Feng Shui Fixed My Bedroom

Haley Nahman | February 16, 2017

Four tips on how it can fix yours, too

Feng Shui How To Bedroom Haley Man Repeller (6 of 36) comparison

Welcome-to-Commitment-Month-Series-Man-Repeller

I feel a near-constant desire to rearrange my living space. I always thought this was just a quirky trait of mine, but after speaking with a certified feng shui expert, I learned it might have more serious implications. “Your home is an extension of who you are — a metaphor for your life,” Laura Cerrano told me. She’s the CEO of Feng Shui Manhattan, and for almost 17 years she’s been helping her clients transform their homes to better suit their personalities and intentions.

I asked her to distill the art into quick guidelines for me, a request that ultimately proved my ignorance. Feng shui, she explained, is not about rules so much as principles, the application of which varies person-to-person, takes time and requires a bunch of emotional digging. “It’s not quick, it’s hard work. If you want rich benefits, you have to put some serious thought into what you want.” In fact, one of the first things she discerns before taking on a client is how committed they seem to transforming themselves alongside their homes.

Once she does take on a client, Cerrano walks them through her version of the nine “life areas” (a common device in Western feng shui): love, fame, partnership, career, health, children and creativity, travel and helpful people, and family and knowledge. Each area has a corresponding space, element, emotion and color palette. For instance, the entryway is tied to the career-life area, and technically should be decorated with water elements and cool colors which initiate inspiration and wisdom, but the exact interpretation of the principles will vary by person. (Wood elements help you expand and grow, earth elements help you stay grounded, metal elements help with communication.) This is the more pointed and complex side of feng shui that’s best incorporated with the help of a consultant or a good deal of research.

Not all of it requires depth of knowledge, though. When it comes to optimizing energy (or chi or prana or whatever you choose to call it) in the home, Cerrano explained there are a few straightforward ways you can get started. Below, I outlined the four tips she gave me — a sort of feng shui starter kit — and used my own space as a guinea pig.

1. Declutter

Cerrano said decluttering is the first order of business for all of her clients. “In order to add, you have to subtract,” she explained. “It’s like starting a new painting, you have to clear the palette. Reclaim the space.” She sees the aesthetic appeal of a decluttered space as secondary to the emotional benefits. “The objects you allow into your home are symbolic of who and what you allow into your life.”

Okay, let’s see what I was allowing:

Feng Shui How To Bedroom Haley Man Repeller (6 of 36) This shelf in my room is a perfect example of the chaos I’d introduced to my dressing experience. The top of my bureau was okay, but it never felt quite right to me. I’d sort of just thrown this stuff here with the intention to fix it later, but I never got around to tending to it. By the way, I’m considering my room my main “living space” for the purpose of this story, since I share the rest of my apartment with roommates.

Feng Shui How To Bedroom Haley Man Repeller (4 of 36) The view from the door. It all felt…fine, but not overly thought out or cared for.

Here it is post-declutter:

Feng Shui Aparmtent Haley Nahman Man Repeller-2 Reorganizing that shelf and the top of my bureau and side table was so therapeutic. And it looks much nicer, yes, but the order of it also feels nicer. I’ve started treating my space with more respect. The newfound tidiness has inspired me to be more mindful of how I interact with my things.

My book matches by chance, swear

2. Arrange your furniture in commanding positions

I told Cerrano I’d once heard that the bed should face the wall with the door on it. Like all my preconceived notions about feng shui, this was slightly off-base. It’s less about a specific wall, she explained, and more about what feels right. “In the Western method of feng shui, its recommended that you position your furniture — desk, bed, couch, chairs, seating — in a commanding position. To have them against a ‘mountain wall,’ because you want a mountain at your back for support.”

During our call, she explained she could see both her dining room entrance and foyer entrance from where she was sitting on her couch in her living room. “I feel comfortable and protected because I know who and what is coming in, and I feel more receptive to the energy moving through the house.”

You know when you enter a restaurant and there is a certain part of the room and even specific spot at the table that just intuitively feels like the best place to sit? Cerrano explained that’s the same intuition you should listen to when arranging furniture.

