The design of the bedroom is a subject that comes up very often in people’s concerns. This is even more true when people are in search of harmony and call upon feng shui. Indeed, the arrangement of furniture in a feng shui room and the use of colours must respect certain principles. This room of the house is not necessarily the one that benefits from the most space, but this is no reason not to try to optimize it: we spend so much time in our room, especially during our sleep phases, that it is important to manage the energy as well as possible. The orientation of the bed is a very important consideration. Should the bed face north, west or south? Against a wall? Should there be a headboard? Are the rules different for children and adults? Let’s try to get to the bottom of this!
The man/environment, habitat/inhabitant link
Whether we are talking about feng shui according to Chinese metaphysics or Indian vastu shastra, the basic premise is the same: every living being, whether human, animal or even plant, is in resonance with its environment. We all share the same energetic matrix, as if, at the time of the Big Bang, all the energy contained in the Universe had been dispersed into an infinite dust of energetic bubbles. Thus, places are not neutral spaces, but elements that resonate with our own vibrations.
This is why it is so important for human beings to take care of their environment, their living space. A navigator or explorer uses the compass to follow the right direction. But each individual can also use the compass to know the position of his or her house in relation to the cardinal orientation: having this information allows one to exploit the different energy coming from the different cardinal points: no, the energy coming from the north will not bring the same breath, the same chi, as that coming from the south. This was obvious to primitive people who spent endless time observing nature and the sky.
The art of feng shui aims to tame these invisible energy flows, which, like meridians in space, are an integral part of our immediate environment. They cross our house, our garden, weave their way through the streets and rivers, accumulate in enclosed and unventilated spaces, and disperse in the wind.
Under these conditions, it is easy to understand why the bedroom is one of the rooms in the house that requires the most attention. We know that a poorly arranged bedroom can cause sleep and health problems. The orientation of the bed has always been a concern, even in our countryside when feng shui had not yet arrived in the West: how many times have you heard an elder say that you should sleep with your head to the north? But who among us has ever received an answer when asked why? The question here is not to know who is right or wrong, but to see that from time immemorial, men have known that these energies could be used, tamed. The energy that circulates in the house is the first one we are confronted with, and above all it is one of the few we can act on: let’s take advantage of it!
Feng shui and its fundamental principles
Feng shui is an art that dates back over 6000 years. In the beginning, it was only applied to yin habitats: the tomb, the chamber of last sleep we might say! The direction and orientation of the graves were precisely calculated and based on a thorough analysis of the natural environment: the presence of mountains, rivers, the way the wind blew, etc. Little by little, feng shui principles were also used inside the house, since observations showed that chi energy did not stop at the doormat! Reserved only for the upper castes, it has been democratised to spread among all strata of the population and even well beyond the borders of China or the Orient.
For the home, and in particular for the bedroom, the harmonisation of energy through feng shui will use fundamental principles shared with Taoism: Chi, the balance of yin and yang, the 5 Chinese elements.
Chi is the vital breath, at the heart of everything, it is the energy that the feng shui master tries to tame: like a wild animal, he will study its behaviour and try to tame it, to give it the food it prefers so that it stays and is in a good mood.
As for the elements, they are the constituents of everything that exists in this world. They are also sometimes called “phase”. There are 5 elements: wood, fire, earth, metal and water. Each element is associated with a single direction: north, west, northwest, southeast, etc. They have different characteristics and, like members of the same family, do not necessarily like the same things: the northern sector likes water and blue or black colours, the western zone prefers metal and white or grey colours.
Finally, the balance between yin and yang is fundamental because it is the source of the desired harmony: in a bedroom, for example, it is necessary to manage the balance between a yang piece of furniture (a TV) and a yin piece of furniture (the four-poster bed), between the yin man and the yang woman, between the yang atmosphere (lighting) and a yin atmosphere (subdued light).
The bed, the key piece of furniture in a feng shui bedroom
It will surprise no one if I say that the bed is THE most important piece of furniture in the bedroom. Sometimes there are desks in the room, and it is also a piece of furniture that can be important depending on the context, but let’s simplify things here and stay focused on the main reason for any bedroom: to favour rest, sleep and resourcing.
The furniture itself should respect the rules of the 5 elements cycle if possible. For example, if the bedroom is in the North West, then the element of this space is metal. It may be wise to choose a metal bed (in wrought iron for example). On the other hand, if the room is to the east or south-east, a wooden bed may be chosen. In any case, it is important to choose quality materials: it is out of the question to disturb your sleep because the bed creaks every time you turn around, creating a noise nuisance (it is a schar chi). The headboard will only be necessary if it is necessary to compensate for a lack of turtle (shape school).
The choice of bedding must also be meticulous: thick or thin mattresses, soft or firm, flat, soft or memory foam pillows, crumpled linen, cotton percale or satin sheets, feather duvets… If possible (if it is compatible with your budget), make the most of natural materials. Most often they have the advantage of being easy to maintain, not treated with chemicals, and more hygienic. Having natural bedding is an eco-responsible act like any other.
