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Feng What? - A Different Approach To Mainstream Interior Design.

It's the key to health and well-being, based on your focal point, the corner across from the front door. It includes strategic placement of plants, pictures of children, flowers and other niceties to enhance your harmony with the environment. Actually, it's the application of ancient Chinese philosophy to American home living. Try feng shui (pronounced 'fung shway') for a different approach to mainstream interior design.

It may sound less than scientific but it's more than a fad. In fact, the media is tracking the success of feng shui in diverse things including predicting the ups and downs of the Hong Kong stock market, not to mention penetrating the consciousness of interior designers and real estate agents. Many celebrities have been using feng shui in their home designs, including Donald Trump who paid a feng shui expert to review designs for the new Trump International Hotel in New York.

Getting ready to list the price on your home, with hopes for a quick sale? Don't forget to avoid the number four. This is not a laughing matter in feng shui terms, nothing short of taking a stroll on the 13th floor window ledge. In oriental terms, the number four means death. List your home at $144,444, and you might send the wrong signal to Feng Shui savvy buyers.

For example, traditional feng shui dictates constructing a home facing south and east, with higher ground behind to block cold weather from the northwest. Of course, that particular concept might not apply to the Sun Belt. But there's more to consider. Actually, many Feng Shui principles fall back on sound home design ideas, based on the energy flowing into and out of your house. (We're not talking home heating energy.) The actual end product frequently enhances your home in both aesthetic and practical terms, according to those who try it. Rearranging your furniture to enhance the energy flow reduces clutter. Who's against that?

In addition, the right color combinations from a feng shui perspective can make for a very pleasing blend, although it's not your bland beige and white approach. White is the color of the north, that's taboo. When an art gallery owner got involved with a feng shui decorator, she ended up with 35 colors in all.

It's a method with as many interpretations, or sects, as any philosophy or trade. The Black sect, for example, focuses on the flow of the house, the location of doors, and other issues. The pyramid school interprets feng shui according to Western needs. Whatever your tastes, or spiritual bent, it doesn't hurt to experiment with alternative design ideas. It's worth a trip to the bookstore, at least.

Sources used in creating this article include writer Jane Gordon and The Hartford Courant.

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