Q: My husband’s mom is big into feng shui and wants to redo our bedroom for us as a gift. The things she wants to get rid of include my desk, all my plants, the extra dresser, and especially a large mirror that isn’t supposed to face the bed. I love mirrors: Our apartment is small and sort of dark, and I think the mirror reflects the only window in our room. What can I tell her?
A: Feng shui is the ancient Chinese philosophy about how the placement of each element of your home should be arranged to encourage good energy flow for better fortune and health. While feng shui isn’t exactly trending right now, many of the ideas, addressed thousands of years ago, are unbelievably relevant today.
If you’ve had an urge to simplify your life, reduce stress, declutter, sleep better, and have a more beautiful and airy home that just feels right, you’ve probably looked into some of today’s trends including Marie Kondo’s books and TV show; the Swedish Death Cleaning movement; and some of the countless decluttering, simplifying and decor tips, including those in my own books and blog articles. Even the current modern farmhouse decor style — with its classic finishes, simple arrangements, large windows, and acres of white paint — is based in the thought that a fresh, calming, airy house is important to a tranquil, less-stressful life.
So, back to you, your bedroom and ... your mother in law! Has she proposed removing anything of your husband’s? What does he think about mirror? Because your bedroom belongs to you and your husband, you two are the ones who should be happy with it. Have an honest talk with your husband first to make sure you two are in agreement about your style and needs. Feng shui or not, are there aspects of your MIL’s design style that you do like? Take her up on those aspects, or at least hear her ideas. Large, healthy plants are beautiful and invigorating, half-dead ones in small, dusty planters are clutter. Is that perhaps what she’s referring to? For other examples, if you like her taste in color or really do need a new bed, then ask for her help painting or choosing new furniture or bedding, something that you will appreciate. Explain the non-negotiables, like the mirror.
Any trend can become an overwhelming obsession, so it’s best to be selective and use the ideas that work best for you. And your husband. Decluttering is always a good idea, and really does create a more peaceful environment. So does removing overly dramatic artwork, desks, and electronics such as computers out of the bedroom. These ideas also fit in with feng shui. Good luck and let me know how this goes!