What the heck is Feng Shui? Originating in China almost 6,000 years ago, Feng Shui literally means “wind”(Feng) and “water”(Shui). It is also referred to as “Geo-mancy” or “Earth Wisdom” — an ancient method of constructing and optimizing residences to bring about happiness, abundance and harmony. It includes architecture, urban planning, interior design, garden design, and placement of objects in our environment. It also involves the layout, framework, materials and colors of building structures.
There are different types or “Schools” of Feng Shui. This accounts for a great deal of confusion. The two oldest schools are the Form School, which addresses external and internal environments and their effect on the occupants and the Compass School, which uses a compass to determine the orientation of a home and therefore its prosperity.
We use the Form School and Compass School, because we have found them to be the most effective methods. Why is staging with Feng Shui important? When people walk into a home for sale, they decide within 15 seconds whether they want to buy it.
What if your home could attract not only buyers, but money, success or even love? Feng Shui practitioners believe that arranging your environment can enhance your life in all of those areas. Now that Feng Shui is finally becoming a household word, people are starting to embrace it for use in staging their homes for sale in the cooling real estate market.
THE FIRST IMPRESSION: The Entrance! In China, red is supremely powerful. It represents relationships, fame, reputation, and wealth. It’s also a fabulous color to paint your door. It’s very welcoming, and it leaves no guesswork up to potential buyers. They will be able to find the door quickly and easily. It also conveys that the owners are powerful, and even thwarts burglary!
CURB APPEAL… A curvy walkway that leads buyers to your front door is not only good Feng Shui, it’s good curb appeal.
Plant some colorful flowers, especially red ones, and make sure to fix anything that is broken or dirty. If you house is overgrown with shrubs, have them trimmed back. Buyers need to be able to see what they are buying.
An imaginative paint job is another way to play up your house. If you are lucky enough to have interesting architectural details, use different coordinating colors to maximize the effect. Yellow is welcoming and it makes the house feel grounded.
BALANCING OUT SPECIFIC ROOMS
If a client’s home has a room that is all wood paneling, we would say it had “too much Wood”. We would balance out the wood by adding metal and fire, to “bring the wood down” a bit. Metal and Fire could be literal, or figurative. A metal table would qualify as “Metal”, but so would a large gray rug, since gray is the color of metal.
Adding Fire might mean adding red candles all along the mantelpiece of the fireplace, or figuratively, painting some of the walls red, which is the color of Fire. Oftentimes home stagers place a bowl of fruit out in the kitchen. A Feng Shui consultant might place that bowl of fruit in the South East corner of the kitchen, or the “Wealth Corner”, since fruit is a symbol of wealth, to pump up the wealth of the occupants while they are selling the house.
TOP TEN FENG SHUI HINTS FOR SELLING YOUR HOME
Make sure you cannot see a toilet from the bed. If your bathroom is directly in view, mask it with a decorative Japanese screen, or hanging curtain.
Make sure your feet are not pointing out the door while in bed. This is the “death” position. If you have to angle the bed, do it. The bed should be symmetrical – with matching nightstands and lamps.
A headboard is key. If you don’t have one, get one, or make one. Paint the bedroom a soothing, light, neutral color, such as green, gold, taupe or beige.
Clutter is the opposite of Feng Shui. Go for S-P-A-C-E by clearing out EVERY unnecessary item from your home
Paint your door red
Let there be light! Add lighting or mirrors to blah areas to pump up the energy.
Keep your porch and outside lights on at night! Make sure people can see your house numbers – make them large!
There shouldn’t be any heavy beams or heavy light fixtures directly over the wofs four pillars. You can paint beams the same color as the ceiling to make them visually “go away”.
When planning seating arrangements, make sure no one has their back to the door.
Go for Yin, as well as Yang. Make a nice flow throughout the house by adding a round dining room table.
AROMATHERAPY It may seem obvious, but the best thing you can do for your home is to clean it (thoroughly) and remove all the clutter. When selling, you want to affect all the senses of prospective buyers. Even if the place looks amazing, a cat box smell can be a real show stopper.
Light some pleasant smelling candles during your open house, or simmer a small pot of water on the stove with cinnamon or other spices in it. It will fill the home with a smell of something baking in the oven.
