Joe Hu/Town Crier
Interior designer Chi Chen stages homes for sale utilizing principles of feng shui when considering her designs. She emphasizes "casual elegance" and the integration of natural elements into interior spaces.
Feeling tired every day? Perhaps the flow of chi in your home needs redirecting. Want your business to boom? Focus purple, green and red colors in the wealth corner of your boutique. Feng shui isn't just for Asian arts buffs or spiritual types - it is now accessible to any Westerner who wants to add some harmony to the home.
This Chinese art of placement, or the "art and science of healing spaces," has been used for at least 5,000 years, give or take a millennia.
Feng shui practitioners and interior designers have much in common; both study a person's connection to his or her surroundings. Too much clutter? An intrusive pillar or wall in the middle of your space? Common sense and feng shui agree that such things are conducive neither to a happy person nor a pleasant room design.
A feng shui cure is like a mini home redesign - it fixes a problem spot in the environment while making the home more spiritually comfortable. Feng shui practitioner Chi Chen of Mountain View balances her own intuitions as both an artist and a practitioner of feng shui with the needs and personality of each client she works with.
"People walk in" to a completed room, she said, "and they might not know it's feng shui, but they say, 'Wow, that feels really good.' "
When you enter Chen's office above La Petite Chaise, 285 Castro St., Mountain View, the feel-good effects of her work are immediately evident. Creamy golden tones and white wood play off the glitter of small golden lights. Mirrors peak out from behind the many fibers and textures that frame her space with natural shapes. Louvered doors, soft textiles and the delicate furniture of a European salon transform a room the size of a modest walk-in closet into an elegant little nest.
Feng shui practitioners seek to help people express themselves and their desires through the placement and decoration of their homes and workspaces. In feng shui, the symbolic colors and shapes of a person's surroundings stand as powerful metaphors for his or her state of being and goals. This art doesn't merely cultivate balance but makes it possible for people to actively pursue their goals, shifting their surroundings to affect their inner space.
For instance, Chen suggests placing the bed against the support of a bedroom wall or a solid headboard, rather than floating it in the middle of the room. A supported bed might symbolize a similarly bolstered relationship potential. "That's really been working," she said. "I've had two or three people get married!"
Chen advises grouping objects in a bedroom in pairs to symbolize union. "One night stand literally means 'one-night stand!' " she added. Chen said that people seeking lucrative business success should move the bed to a more commanding position over the room.
She advises those searching for success in marriage or work that they need to look to themselves - and their homes - first: "If someone wants to have a healthy nurturing relationship, he or she needs to make the bedroom a healthy nurturing place for himself or herself first. If you show yourself love first, later in a relationship people will respect you for who you are."
In addition to her home redesign, Chen stages houses about to go on the market and applies feng shui principles to business spaces. When she isn't designing, Chen is a concert cellist, teacher and composer. She often gives Sunday brunch recitals at the Crowne Plaza Cabana Hotel in Palo Alto.
Chen will discuss feng shui 7 p.m., July 14, at La Petite Chaise. In feng shui, there are "rules and principles that you use for colors and shapes, with which you can make a room feel cozy,'' she said.
"When a room feels cozy I feel as though I have done my job."
To register for Chi Chen's talk call 969-5721. To learn more about Chi Chen and her company UrbanChi, visit www.urbanchi.com or call 1-888-633-8480.