Here’s what I was working with before:

Feng Shui How To Bedroom Haley Man Repeller (15 of 36) Furniture layout was a big issue for me. I knew the setup in my room was all wrong but I had no idea how else to position it (the space is fairly small). Per above, the bureau is to the left of my bed, the closet is to the right, the window is in front of it and the door is behind it. If I was in bed, I couldn’t see who was coming in. To get to my bureau, I had to literally climb over my bed or cat’s litter box.

Another angle:

Feng Shui How To Bedroom Haley Man Repeller (17 of 36) This setup was just bad. I knew the “mountain wall” was the one my bureau was against; I could just feel it, per the restaurant analogy. But I also knew putting my bed there would cause bureau complications. I spent hours moving stuff around — to no avail — before I finally gave the “commanding position” thing a shot. But if I wanted to be able to open the drawers, I knew that would mean putting the bureau in what is essentially the middle of the room. Weird.

…but brilliant? It totally worked:

feng shui panorama haley man repeller (I still sleep next to my cat’s litter box. That remains an unmitigated disaster.)

Feng Shui Aparmtent Haley Nahman Man Repeller-22 The space feels infinitely better this way, particularly from the vantage point of my bed, a perspective I hadn’t considered enough. When I get into bed and when I wake up, I feel much more centered and at peace.

Bug is pleased So does Bug. ^^^

3. Define energy spaces

Cerrano pointed out that none of us are in a static emotional state when we’re home, nor do we want to be. Sometimes we want to feel motivated or creative or contemplative; our home setup should reflect that. Unfortunately, spaces are often built or arranged in a way that disperses energy too quickly or promotes an unfavorable mix of it. “A lot of homes have a stairway right by the front door, for example, which creates a sweeping energy that’s not ideal.” She told me there are tricks to combat this, though, like hanging a piece of art on the wall above the stairs to keep the eye from immediately traveling upward.

Tighter spaces present different issues. “In studios or small apartments, a lot of areas tend to flow together; you’ll want to find ways to keep the energy fields separate however you can,” Cerrano said.

Feng Shui Aparmtent Haley Nahman Man Repeller-1 This was ultimately how I justified placing the bureau at the foot of my bed, despite it seeming like an awkward choice. It felt jarring initially, but after I got used to it, I cherished the energy split. Now my room almost feels like it’s comprised of two separate spaces: a bed nook (above) and dressing area (below).

Feng Shui Aparmtent Haley Nahman Man Repeller-17 I no longer have to do parkour over a bin of cat poop to grab a T-shirt. Big feng shui win.

The end!

4. Assess your art

Cerrano advised, “Take a look at the artwork you have chosen and ask yourself: ‘Does this display the kind of energy I am looking to bring into my life?'” She told a story of a client who’d expressed his desire to find a female partner, but who had two paintings on his wall that were of a man and a woman turned away from each other looking sad. The paintings were from a past relationship, he didn’t even like them and one of the frames had a crack. “I can’t make this up!,” she joked. Another client had an urn on her shelf that was empty, meaningless and which she’d bought years ago and didn’t like. An urn! Cerrano says this sort of mindlessness around decor is more common than you’d think.

“Assess the art in your home as if you were a gallery owner,” she explained. “Does each piece of art relate to you feeling uplifted and motivated? Make sure all objects in your home are speaking to you and saying the right thing.”

This was more about adding than subtracting for me. I had little art in my room, but I hadn’t put much care into displaying it, and some I’d stowed away for no reason. So, after decluttering and rearranging, I took care to decorate in a more intentional way.

Feng Shui Aparmtent Haley Nahman Man Repeller-12 Some of my favorite books now surround my bed (on a white shelf I’d let sit on the floor for months and finally hung up) alongside a rat lamp (never taken out of its box) (I love rats), a golden cat statue (lost to clutter), red felt coasters (sitting on my desk at work, uncherished) and two illustrations I love by Leah Reena Goren (hidden under my bed).