Men’s favorite scents? Fresh cut grass, apple pie, and vanilla. If you can find a way to have all three going at your open house, bravo! [Interesting note: “Tommy Girl” perfume contains all three scents… ]
Women’s favorite scents? Warm scents (like vanilla) top the list of Midwestern women’s favorite scents. Women in the South go for clean/soapy scents. Almost everyone loves lavender and roses.
THE KITCHEN – The #1 Deal Maker or Breaker ~ If you can swing it, the biggest bang for the buck is replacing outdated fixtures, countertops, etc, with inexpensive but lush-looking solutions… such as:
a stainless steel “cover” for your dishwasher – which will instantly update it.
paint your fridge to match updated appliances (use appliance paint – see more below)
a concrete poured counter – stain any color you like, then seal
tiny glass mosaic tiles for the backsplash – a great shot of color
In both kitchen and bath, you can regrout the tile – in lieu of replacing it – for a fresh, clean look.
REGARDING YOUR FLOORS: Vinyl tile and linoleum are the most cost-effective quick fixes, but make sure you choose something that either looks REAL, or desirable. If you go with vinyl, choose one that looks like stone, not one that looks like vinyl.
Environmentally friendly linoleum has recently made a comeback. You could do a really retro checkerboard with two modern colors – like alternating brown and robin’s egg blue tiles. Of course you want to update the whole kitchen with the same scheme – so paint the walls and/or cabinets to coordinate with whatever you choose for the floor.
A WORD ABOUT CABINETS:Men tend to love demolition. Before the man in your household pulls out the sledgehammer, consider this:
The fact is, probably 80% of kitchen cabinets out there can be salvaged! Many just need a coat of paint, or stain (dark stains are in). Remove the cabinet doors, take them outside, and sand them before painting or staining.
New hardware (drawer and cabinet pulls) covers a multitude of sins, and can steer your kitchen into the 21st century. Pay attention to contrast. For example, if you go with dark cabinets, make sure walls and floors are lighter, to create contrast, and keep things light.
FINAL STAGING TIPS FOR THE KITCHEN: In the kitchen, stage it so people can imagine cooking there. A large bowl of Granny Smith apples is a wonderful design touch. Or, put a bottle of wine on the table, with a decorative cheese and cracker plate next to it. Help the buyers use their imaginations.
THE BATHROOM: THINK SPA In Feng Shui, the bathroom is about getting rid of waste – consequently, you want to make the experience as pleasant and “spa-like” as you can. Add some plants, seashells, or other things from nature. Spring for some new colorful towels to quickly change the vibe. Remember, a can of paint costs about $25 and it provides the single biggest impact.
To create the illusion of space, many people are replacing their old sinks with new “retro” pedestal sinks, which create visual space by exposing more of the floor.
If you prefer a vanity/sink combo, go to a stone & marble place and ask for a granite “remnant”. Use this as your countertop for a really luxurious and updated feeling. You’ll save a lot of money this way – especially if you do the demo yourself. If your bathtub is basically in good shape, but has resistant stains, it is possible to apply a new coat of enamel with a paint sprayer. Get a professional to do this for you. Look in the yellow pages under “bathtub resurfacing”. You can also change the color of a dated tub to something more neutral this way.SUPER TIP FOR THE BATHROOM:Scour your filmy shower door with one part muriatic acid and 10 parts water. Scrub it with steel wool. After rinsing, your shower door will look brand new.
THE MASTER BEDROOM Should Appeal to both Men and WomenIt should appear large, balanced, and “gender-neutral”. This means that a flowered bedspread and pink walls are out. A classy duvet cover is a great inspiration for a design theme. Colors like beige, brown, cream, yellow, gold, maroon, and green are “gender-neutral”.
If you need help, call the pros. People definitely need to see the master bedroom as a large, luxurious space. Remove personal items, such as framed photos, and stacks of papers. The buyer wants to picture what it would be like to move right in. Having personal items around makes them feel like an outsider.
Make sure everyone is included! Two nightstands, two lamps, etc. Symmetry is a good thing in the bedroom.
Seeing the outside from the bedroom is a big plus. If you can, install French doors that lead to the garden.
LIVING ROOMS – focus on fireplaces, seating and lighting:
If you have a fireplace, consider yourself lucky. If it’s blah, you can quickly add zing by either painting it a contrasting color to the wall, or painting just the fireplace wall a different color from the rest of the room to make it pop.
