Feng Shui @ 50 Why Not?

MamiamSeptember 22, 2012

Hi All --

Been a year or more since I last posted...had just "downsized" from a Victorian to a country charmer set deep in the mid-Atlantic woods. Have very large kitchen w/adjoining sitting area w/fireplace that God willing will soon be GUTTED to begin kitchen overhaul. Sorry no pics as yet, but here are the particulars:

*We're breaking the rule "flooring last" and laying it first because the old linoleum is simply intolerable.

* 800 square feet of tile will be lain in kitchen, sitting area, hallway, and laundry room. It is a high-definition porcelain tile that looks like slate. We intend to lay the tile clear to the wall -- that is to say, no penny-pinching and stopping where cabinets will sit.

* Cabinets and countertops will be dumped and we will "make do" as we build cabinetry ourselves.

* Sink cabinet will be stainless steel w/ louvred doors for air flow purposes. (My insistence -- very damp here in the woods and dampness draws BUGS! EEEEEEKKKKKK!) So sink cabinet will be stainless steel and it will be installed soon after tile has been lain.

* Countertop will be solid slab soapstone and we're going to buy and store enough of the same lot from the salvage yard to do entire kitchen and install as we complete wood cabinetry.

* We'll be adding stovetop island underneath huge skylight in center of kitchen.

* Will remove window above sink and adjacent upper cabinetry to incorporate large bay window over sink and sink counterop area. (We have a spectacular view of the woods from kitchen window and I see no reason why we shouldn't see more. Plus I want a bay window for the plants that need to come in from screened porch during the winter.)

*Fireplace is full-wall limestone boulders. Sitting area around fireplace and hallway is lined with thick knotty pine paneling floor to ceiling. Knotty pine will stay.

* Hubby wants to use poplar for cabinets and paint them. I like the idea.

So ...given the slate-like flooring (black w/ hues of green, red, and grey) and given the blackness of the soapstone, given the necessity to "tie in" w/ the knotty pine walls and the limestone fireplace for paint color of cabinetry I'm thinking to go with Feng Shui brick red! And creamish-yellow trimwork or backsplash.

I figure we need some brightness and well, what better than red and yellow?

Nope -- I'm not going for white cabs. Everybody these days is goomg for white cabs. But I'm in the woods and I have two dogs and FLEAS are attracted to white. (Just sayin -- no white -- no way.) If it weren't for black in the floor and counterops, I might be talked into grey.

Truly... I'm feeling red and yellow. And red and yellow are Feng Shui.

And red and yellow cabs would be so contrary to my usual "safe" decisions that I'm thinking it's a fab idea for a 50-something couple with grandchildren.

What the heck...we only live once. Right?

But what's your reaction? Good idea? Bad idea? Crazy enough that it might work? Or not?

Don't be shy -- tell me what you REALLY think!

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Well my goodness, I'm certainly ALL for not white cabinets, that's for sure. They just are not my idea of a good time.

Who makes this Feng Shui Brick Red stuff? As I'm not much of a Feng Shui'er, I'm a bit lost about what it might look like. Do you have a color chip or something you can post to show what it looks like in real life?

My attitude about kitchens and colors/materials used is that if it makes the owner HAPPY it's achieved the goal.

I too planned painted cabinets, a sort of coffee brown on my base cabs and a creamy color on the top ones. I'm now planning to use a stain and probably poplar wood. Most of my kitchen selections are from Lowe's in stock materials, flooring and countertop, but I've dropped them for cabinets and going with an independent local source. And for the record I'll be 74 next month and now have a great in the family. :)

Have fun with your new kitchen!

    Bookmark   September 22, 2012 at 12:57AM
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Sounds fun! Go for it!

    Bookmark   September 22, 2012 at 1:19AM
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I had to do a color scrutiny in our lake cottage with the original knotty pine and stone fireplace. It was time for large ticket items-furniture and carpet..paint/window treatments etc.[no kitchen re-do yet] and we like carpet underfoot...Basically-[and this is a summary]-but believe me I spent hours/days on this-it was greens with white/black as the neutral players with shots of teal/turquoise. The red/yellow family was too Hot with our pine and did nothing with the stone fireplace ...the teal/turquoise has complementary veining in the stones once I looked closer to figure out why that worked. Anyway,I had chips and samples laid around for different times of day...yes it can be quite dark....we have trees and its far north so the sun drops down after summer. They are strong elements to work with-people around here paint over the knotty pine-we're not doing that.Enjoy whatever you choose-I would bring in sample chips of colors for the various things you're doing.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2012 at 5:41AM
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This is a bit off your question...but if you are planning on standing under a skylight while cooking, and adding in a bunch more window glass. PLease Please Please make sure you get a qualified HVAC contractor to calculate your cooling load when designing your AC. These changes while they don't affect your square footage, can make enough of a difference in your cooling load to require changes to your air conditioning system. You may need more cooling in the space than before.