Feng Shui Aparmtent Haley Nahman Man Repeller-11 I moved this Wool Gather hanging (which is so cool and reminds me of a beard) from Anomie back into my room from the living room, where it wasn’t holding much presence. Same goes for the wooden hand I bought from Tate Modern last year. Both bring me an inexplicable sense of grounded calm and had been a little forgotten. I also took more care to rearrange what was on my bureau so it felt like a little collection of beloved knick-knacks, rather than junk I’d found no place for.

Feng Shui Aparmtent Haley Nahman Man Repeller-6 That’s it! Feng shui for beginners, sure, but not without a pretty significant outcome. Decluttering my stuff, rearranging my furniture, defining energy spaces and reassessing the art in my room totally transformed the space and the way I feel (and even act) when I’m in it. And I didn’t buy a single thing! These tips aren’t so different from ones you’d come across in an interior decorating context, but the difference for me was how many of the decisions I made were emotional or intuitive rather than aesthetically driven.

That also means I’m not done. She left me with this: “Feng shui is a long process that involves checking in with yourself and making sure your home reflects who you are. If you are changing as a human and spiritual being, there is a very good chance you’re going to want to update your environment as that happens as well. Changing your home can be a way of moving on from the past, too. Remember the benefits are in the process. Thinking about your desires and intentions and how you’d like those to manifest is one of the most important parts of feng shui.”

Feng Shui Aparmtent Haley Nahman Man Repeller-22 Visit Laura Cerrano’s website here. Photos by Krista Anna Lewis.

  • Mary

    I love this!! But one question: do u have to stand on your bed to get sweaters off of the shelf?

    • Haley Nahman

      No! I can reach from the side of my bed!

  • Looks beautiful! Love that little side table and lamp combo.

    Side note: Bug is such a cute little fluff – raise that snake plant up out of his reach if you ever see him snacking on your plants! They are poisonous to cats – my persian got real sick a few years back from chomping on one 😷

    • magicalhat

      I was thinking the same thing, most of those inside plants are toxic for cats. My cats will eat any plant so I have to be extra careful, but I didn’t notice any bite marks on her plants so maybe her cat doesn’t care for them? It’s best to be careful though!

      • Haley Nahman

        Thank you for the tip! Bug doesn’t ever go near them with his mouth. He actually never chews on/eats anything other than his own food, which is lucky I guess! Will keep my eye out 4 this

  • Hilary

    I also feel the constant itch to rearrange my living space – totally feel you on that. It’s nice to see this feng shui approach, which I’ve always wanted to learn more about. Cue me spending the evening doing this.

    Also, obsessed with Bug <3

    • Haley Nahman

      GOOD LUCK!!

  • Elinor

    I loved this piece. But couldn’t help going back over the photos a second time to visualise and lol at all the squishing and contorting you had to do to get the angles!

    • Haley Nahman

      Omg I know, lol, had to resort to a shitty panoramic eventually.

  • Bug is the best! Seeing that shelf above the bed scares me a little being that I live in the Bay Area, but it looks great 😀

    Would ya mind sharing where your gold sheets are from? I love the color!

  • RJ

    this is not fengshui…..hate how westerners take mysterious oriental concepts and bluff……. for example, in china, you would never ever put a mirror in front of your bed…

    • Haley Nahman

      Hi RJ! Laura Cerrana has been a licensed feng shui expert for 17 years and the business was passed down from her mother (who was one of the first accredited Feng Shui consultants in America, certified by his High Holiness Grandmaster Professor Lin Yun, through The Metropolitan Institute of Interior Design in 1997). They practice Western feng shui, which is a well-established style.

      Laura did mention how many people prefer not to have mirrors in the bedroom, but she said that if you feel okay about it or even good about it, there aren’t hard and fast rules. That said — this is also just a start! I’m by no means hitting every principle here. Just wanted to pop in and mention that because I really respect Cerrano and her super welcoming approach to anyone interested in learning about the art of feng shui.

  • Caro A

    This is great but I just really want to cuddle with your cat even though I’m so allergic! I always wanted to name a future dog “Bug”.