If the actual mantel is uninspiring, you might consider adding decorative hand painted tiles on the surround, for example.
NOTE: If you have a historic home, do not do any major work to the fireplace without consulting a professional. You could seriously bring down the value of your home by disturbing original elements.
Keep items on the mantel to a minimum. Just a few key pieces is all you need. Put at least one tall, dramatic item on the mantel – a vase with flowers, a tall statue, candlesticks, a topiary, etc.
Hang either a key piece of artwork over the fireplace, or a mirror – but make it dramatic.
When grouping your seating, make it “L-shaped”, or “U-shaped” not “confrontational”. In Feng Shui, when two couches are placed opposite each other, it actually causes people to become confrontational with each other, instead of having a nice flow of conversation.
To make the room feel more formal, make sure each piece of furniture has an end or side table. To make the room feel less formal, use a large ottoman instead of a coffee table.
Stage the room with a snack or fruit on the coffee table, and some soft music playing. By all means, unless it’s 90 degrees out, have a fire blazing in the fireplace! If your fireplace doesn’t work, put a large candelabra inside, and light candles on it.
PLAYROOMS, HOME THEATERS, and BONUS ROOMS: Show off your square footage
Anyone lucky enough to have these types of rooms should pay special attention to their impression. Don’t make the mistake of thinking “Well, this room is really big, so they won’t notice the:
fake 1970’s wood paneling
ugly and stained carpet
horribly mismatched furniture
cold industrial blinds
blah white paint job… etc.
Sometimes less is more. Take a long, hard look at the room. What jumps out at you as “wrong”? If it’s furniture, you are lucky. Remove it!
WHEN IN DOUBT, PAINT! A lackluster paint job is another easy fix. When repainting, make sure you use a gender-neutral color that appeals to the widest audience. If you have paneling that you want to get rid of, paint it! You can degloss the paneling with TSP, or a light sanding.
MAKE SURE TO PRIME the paneling first, before painting. TINT YOUR PRIMER with the color you intend to paint over the paneling. This will save you many coats. Use a low-gloss paint (like eggshell), which will minimize the lines of the paneling.
Since basement rooms are often paneled, I prefer to paint over it, since the vertical lines help give the feeling of height, and therefore space. Furthermore, many a hapless homeowner has removed their paneling only to find a nightmarish situation underneath.
THANK GOD FOR LINOLEUM Did you know that linoleum is back in style? Amazing! There are many new, fun colors available, too. It’s very reasonably priced, environmentally friendly, lasts forever, and comes in easy to install tiles. For playrooms, pantries, laundry rooms, and even finished garages, you really can’t beat it.
ENORMOUS TELEVISIONS Home theaters are becoming more popular, as people want a place to hide their enormous TV’s. Cardinal rule of seating? Try not to have people’s “back to the audience”. In other words, you don’t want to walk in the room and bump into the back of the couch. Make sure you have enough lighting. Lighting can often create a mood that can radically change the feeling in the room.
For example, changing the lighting from fluorescent to an incandescent pink light bulb can take the room from industrial/cold to warm and inviting in about a minute! Pink light bulbs are available anywhere you find light bulbs, and they are VERY light pink – to cast a subtle glow around the room.
PLAY UP YOUR UNIQUE FEATURES: In Feng Shui, water is like money, flowing around you. If you have a water view, by all means play it up.
Other super selling features are sun porches, wraparound porches, guest cottages, detached garages, finished basements, and original historic details. Any way you can distinguish your home will help it sell. To pump up your home’s “reputation”, place red objects in the southern part of any room. Red is Fire, and Fire is the Element of Fame/Reputation.
Feng Shui and your personal taste
Feng Shui is really an art, or a science, not a style. People often worry that Feng Shui will “clash” with their personal style. Others fear that it is a religion! Feng Shui is definitely not a religion. It is a way of balancing out an environment such that the energy meanders and flows in a beneficial way – and that, in turn, is palpable to the occupants and guests.
People tend to fixate on things they have heard, such as “Purple is wealth”. While purple is definitely a prosperous color, if the client doesn’t like it, we can offer a variety of other options, depending on their personal taste, and what’s best in the environment.
Balance is what Feng Shui strives to attain and, whether it’s your business or your home, having the right energy flowing through it is crucial. Oftentimes, after we Feng Shui a client’s home for selling, they are so pleased with the results, that they decide to take it off the market and stay!