As the New Year approaches, we reflect on the past and look to the future, coming to understand that the decisions we make and the actions we take depend on our emotional responses to life at that point in time.
While there is sometimes no right or wrong in the decisions we make, the environment we live in can and does affect the way we feel and act, thereby influencing our choices and our decisions.
As a feng shui practitioner and practicing architect, I share with you here some easy design ideas to improve the space around you. These will not just give your home a new feel; they will also help you live exactly the kind of life you are looking for. Truly, your environment affects your mindset and your actions far more than you may believe.
Your lifestyle describes ‘who you are’. If you feel the need to change your life, look around your home and shift the furniture around to cater for a new lifestyle. Surround yourself with visuals of what you want to achieve or what you wish for. If you want to be an artist, paint or sculpt and display your work as the main centerpiece in the most used part of your home, as this will remind you throughout the year of the goals you want to attain. If you want wealth, display money or symbols of wealth around the home.
If it is love and romance you want, display elements of romance or pictures that instantly remind you of a feeling of being wanted, of love and happiness. To do well in your studies, place photos of people who inspire you to remind you of their success and what it is that portrays them as an icon.
Allow the Energy to Flow Freely
Clutter tends to be a huge problem in every household. The more we live, the more we collect; and we tend to have a habit of collecting things we don’t ever need again. Go through your entire collection and force yourself to spring clean your environment.
By clearing your space, you allow your home to breathe and create this vital circulation space that allows the energy to move through the home, thereby creating a sense of freedom and sensation to grow, allowing you to achieve your goals.
Select Materials Carefully & Thoughtfully
In every project I build, I look at new materials that excite me and think of how it can better a person’s life. Within the home, the main components that visually attract us are the flooring, the walls and the ceiling. For the ceiling, look at how different patterns and change in height affect the intimacy of the space, as well as our sensation within the space.
For the floor area, different materials create different visual effects such as the combination of timber and marble, or tiles, carpet patterns and texture.
In my latest project, I looked at ways to treat the wall design. To create tonal effect, we can use wallpaper coverings to introduce texture as well as colour shifts to highlight certain areas or to enhance the softness of the space.
Taking it to a new level of thinking – how about the paint that we use? While we are typically concerned about colours of the paint, consider the effect of how the building material would affect our life literally. One of the concerns about paint is its lifespan. Over time, exterior paint tends to attract dirt and stains, resulting in an unsightly eyesore within the home. And it is when your home starts to look grubby that you start to feel exhausted and drained of energy. So through research and testing, we have managed to introduce a paint that not only resists dirt and stains but also helps to improve the air that surrounds us, reducing heat gain and offering a non-volatile organic compound (VOC) that then improves personal health.
Create Usable Space
There are areas within the home we don’t think of ever using, but these areas could create architectural features. For example, walls are generally used for hanging stuff. How about designing a cantilevered ledge into the wall to create a seating arrangement which could also double us as a display stand or feature piece.
Or merge the exterior and interior of the home through concealed sliding panels? By doing so, we allow areas around the home to merge with one another, thereby enhancing the quality of the space but also allowing our lifestyle to determine the use of the space. For example, an enlarged living area allows us to entertain or create an al fresco living environment, while the same area separated recreates a more intimate setting for relaxation and privacy.
Try this technique for apartments where you merge bedrooms with the living area. Through concealed partition panels, you can expand the size of the living hall or maintain each area as its own space, depending on what you want to use it for at that point in time. The idea is to use your home as much as you can and never leave any space empty; but this also reinforces the concept of our ever changing lifestyles. Design your home to suit what you want or feel at any point in your life.
The Beauty of Light
Ask any photographer and they would tell you there is no light as beautiful as natural sunlight. The colours change through the day starting with a cold blue hue and ending with a warm red tone, depending on where you live. Introduce a skylight or picture window into the home. If the views surrounding you are unsightly, design your picture window with an array of panels composed of a mixture of frosted and clear glass to give a mosaic effect while hiding such views. For spaces with no view, look to the sky, as the view of clouds changing brings about a sense of peace, while the changing diffused light throughout the day changes the interior expression of the space.
For colours, the ideal colour range to consider are the neutral colours, as these don’t overwhelm the space and at the same time they bring out the colours of nature to become the predominant palette in your living environment.
The comfort level we experience in our homes is based on ergonomics, or the science of designing our interaction with our living environment. The experience we get from sleeping, eating, playing and working is dependent on how our body interacts with the furniture surrounding us.
Our natural comfort levels fall within a specified range of dimensions and when that relationship is off, we feel a sense of discomfort and irritation. Look at the furniture around you and measure your work station and dining room, your seating arrangement, furniture handle heights and visual heights such as the paintings and TV.
In the space we live in, the proportional composition between height, size, volume and materials makes us re-evaluate the perception of space. All these elements can have an adverse effect on our emotional psyche, and by living to the correct ergonomic composition, we would be able to improve our productivity and reduce the strain of living.
As we look at ways to change our lifestyle into the New Year, consider these design ideas as means to improving your emotional psyche through space, visualization, material enhancement, light and physical interaction. Only through improving your emotional responses to things can you lead a clearer life and make decisions that you believe are the