Fabulous Front Entrance :: Feng Shui

Have you ever noticed that some front entrances just work fabulously,
while others seem unwelcoming,
but you are not quite sure why there's a difference?

It's amazing how often a home which has a wonderfully welcoming vibe
will have applied some of the main principles of Feng shui,
and most likely that would have happened unintentionally,
because a lot of it is simply just good psychology and good architecture.

Many years ago, I was given a brief to design a luxury hotel
with Feng shui principles…which had to be followed in detail.
Every room, every lift lobby, the swimming pool, the porte cochère:
it was all meticulously planned to create a good flow of energy.

And as I researched the ancient Chinese system
(building on knowledge which we were taught in Uni by a professor
who was very keen on the art of Feng shui),

and applying it to the many floor plans,
I kept thinking how much of it was instinctively "right".

Eg, in a bedroom, the head of the bed is best placed
diagonally opposite the entrance door,
which also happens to be a principle which was used 
in castle design in the middle ages.
(In the latter's case, it was so that an intruder couldn't
sneak up on the sleeping occupant
and disturb them before they could see what was happening.)

But if you think about it,
you probably also sleep most peacefully in a bedroom
with the same layout : it creates a sense of security.
Again, this is unconscious, and many people feel the same way
without realising why.

Now in the case of a Fabulous Front Entrance
(just to get back to the point!),
many of these Feng shui principles can be applied in the layout
and execution of a space to create that warm sense of welcome
which is so desirable.

Feng shui
(in Chinese thought) a system of laws considered to govern spatial arrangement and orientation in relation to the flow of energy (qi), and whose favorable or unfavorable effects are taken into account when siting and designing buildings.

The easiest way to understand Feng shui is to imagine cartoon characters.
Basically, we want the goodies (friends, family) to come into our home,
and we want to keep the baddies (unwelcome strangers) out.
While this is a simplification, you can imagine the goodies are also the elements
which we like to invite into our homes : fresh air, sunlight and prosperity,
which are represented by the qi or flow of energy.

The front entrance is considered to be the portal
between the outside world (represented by the garden path and streetscape)
and the inside world, represented by the home's interior.
Now, because we don't want the whole world
having access to our home,
having an entrance path which is curved or angled
(instead of in a straight, short line from the busy street),
creates the physchological illusion that we have already separated
ourselves from the outside world.
It becomes a journey…and that's the important part.
Curve your path around a tree, or a fountain/ pond
(which is especially beneficial because it incorporates water,
itself another important element to encourage happiness & serenity),
weave around a beautiful shrub,
or create a 90 degree turn
in the path's direction.

This creates a sense of anticipation,
so that when the visitor arrives at the front door
they are already feeling that they have entered into a
more private sanctuary.

Which brings us to the front door itself.

If you are in the process of building a house,
and can choose where & how your front door is located,
you would ideally place it so that it faces the garden,
with a sheltered area around it to suggest thoughtfulness for visitor's comfort
while waiting in the weather.
The front door would open inwards,
to invite the qi (or energy) inwards,
but which also has the psychological effect of making your visitors
feel the same way: i.e. welcomed.

Objects placed in groups of 3 are considered
balanced & auspicious in Feng shui rules,
but again, if we look to many, many other cultures
3 figures again and again in the same way,
and is commonly used in architectural practice to create a sense of balance.
So this door, centred between plain panes of glass,
feels "right". It is balanced and simple.

(If you have a front door which is not centred,
you can create that sense of balance by placing grouped pot plants
on one side only, to counteract the placement of a single window on the other side.)

Most importantly, a front entrance should not be cluttered,
but should be wide, spacious and brightly lit to create a sense of calm and order.

Some personal objects should be placed by the front door,
to create engagement, but not too many or the ensuing clutter will
create a sense of chaos. 

In this example, which is a beach house in Australia,
the inclusion of a painting of elephants suggests the owners like to travel,
or at the very least, have a love of exotic animals…
so the visitor is immediately intrigued,
because it represents a different context from the beach outside.

Colours should be light and bright - again to encourage the "goodies"
to want to enter the space because it invokes a sense of happiness.
However, richer, deeper colours can be also be used
to suggest warmth and welcome,
like a jewel box,
but these would be balanced with plenty of bright, warming lights
to create a glowing cocoon.

What we don't want are murky, muddy tones without enough light so that
it is gloomy. Who wants to enter a space like that? 

And finally, adding a few seriously healthy plants will create
a good atmosphere both figuratively and literally.
As well as helping to increase oxygen levels,
the sight of healthy plants suggests a healthy garden,
which is a place of sanctuary, and after all,
a sanctuary is exactly what we want our home to be, right?

So next time you enter a home and think
"this is beautiful" at the entrance point,
have a stop to think about which of the above principles
may be in existence there….because whether intentionally designed or otherwise,
it's highly likely that Feng shui has been at work.

ORIGIN Chinese, from fēng ‘= wind’ and shuǐ =‘water.’

the fabulous front entrance example used is from a house 
which was recently for sale here.