throughout the floorplan, with clever placement of built-in window seats and the crow’s nest lookout on the roof, ideal for morning coffee and sunset drinks.

The house has three bedrooms, including a spacious master suite with walk-in robe and ensuite overlooking the back garden. Adjustable blades on the bedroom windows allow for the control of light, as well as privacy. Although the house was designed pre COVID, it offers the sensibility so many sought through that time — sanctuary, comfort and retreat.

Adjustable blades allow the owners to control light on the upper floor. Image: Bo Wong

“When the clients came to us, they wanted a house that was flexible enough to cater for the unknown and changes in the family into the future,” Stejskal says. “We gave the owners a series of spaces and a certain variety or moods, regardless of the occasion. We wanted it to be a space that would support that.”

Mood has also been manipulated through the choice of materials. Stejskal has used common materials such as timber and brick, but in unexpected ways to create spaces that are at once sumptuous but also in keeping with the origins of the existing building.

Externally, the brickwork has been finished in beaded pointing, a style of bricklaying that has a softening effect on the varied colours of bricks. For the flooring, crazy paving in the courtyard contrasts with the controlled lines of tiles laid in a stack bond pattern. Close attention has also been paid to the use of veneer on select joinery in the house, championing the beauty of Australian timbers with a lustrous finish. 

“The joinery is finished in spotted gum veneer that has been rotary cut,” says Stejskal. “It is peeled off the log like you peel an apple to give you this different grain.”

Rotary cut timber reveals the beauty of the natural grain in the kitchen joinery. Image: Bo Wong

Even the laundry has been carefully considered.

“The laundry is like a zen space with bare stone,” he says. “We wanted these different moods and the landscape of rooms. We wanted to create a rich tapestry in this house.”

The owners now each experience the house differently, highlighting separate aspects of the building as their favourite parts. It’s quite an achievement when the site is not enormous. Maybe it’s not size that matters so much after all.

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