Feng shui at home: A beginner's guide

What is feng shui? Learn the basics of it with the help of feng shui expert Sarah McAllister, the founder of Feng Shui Agency.

In a world that's constantly bustling with activity, it’s essential that our homes represent a peaceful spot for us to unwind and recharge. Enter feng shui, an ancient Chinese practice that focuses on creating harmony and balance in our living spaces. If you’re wondering ‘what is feng shui and how does it work?’, read on to find out!

In simple terms, feng shui is both a science and an art that promotes wellness, success, and happiness in the home. By arranging the elements in your space according to feng shui principles, you can cultivate positive energy known as ‘chi’ and improve your overall wellbeing.

In this beginner's guide, we'll explore the basics of feng shui together with Sarah McAllister, master of classical feng shui and the founder of Feng Shui Agency. Through easy-to-follow tips and simple practices, you’ll learn how to feng shui your home in no time. After you’re done reading, browse our range of sofas or dining sets to find suitable furniture for your feng shui home.

Sarah McAllister

(Credit: Ingaze Photos)

Sarah McAllister

Master of Classical Feng Shui


Sarah McAllister is a classically trained feng shui master with over 25 years’ experience applying this intricate ancient wisdom to the modern built environment. Her projects range from residential eco builds and £25m mansions to 230000m2 mixed use leisure developments, award winning urban spas, boutique hotels and wellness resorts, as well helping people optimise their existing homes or office spaces.

Sarah is qualified in Environmental Psychology and served on the Wellness Architecture Initiative of the Global Wellness Institute. Her love of nature and deep experience of Wilderness Spirit Philosophy helps her create environments with a deep connection to the natural world.

Sarah has given talks for Oxford Brookes University, Futurebuild, RIBA, AIA, DECO, Homes for Good, Savills HQ and St Joost Design College and worked on six continents from Moscow to Tokyo, LA to London and in the Middle East.


Feng shui is an ancient Chinese practice that integrates beliefs from Taoism, astronomy, and geography. The goal is to create spaces that promote wellbeing and attract prosperity. “Feng shui is an environmental science which influences people, whether or not they ‘believe’ in it,” says Sarah McAllister, master of classical feng shui.

How does the feng shui work? Feng shui operates on the principle that the arrangement of objects and spaces can affect the flow of positive energy (chi) in your home. It also seeks to achieve a balance of yin and yang energy. Think of yin energy as soft, feminine, and dark, while the opposing yang energy is hard, masculine, and bright.

When you have good feng shui in your home, it will improve various aspects of your life like your health, wealth, and relationships. “Feng shui is very much about harnessing the purity and power of nature’s forces to enhance our own levels of vitality,” says Sarah. “This can be done via garden design or via incorporating certain natural elements into an interior living space.”


Clean and welcoming entryway in a feng shui home
Furniture And Choice (credit: @oatvale_home)

If you’re thinking ‘how can I feng shui my home?’ and you don’t know where to begin, start with your entrance hall. From a feng shui perspective, the entryway of your home is very important. It is the ‘mouth of chi’; the point where energy enters your space and sets the tone for the entire home.

“Keep the entrance way clear of clutter so that you don’t block the door opening fully, as this can cause the energy to stagnate,” says Sarah. “Keep the external and internal space brightly lit with an eco-friendly light bulb, otherwise the area can become too dark and too yin and lifeless.”

Sarah recommends having either a figurine or an image of Buddha (or other protective symbol depending on your culture/religion) that looks towards the door from a high position in the entrance hall. “It will symbolically protect you by watching over those who visit your home,” says Sarah. “It does need to be higher than the height of the tallest person in the home though, as this elevation reminds us that the energy it represents is higher than the mortal realm.”


Stylish sofa and armchairs in a feng shui living room layout
Loren 2 Seater Sofa, Loren Armchair

A good feng shui living room layout has everything to do with how you position your furniture. The goal is to have positive energy linger and flow smoothly, without obstruction.

To start, ensure your sofa and armchairs face the entryway, so that whoever is sitting can immediately see who enters the room without turning around. “The sofa is best with a solid wall behind it or just off of the centre of the room, but not under a window,” says Sarah. Putting your sofa directly under a window is not ideal because the energy that comes through the window can be too intense, which will make you feel unrelaxed.

Next up, arrange your seats to face each other in a circle with your coffee table in the middle to act as the focal point. This will allow positive energy to circle around your furniture and not shoot through instantly.

Lastly, ensure there’s ample space for movement. You can walk through your living room to test this and adjust the spacing between furniture as needed.

“Don’t worry if there are signs of life in a space, this is very healthy and perfectly normal unless you live in a show home! The Chinese call these things ‘affection’, like a few toys here and there, maybe some clothes hanging around in a pile or some unread magazines,” says Sarah. “It’s when things start gathering dust that you have a problem as the chi is stagnating.”


Feng shui for living room featuring a sofa with round arms
Hampton 2 Seater Sofa

According to feng shui, the design of your furniture can influence the flow of energy in your space. That’s why it’s best to choose furniture with curves or rounded edges as they allow positive energy to circulate smoothly around the room. Sofas with round arms, curved armchairs, and round or oval-shaped coffee tables are all good options.

