For thousands of years, Chinese cultures have used the practice of feng shui in architecture, design and décor to orient homes in a way that balances the energies of spaces, and promotes health, tranquility, harmony and good fortune. (Feng shui literally translates to “wind and water,” both of which we have in abundance here in Miami.) Realtors and home sellers can use this ancient knowledge to make their listings as appealing as possible to prospective buyers. While I am by no means a feng shui expert, here are some basic principles that have served me and my clients well.
Space is King
Open space is a fundamental principle of feng shui. We all love space. In fact, we love it so much that we’re willing to give the airlines an extra $100 for a few more inches of legroom. The same rule applies to homes. Buyers should feel like they can move through a home without sucking in their guts, or half-mumbling “excuse me” when touring it.
When I help sellers stage a property, I look for areas where the flow of the home is broken. Is there a couch blocking the patio door? Let’s move it around to open up that space. Is the table too close to the wall? Maybe we can slide it to the center of the room. The buyers should feel like they can throw their keys on the kitchen counter and easily sit down to watch TV.
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Feng shui stresses that minimalism is the key to life, as it will allow your mind to feel at ease in its environment. A relaxed mind is a flowing mind, and buyers will pick up on that immediately in a house with ample open space. They will also feel more trusting to do business with you, since you obviously have your life in order.
The Power of Colors
Because feng shui is about creating harmony, colors in the home should balance accordingly. For example, if the furniture is neutral gray or white, then the walls should have a “pop” to them (think blues, oranges or earth tones). Any accent pieces, such as throw pillows, should contrast the main color to create balance, with yellows and purples working well against grays and whites.
However, try not to go too bold, or run the risk of creating a stressful or artificial environment. You want the home to feel warm and inviting, not like the entrance to a carnival.
Accent on Simplicity
Look, who doesn’t love collector plates? That said, every piece you add just enhances the clutter of that space, and as already noted, clutter is stressful for the mind.
Instead, think of accent pieces as a “greatest hits” of your best stuff. Each piece should connote a certain sensation, without overwhelming the senses. For example, one autographed Dan Marino jersey would demonstrate your love for the Dolphins as much as an entire wall of memorabilia, but with much less disorder.
Mother Nature Knows Best
No talk of “wind and water” would be complete without a dash of earth to the mix. Plants not only clean the air in your home, they make the house feel like a healthy living creature. House plants give the impression that the home is warm, nurturing and a perfect environment for life to flourish. Orchids, English ivy and aloe work well in small areas like kitchen counters, while ficus and areca palms look great in living room corners.
Again, strive for minimalism even with plants. They should feel inviting, not invasive.
Make It About YOU
Feng shui is a celebration of life itself, so make sure your space feels like you’re still in it. What would you like the prospective buyer to know about you? That you love your family? Great — keep the family portraits up and organized on the walls. Do you love mid-century modern teak furniture? Then don't clutter it with stuff and let those tapered legs shine.
We live our lives accenting certain facets of ourselves all the time. If you want your home to feel alive, treat it as you would yourself, and accent its best parts. In the end, it has been my experience that buyers are much more receptive to a space if they feel they can connect with the person living in it, because that allows them to feel as though they can live there, too.
Ivan Blanco is a real estate agent with RE/MAX Advance Realty in South Miami and Kendall. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org