It took me a very long time to invest in my bedding. It’s so easy to find pretty bedding for very little money! But they wear out quickly, scratch, pilling… I had the trigger while spending the night in a Parisian hotel where the bedding was particularly high-end. I thought to myself “what a delight it would be to slip under a duvet like that every day! And then I realised that I could invest in similar quality bedding for the equivalent of the 2 nights’ hotel stay…
Finally, the colours will also be important, especially the colour of the bedspread, which will also have to be in line with the 5-phase rule: pink in the South, grey in the West, green or white in the West, etc.
Bed orientation in Feng Shui
Now that we have set the context, let’s try to answer the fundamental question of the orientation of the bed in a feng shui room. Is it necessary to have the head in the north as our grandmothers said? Certainly yes if you have a Kua 1 number because the North will correspond to your Fu Wei direction, the one that governs your general harmony. But the orientation of the bed to the North can also suit all the people belonging to the East group: Kua 3, 4 and 9.
As you can see, to choose the orientation of the bed in a feng shui room, we base ourselves on the Kua number of the sleeper, and this is calculated thanks to his date of birth. So it is impossible to define a single direction for everyone! This seems logical, doesn’t it? We are all different, why should we all sleep with the same orientation?
It is true that some directions are more favourable than others and that one of the starting points of the feng shui analysis to understand how to arrange the room, is to calculate the Ming Gua of each individual to determine not only which are its 4 favourable orientations but at the same time which are the zones of the house in which they are more likely to recharge. There is indeed the notion of orientation (what is taken into account here is the direction in which the person’s skull points when he or she is lying down: to make it easier to understand, imagine that it is the coronal chakra which is the receptacle, in this case, of the energy of the sector) and the notion of location: one can very well have the bedroom on the west side of the house, with its bed facing north. And vice versa.
The ideal is therefore to combine the two, in relation to the Kua: choose the room located in a favourable area for the person, and define the orientation of the bed so that it is also favourable. Two different elements come into play here and can overlap. This is very practical, because it is the way to make the necessary adjustments when the room is a couple’s room but the two protagonists do not belong to the same group. No, the expert will not recommend sleeping head to toe, that is not very feng shui!
Other elements to consider in a feng shui room
As you can see, the use of colours, even if it was not part of the ancestral principles, is nowadays a precious help in our homes. We are fortunate enough to be able to use flat colours on the walls, to wallpaper a wall with a panoramic wallpaper, or to choose more original wall coverings such as wooden strips or stones. As we have seen, in addition to wall colours, there are also textile colours. Here, while following the advice related to feng shui, match the colours and do not overdo it either so that the decorative atmosphere remains harmonious. Follow the rule of 3, it is perfect both for the decoration and to respect the cycles of the 5 elements.
The lighting in the room is also important, both in terms of the amount of lumen needed and the distribution of the light points (whether they are from natural sources or not). Of course, the ideal is to have a bright room during the day, if possible thanks to large windows providing natural light (by the way, this also allows the room to be well ventilated in the morning and evening, which renews the chi). But in the evening, it is necessary to be able to block out the light (even at night, you can be bothered by the light from street lamps) with shutters or blackout curtains. Beware of the back and forth! It may sound funny but I assure you that when it is badly managed it becomes unbearable! When we bought our country house, there was only one socket and one light point on the ceiling, with no on/off switch. When you turned on the bedroom light to go to bed, you had to get up to turn it off because it was impossible to control it from the bed! My man rectified this within the first few weeks, he was fed up with hearing me grumble…
When decorating the room, make sure you only include items that are symbols of rest and rejuvenation. I always tell my clients that objects are not neutral and that you have to ask yourself about their symbolism, especially when sleep problems arise. The quality of sleep can indeed be altered by the presence of a TV (a yang element that has no place in a bedroom) or a picture of a grinning clown in a child’s bedroom.
Children's room, couple's room: differences?
One may wonder if the layout of a feng shui room, and in particular the orientation of the bed, can change according to the age of its occupant. I said earlier that the direction of the bed, in order to favour sleep, was determined according to the Kua number. Since the latter is calculated according to the date of birth, it is fixed throughout the life of the individual, one does not change Ming Gua when reaching adulthood. That said, there are some subtleties in the way the characteristics given for each number are handled. There are four directions that are more favourable than the others: one is related to health, one to relationships, one to career and one to harmony. This is where it is possible to vary the orientation according to age: for a baby’s room, for example, it may not be wise to favour its “relationships” orientation because its health, its general harmony, may be more important than the relationships it will have with its friends at the nursery. For a single person, dreaming of finding love, this direction will be much more appropriate. In a child’s or teenager’s bedroom, the orientation of the bed can be changed to reflect the problems that will arise over the years. In any case, it is generally not recommended to choose the orientation of the bed corresponding to the “career” direction because it can be a source of too many ruminations and worries about studies or work.
As we have seen, designing a feng shui bedroom and choosing the orientation of the bed is not something that can be improvised. There are certain principles to respect so that the energy of the room is harmonized as well as possible. It is sometimes necessary to make concessions (couple’s room, bunk beds in a room shared by several children…) but what you have to remember is that nothing is definitive. You can test an orientation and then change it if the sleep problem, for example, far from improving, gets worse. It takes about 10 days for the energies to settle and to start feeling the effects of a change of direction. In any case, you must take your time, listen to yourself and be attentive to your feelings because, despite all these rules, everything must be done gently, that is what is most important.