When it comes to decorating, round shaped items are preferred as they attract energies of wealth in feng shui. Use round lamp shades, round vases, and round mirrors to invite more prosperous energy into your living room. Be sure to avoid furniture with sharp edges or accessories that are spiky as they generate harsh and negative energy.


Oval dining table in a feng shui dining room
Madison Oval Dining Table, Clara Dining Chairs

When it comes to feng shui in the dining room, choosing the right dining table is important. Round or oval dining tables are preferred because their shapes symbolise continuity and completeness, enhancing the flow of positive energy throughout the space. Rectangular or square tables, on the other hand, can create a sense of separation with their corners.

“A circular or oval table is considered more social than a rectangular one, but you can still help create a warmth to the space, even if you have a square table,” says Sarah. “Adding candles creates warmth and appeals to the heart connection, which then supports social rapport and helps digestion too.” Sarah also recommends placing a ‘lazy susan’ at the centre of the table as it’s good fun and requires some interaction with others.

To nurture more positive energy in your dining room, put flowers or bright fruits on the dining table. “Bright fruits are nice and bring a healthful prompt for you,” says Sarah.


Feng shui dining room with a round table and blue dining chairs
Savoy and Ricco Dining Set

Mirrors are more than just decorative items in feng shui; they are powerful tools used to enhance the flow of positive energy. Strategically placed mirrors can enhance a room's positive energy. When used in the dining room, it will amplify the energy of abundance, as the dining room is known to be the ‘vault’ of the home for prosperity.

You can hang the mirror on any wall in your dining room, as long as it faces the dining table. Avoid placing your mirror opposite a window. “Quite often there are fireplaces in a dining room and a common mistake is to put a large mirror above it. The mirror is a water element which causes a fire/water clash that can trigger arguments,” says Sarah. “Instead, have a nice peaceful piece of art above the hearth.”

As for mirror shapes, you can use both round or square mirrors, as long as they are in one solid shape. Avoid using mirrors that are pieced together through multiple mirrors as that creates a ‘broken’ look, which is not ideal for feng shui at home.


Feng shui home office with comfy boucle chair
Addison Dining Table, Riva Dining Chair

To have good feng shui in your home office, start with your work desk. Choose a square or rectangular desk as these shapes represent stability, a good trait for your career. Then comes the placement of your desk. “The orientation of the desk is important,” says Sarah. “Have a solid wall behind your desk so that you feel relaxed and in control of your space and ideally so you can see the entrance door.” Do not face your desk against the wall as that means you’ll have your back around the room, which signifies turning your back on opportunities.

In terms of decorating, Sarah recommends using items that have some sort of movement, especially if you live on your own. “This can be a water feature or an aquarium or one of those kinetic motion pieces of art,” says Sarah. “Fresh flowers or those lovely moth orchids are also a great and easy way to bring natural energy into the space but don’t add them to a cluttered space, only when you have tidied up.”

Sarah also states that you don’t need to have a completely Zen space all the time. “Sometimes we have a few days of high productivity where we need to spread out papers and drawings and get immersed in our internal creativity,” says Sarah. “In this state, we don’t need everything to be perfect. But it is inadvisable to live and work like that all the time, since it gets too confusing, so I always have a nice tidy up after I have finished a working frenzy.”


Neutral living room with feng shui plants
Hampton 3 Seater Sofa

We all know that having indoor plants is beneficial, as it freshens the air and improves wellness but did you know that plants also invite positive energy according to feng shui? Plants in feng shui are associated with life force, growth, and prosperity — so use them generously in your home, especially in the living room.

“Tall upright plants with large round or smooth leaves or palm leaves are great for bringing natural energy into your space. Ideally they are placed in plant pots which are up off of the floor, otherwise their uplifting impact is somewhat reduced,” says Sarah. “Avoid yucca plants or those palms with very sharp leaves. The Parlour Palms are fine though as these are a little pointed but softly so.” Some popular feng shui plants for good luck include the Chinese money plant, jade plant, and peace lily.


Stylish armchair in a feng shui home
Loren Armchair

Clutter not only makes your home look messy but also disrupts the flow of positive energy. So take some time to organise your things and get rid of items that you no longer need or love.

By clearing out the clutter, you'll create space for positive energy to flow freely throughout your home. To ensure your newly decluttered feng shui home stays neat, you can use smart storage options like space-saving wall shelves or double-duty furniture.

Learn more on how to embrace a simplistic home interior with this handy guide on minimalism.


Bright windows in feng shui living room layout
Furniture And Choice sofa sets

In feng shui, windows are considered to be ‘the eyes’ of the home and they play a crucial role in channelling the flow of energy. They are able to bring in positive energy and let out negative vibes. That’s why your windows should always be clean, unobstructed, and allow plenty of natural light in. Clean your windows regularly and do not place bulky furniture in front of them, as that might block the energy flow. For curtains, choose sheer or light filtering ones, so that sunlight can still shine through even when they’re drawn.

Now that you have a clearer understanding of feng shui and how to feng shui your home, you can experience its transformative power and create a space that improves your wellbeing. Interested in more articles like this? Explore the dopamine décor trend or learn how to make wellness a priority in your home.

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