    • Haley Nahman

      I love naming animals other animals!! And I’m also allergic to cats but Bug doesn’t get me for some reason! Prob because he’s my biological child

      • Caro A

        Wait, that is insane! My mom and I have wanted a cat for so long. What kind is Bug?

        • Caro A

          Oh dammit, you said biological.

          • Haley Nahman

            Lol. He’s persian!! I’m not sure why my allergies faded. I’ve heard that many develop immunity if they get a cat when it’s still a kitten so maybe that’s what happened.

            ALSO I almost named Bug Bunny! In fact I thought of Bunny first and then Bugs Bunny and then Bug.

            *~*~*~kindred~*~**~

          • Caro A

            Please get out because I wanted two dogs and one to be Bug and the other to be Bunny!! OMG. My heart is so warm!!

          • Haley Nahman

            stop it. i’m gonna need pix when this becomes reality

          • Grace B

            I have been just waiting for the chance to name a dog Roo (boy) and another Zoe, mostly because I loooove the nickname “Zo-zo” for Zoe. I’m a dork. But also my favorite dog on this planet is named Stumpy and she only has 3 legs.

            Those are awesome dog names Caro!

        • Alice

          I’m allergic to cats and I have 2! There are lots of tips online to living with cats when allergic, like air purifiers. I also think you build immunity in the long term. My body overreacts only when scratched or bitten.

        • Adrianna

          As I wrote earlier, my very allergic mother wasn’t allergic to our Russian blue cat. I would get another Russian Blue in a heartbeat – they are very sweet and gentle

      • Caro A

        Also, one other thing, I also want to name a dog Bunny

      • Adrianna

        My mom is very allergic to cats but, she wasn’t allergic to our late Russian blue, Piotrus.

  • I love these photos! You have a beautiful tiny room. It definitely inspires me to tidy my room and get rid of some clutter 🙂

  • Yvonne Dunlevie

    So you’re saying you do parkour alone in your bedroom.

    • Haley Nahman

      Yes it’s a hobby

  • Abby

    I love your room! And the woven wall hangings are my dream above bed art pieces.

  • Natalie

    I no longer feel bad about my own denim collection 😉

    • Haley Nahman

      Hahaha..the worst part is I pretty much just work off the far left stack

  • Claire

    I love your room, the artwork, the golden cat statue, the rat lamp, the pig mug and most importantly…BUG.

    • Haley Nahman

      I’m so glad u appreciate all my children

      • bregje sturkenboom

        i have the same cat statue! (inheritance from my aunt)

  • Such an interesting read! Love your room, I feel like the ultimate feng shui is Bug standing guard!

    – Natalie
    http://www.workovereasy.com

    • Haley Nahman

      Lol I will tell him you said so!!

  • Nikki Poppiti

    AMAZING.
    but WHERE is your duvet cover from?
    also
    if i’m being honest
    also your throw pillow
    ????

    • Haley Nahman

      Omg

      if I’m being honest

      BOTH URBAN OUTFITTERS

      • Emilee Hassel

        if I’m being honest

        Urban Outfitter’s has a killer home section
        😮

  • BarbieBush

    Such a nice article xx. Really thoughtful and nicely intentioned. Clear and informative and makes feng shui feel accessible when before it seemed like loads of research before anything productive. You should think about updating Similarish every once in awhile. Your voice is unique and I always click to your articles first when scanning MR.

    • Haley Nahman

      Omg thank you so much!! You’re so nice. Shit I haven’t written on similarish is forever, maybe I should…

  • Wiktoria Zielińska

    now all I can think about is how do I get myself a boobie carpet 😀

    • Haley Nahman

      Cold Picnic!! It’s the “bathmat” version aka only $60 versus the more expensive normal version.

  • Grace B

    So, I got married over the weekend and have since opened many generous gifts. But I also live in a 450 sq foot apartment so now I have to figure out where to put everything! Husband (!!) and I are talking about doing a big furniture re-arranging this weekend just to mix it up. We also like a lot less stuff on the wall these days. I like how you applied to just your bedroom Haley, I find feng shui to be super overwhelming but it’s also the reason I don’t store anything under my bed anymore.