No one, especially a woman in her 50s or her husband-wants to be too hot in kitchen, especially if it's humid!

    Bookmark   September 22, 2012 at 6:41AM
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The colors sound interesting. I've always loved red cabinets, and red with knotty pine does sound like it might work well.

However, a cooktop under a skylight sounds like a recipe for a dirty skylight, and those are pretty darn hard to drag the ladder out to clean. Unless you are planning a island hood to cantilever down from the adjacent ceiling over the cooktop ala cloudswift? Remember than cooking is only 10% of your time spend in your kitchen. Prep is 70%, and if you want a more social kitchen, plan the island around doing your prep rather than your cooking.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2012 at 7:13AM
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Since I have red cabs I say go for it.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2012 at 7:42AM
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As someone who recently did a kitchen with Feng Shui considerations I say go for it! But my kitchen has no red or yellow. That's because those colors are really more Imperial China. While Chinese emperors did employ Feng Shui, yellow is the color of royalty similar to purple in the west. Red is for power and fending off evil. If anything, Feng Shui is about balancing colors and using colors to strengthen areas of weak energy flow. Just a little food for thought.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2012 at 8:23AM
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I was confused about the use of Feng Shui as a term, vs. process.

Colors and natural elements, aligning elements in your home with the compass directions and 5 elements creates fortunate Feng Shui, but to say something is Feng Shui is, well, incorrect use of the term.

Everything is Feng Shui. Creating positive Feng Shui is the goal. It's in the layout, the materials, the seasons, the flow, the organization, and attitude. It's not two paint colors.

The "spine" of the house should be open from one end to the other. The bed, when lying in it, should have your feet to towards the north. How the corner foundations are laid (if you're starting from scratch) is important.

If you like red and yellow, go for it. But I'd research exactly what "Feng Shui" is.

There's also an Indian/Hindu form of Feng Shui (the Sanskrit term escapes me right now) but it's no surprise the principles are the same. Whereas Asian methods create a more simple decor, the Indian method pieces employs more of the elaborate carving that requires spiritual energy to create. It's very fascinating. Gratifying to discover when you've actually been creating positive Feng Shui without even knowing the process!

I'd really love to see your results. Where on the mid-Atlantic are you? It sounds rather Appalachian or Garret County (Maryland) to me. :)

    Bookmark   September 22, 2012 at 11:18AM
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Uh oh! Our feet face east!
But sounds like you are going to have lots of fun with this project! Can't wait to see your decisions

    Bookmark   September 22, 2012 at 1:25PM
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>Uh oh! Our feet face east!

No problem--you're just following the western superstition (not widdershins), instead of the eastern one.

Reiko has lots of feng shui design tips and suggestions on her site:

Here is a link that might be useful: reiko--feng shui and design

    Bookmark   September 22, 2012 at 1:36PM
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CEFreeman: The indian/ Hindu principles are called "Vastu"? They recommend a SE location for the kitchen with the cook ideally faing east when cooking. Red and green are encouraged as colors for the kitchen.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2012 at 6:34PM
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Oh, my, I gave up on understanding Feng Shui and just go with my own ideas of color and placement. We live on a country road and house placements follow the curves of the roads around here. I guess our feet are facing sort of SW'ish when sleeping. I solved which way to face when cooking by not cooking. : )

When we move into Mule House our feet will be facing east. We will also be facing east when using the kitchen.

Hmmm, I'm not sure that in rural Alabama Feng Shui has a snowballs chance of getting a toe hold on local thinking. I, however, am from someplace else! Open to all the energy I can garner. :)

    Bookmark   September 22, 2012 at 7:46PM
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Just to take the Feng Shui thing a little further, the direction of feet and all that stuff is all relative to the individuals who live in the house. Those generalities are just that. Believe it or not, you can have a house that is good for one spouse yet bad for another. That's because all this mumbo jumbo factors in a person's birthday, down to the hour. The good news is that Feng Shui principles have all kinds of ways of balancing things so that the disposition of the spouse who is negatively affected by the energy in a house can be harmonized without disturbing the energy for the spouse who's already in a favorable disposition. Yeah, it's complicated.