    • Haley Nahman

      I’ve def done the 450 thing, such a puzzle but kind of fun. Good luck!!

  • b_rose96

    I love the idea of the shelf out in the open and the color that the clothes on it bring! Great article. Definitely applying these ideas to my own room.

  • lychette

    Great piece! As someone below mentioned, the amount of research put into this article really shines through. I am wondering though, for the sake of transparency, is a piece like this sponsored?

    • Haley Nahman

      Thanks so much! And nope! Good Q though, we state outright anything that’s sponsored!

  • Jess Harkins

    Um, the boob rug!!

    • Haley Nahman

      Cold Picnic!!

  • Summer H

    I absolutely love the two prints of ladies you have in the first “before” photo – where are they from? (If you don’t mind me asking)!

    • Haley Nahman

      I got them from society6.com ages ago, I don’t even remember who they’re by!

  • Alice

    I love your room! I’m realizing my flat is a feng shui nightmare because it is very “angular”. Decluttering helps a lot but while my closet is all tidy the “chair” is always a mess. Also tell me your litterbox secrets even cleaning everyday my cat’s still stinks.

    • Haley Nahman

      Omg whenever I have a chair in my room it becomes a pile of clothes.

      I don’t know! Maybe the litter box I have works well? It’s very closed off and I clean it often! (But it’s hideous) https://www.amazon.com/Petmate-Booda-Cleanstep-Brushed-Nickel/dp/B0002DH8LE/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1487342333&sr=8-1&keywords=dome+litter+box

      • Alice

        I don’t think there’s such a thing as aesthetically pleasing litterbox! Mine is much uglier than that, I’ll see if I can find yours where I live because while paws with fur tufts are cute they carry a lot of litter.

        PS: your cat is super cute, I love persians and how funny looking they are.

    • Julie Lopez

      Have you tried Fresh Step? It clumps fast and is good absorbing odors. I know because my cat´s litter box is in front of my desk…

      • Alice

        Fresh Step doesn’t seem to be available here (I’m not in the US) but I’m testing a new one and so far so good! It clumps really well and smells like baby powder. My last one smelled like ammonia after a few days and I would get home and be welcomed by that lovely scent…

        • Julie Lopez

          Where do you live? I am in Guatemala and was lucky to find it here at a supermarket that sells imported stuff. You are right; the ones with ammonia are the worst. I was using one like that and could not take it. Glad you found a brand that works! Have a great weekend 🙂 https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/7f05d0448d77d435a37491f229da7078c03949e4ed7524d7ea652a28179fad53.jpg

          • Alice

            I’m in Portugal! I dont even know if mine had ammonia or it was some weird chemical reaction.
            A great weekend from me and Pompom to you and your majestic cat!
            https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/0e17da428aa91571a9bb1260b221599665c980a2dfd209e2b8d45b9dc218a9f2.jpg

          • Julie Lopez

            Awwww, I loooove Pompom! He reminds me of a Maine Coon we had, Mutt. Portugal! WOW. How nice. Enjoy your weekend as well. Greetings from Toby, the cat, and me 🙂

          • Alice

            She’s a girl, but with an ambiguous name! She does look like a maine coon or norwegian forest but afaik she’s a mutt, aka common european. Long haired cats are unusual around here so I feel super lucky to have adopted her. Thank you 🙂

          • Julie Lopez

            You are welcome. Very cute girl name. Hope your week is going great 🙂

  • Valeria Solonari

    Ahh don’t have the litter box right where you sleep, it’s so unsanitary. It’s all pointless if you always have to pick up after your cat in the space where it should feel the most comforting and clean, aka your bed :p

    • Haley Nahman

      Omg I know I’m cleaning constantly

      Unfortunately I have no choice as to where to store it 🙁

  • oliviafortune

    Water elements are intimidating. Has anyone experienced this? I would love some non-water water tricks.

    @haley_nahman the headphones on the lamp were such a good idea though.

    • Haley Nahman

      She told me that items that are reminiscent of water — a piece of art that features water or something blue or something (like a rug) with waves/watery movement — can work in lieu of the real thing!

      • oliviafortune

        🙏🏼🙏🏼

  • Catalina

    Great piece. I love learning about feng shui – this article was super insightful. Man Repeller should add one more item to its main nav and it be ALL about interiors and the like (can you tell I have a weird obsession with seeing peoples spaces?)

    and maybe one for cats. <3 bug

  • Abigail Larson

    Freaking obsessed with your cat, you, your room, your denim collection, omg. This piece is FIRE.

    • Haley Nahman

      BLESS U ABIGAIL

  • Angela Gentile

    IS THAT REALLY YOUR CAT Thats the cutest cat I’ve ever seen

    • Haley Nahman

      Yes!!! And I’m in unrequited love

  • ihaveacooch

    that cat!

    • Haley Nahman

      bug says hi

  • garliclovers

    where does your fabulous bedside lamp hail from?

    • Haley Nahman

      IKEA!!

      • garliclovers

        ty! 💕

  • Lola

    Please do a real cool people real apartments with MR employees! Haley your room is what my future apartment dreams are made of. Thank you for being so cool and amazing!

    • Haley Nahman

      thank you for leaving such cool and amazing comments! <6

  • Dale Chong

    This has inspired me to do Feng Shui. Where did you get your shelving??

  • Naw H

    Amazing article as always Haley ! All my favourite articles on MR are written by YOU ! Love the way you express yourself in writing. It feels like your hearing a friend talk.

  • Julie Lopez

    Haley, you have totally inspired me to do something about my at-home office/closet/exercise room/Toby’s (my cat) day-time nap room (includes his litter box too). The way you explain how it works and how you applied it makes so much sense. Can’t wait to start moving stuff around already. Last but not least, I love Bug and how you made it work with what you already had without having to buy anything. Love the art too. Thanks for such an inspiring article! 😀

    • Haley Nahman

      Thank you thank you and good luck!!

  • Leslie

    Literally have that lamp AND book on my nightstand right now. Creepy!

    • Haley Nahman

      TWINS

  • This is great!

    Side note, I’d love to feature your home on my website about rentals one day. What city are you in?

    http://www.rentedspace.com.au

  • sistaelle

    I’d say the shelf over the bed with the clothes on it is bad feng shui. Just as nothing should be under the bed, nothing should be over your head.

    • rolaroid

      Agreed. It’s a bad place for clothes, maybe you can move that over the bureau? I’d only put a painting or a plant up there. Nothing heavy, no books.

      Also I can’t imagine the smell due to the litter box! That must be toxic. You gotta strongarm your roomies into letting you keep that thing in the bathroom or something!

      Good job on the rest though, I’ve definitely had apartments where my feng shui was fucked up, whether the room was small or enormous.

  • Sarah

    Just moved into a new apartment and will definitely keep some of the tips in mind when getting everything into place – thanks for the inspiration!
    I’ve been looking for a bureau like yours forever – is it vintage, or where did you find that treasure?

  • Michela Galante

    (i love rats)

    love how you threw that in there <333

  • Adrianna

    THANK YOU for posting multiple photos of Bug

  • Stephanie Dunn Neal

    I am totally late to the game, but I noticed your awesome large hanging thing (the official term) when you took over snap chat for a day. Yes, I was the one screen-shotting. I wanted to try and make it! Did you buy it? If so, where is it from? I am thinking string, wooden dowels and silk ribbon might do the trick. Am I on the right track?!

  • Jenna Frances Nimar

    Where is that wooden floating shelf from? I’d love to buy some for my home!

  • Camille

    Your space and décor looks clean and bright. Having a heavy shelf above my head where I sleep would make me terribly uncomfortable and doesn’t feel very feng shui to me. Other wise lots of great tips!

  • Mariam Elle Zoghbi

    How do you have plants AND a cat?! I know this sounds really weird but anytime I bring a plant home, my cat won’t stop eating the dirt.