To really oversimplify it, if you look at designs that fall under "zen" styling, you'd be closer to the essence of what Feng Shui is all about.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2012 at 10:12PM
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Hmmm, great stuff coming from this thread. I'm much more of a positive thinking person than my DH. Maybe if I changed the position of his feet at night it would help. Seriously.

Zen styled homes seem so ultra simplistic. While I can admire their beauty they seem a little remote. Not expressive of the lives of the persons therein dwelling.

As I've gone through my life I've acquired elements of the various places we have lived and visited. Where would I put all the wonderful reminders of those places? Pottery from Sausalito, Saracuse, Saluda, and Scottsdale? Stained glass windows from Las Vegas, Charlottesville, Oregon City and Hedgesville? I guess I'm saying I'll skip the serenity and keep the memories. : )

    Bookmark   September 22, 2012 at 10:54PM
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Yep, my house has no Feng shui, either, since I'm in Kentucky. Our valley runs North- South, though, so maybe that counts for something.

I think the color scheme sounds great!


    Bookmark   September 22, 2012 at 11:07PM
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>That's because all this mumbo jumbo factors in a person's birthday, down to the hour.

Not only that, there are two different ways of calculating (white star/purple star) which can give very different results for the same individual.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2012 at 12:37AM
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Your color scheme sounds a great deal like the color scheme of my house, an old Maine cape. We have lots of knotty pine throughout the house, the exterior and laundry room are BM Hawthorne Yellow, Dining room color-matched to Ralph Lauren Malyea Red (deep rosy brick), the kitchen has Basalt Slate formica countertops and more knotty pine. In my opinion, the colors look fabulous together and are warm and inviting.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2012 at 9:22AM
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Oh my goodness! I never expected such thoughtful and varied replies! But thank you, thank you, thank you, all of you. You have all given me much food for thought.

I am in the only remaining rural section of the Garden State -- Northwest New Jersey -- directly across from Delaware Water Gap, Pennsylvania. Yes, there ARE woods in New Jersey and NO, most of us aren't anything like what you've seen on "Jersey Shore" or "Jersey Housewives." LOL Sorry if I sound unnecessarily defensive, but OMG -- perceptions have NJ have gotten so bad that half the time I lie and say I live in PA!!! ; )

Just to clarify: I was using the term Feng Shui tongue-in-cheek as I had read somewhere that red and yellow were recommended in kitchens designed under that paradigm. Also bought a book about it when we were searching for a new home. I found many of the ideas made sense, as in common sense -- like de-cluttering and making conscious decisions about placement of our objects. I did, however, stop reading after about the fifth chapter because it got too darn complicated, even superstitious.

A funny side note: just recently my husband and I moved our bedroom furniture because I wanted to wake up in the morning to see the view outside (windows on south facing wall). I told him I had read that the head of the bed should be on the north wall for marital harmony and feet should be facing south. So basically I convinced him to help me move the furniture by promising he'd get lucky more often if he only helped me change the direction of the bed. Well, that effect was indeed achieved and an additional unforeseen benefit is that we got a better traffic pattern bc we don't have to navigate around the bed to get to the closet anymore. So while apparently I had that "rule" backwards -- it worked for us! LOL

I am reminded of a line from Hamlet (I think): "Nothing is neither here nor there, but thinking makes it so." ; )

That said, thanks again for all of your feedback. There was not one person whose posting didn't warm heart. This is a GREAT forum and I'll post pics just as soon as I get one of those round tuits.

Warm Regards --

    Bookmark   September 23, 2012 at 11:57AM
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Great news! Even though the head of our bed faces the wrong way - my new cubbie in the kitchen is aligned perfectly in a North South direction! I plan on spending a lot of time reading in my nook! And with a stretch of the imagination, the cushions are a shade of red (cayeene) and some of the cushion have yellow in them. So I might have a bit of Feng Shui in our house after all!
This is so much fun!

Can't wait to see your kitchen!!

    Bookmark   September 23, 2012 at 1:13PM
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