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Feng Shui Kitchens
Sheffield School of Design

When you’re thinking about a home in terms of using the principles of Feng Shui, the kitchen is one of the most important areas to consider. In Feng Shui, this key room represents nourishment and prosperity; after all, it’s human nature to associate food and nutrition with nurturing and sustenance. And as Feng Shui is believed to influence conditions, how you design and decorate the kitchen may influence your prosperity and health. hen you’re thinking about a home in terms of using the principles of Feng Shui, the kitchen is one of the most important areas to consider. In Feng Shui, this key room represents nourishment and prosperity; after all, it’s human nature to associate food and nutrition with nurturing and sustenance. And as Feng Shui is believed to influence conditions, how you design and decorate the kitchen may influence your prosperity and health.

The first thing to bear in mind when considering any Feng Shui advice is that ultimately, Feng Shui is a complex practice with several different schools, and the recommendations will vary from school to school and from one practitioner to another. So too, advice will differ depending upon the unique home—and the unique people living in it. Despite the fact that different schools may have diverse views on some topics, there are basic Feng Shui principles that apply to all kitchens.

Kitchen Placement
The first thing to consider when looking at the kitchen is its placement in terms of the whole house. We can’t always decide where each room in a house or apartment will be in relation to the others, but if you’re working with new construction or doing extensive renovations, ideally the kitchen will be in the back of the house, at least behind centerline of house.

In any case, it’s better if you don’t see the kitchen immediately upon entering the house, as this can portend digestive, nutritional, and eating problems. Having the kitchen at the entry point can also mean that guests will come over and eat and then leave immediately, and such a placement can also encourage the inhabitants to eat all the time.

But if your kitchen is in the front of the house, don’t panic; there are remedies that can take care of this. Use this as an opportunity to get creative, and try hanging sheer or beaded curtains over the kitchen door, or installing louvered doors. Another idea is to provide something delightfully eye-catching near the kitchen entrance but across a hall or vestibule from it, so that the eye is drawn there first.

Kitchen Layout
Looking at the kitchen itself, it’s very important for the cook to be in a "commanding position" when at the stove—that is, facing the door and not with her back to the door when cooking. Renovating a kitchen so this is achieved can be particularly challenging as many modern kitchens have the range facing the wall. If you’re not doing a complete renovation, some Feng Shui consultants recommend that a correction can be made, by hanging something reflective, such as a mirror or a shiny sheet of decorative aluminum, over the stove. This can be any size, but the bigger it is, the more powerful the correction will be.

The most dramatic solution is to use a cooking island. This allows the cook to see the whole space around her, which is good not only in terms of Feng Shui but also in terms of simple practicality: the wider your view, the more you’ll be able to comfortably talk with dinner guests or keep an eye on the kids as you prepare the meal.

This kind of layout for a kitchen happens to fit in nicely with one of the most popular trends in kitchen design. According to Guita Behbin, owner of Duramaid Industries, a kitchen and bath design and renovation company, many customers want an open floor plan for their kitchens, so that the kitchen is part of a "Great Room" which serves as kitchen, living room and dining room. Designing a kitchen around a cooking island will help keep the cook involved in whatever is happening in that Great Room, whether it’s clever before-dinner conversation or hearing about a kid’s English homework.

As people have started to use their kitchens differently than in years past, new kitchens are being designed for two people cooking at the same time. The trend is away from the cook being isolated while the guests or family gathers in the dining room, and is toward the kitchen being a "social center." Today, many people prefer having the guests and family taking part in preparing the meal, and busy couples use dinner preparation as time to unwind together.

Kitchen Colors

The colors in the kitchen should not be anything in the range of red, pink, or purple. These are "fire" colors, and can portend arguments, so if you and your spouse tend to fight in the kitchen, see if the wall color might have something to do with this.

Good colors to use instead are cooling white, light green, and blue. Of the Five Elements—Earth, Metal, Wood, Fire and Water, the kitchen is both a Fire and Water room. In considering the Five Element Cycle, white mediates between the water and fire found in the kitchen.

These colors also fit in with popular trends in kitchen appliances. According to Behbin, stainless steel appliances and hardware are very popular, and that doesn’t show any signs of changing. Luckily, stainless is very easy to match with the lighter colors recommended by Feng Shui experts.

In any room, fluorescent lights do not promote good health; they are constantly flickering, affecting the eyes and nervous system, and can cause hypertension, eyestrain and headaches. However, they do serve a purpose, as they provide bright light at low cost. If you decide that you do need fluorescent lights in your kitchen, use full-spectrum bulbs.

According to Sheffield Feng Shui Course instructor Marelan Toole, good kitchen design is based on a traditional triangle model, with the sink, refrigerator and range making up each point of the triangle. There should be a 6-8 foot distance between each appliance; this allows for maximum convenience and a minimum of repeated moves.

Because you’ll have that space between each of the major appliances, it should be easy to adhere to the Feng Shui principle of having fire elements—such as the stove and microwave—separated from water elements—such as the refrigerator, dishwasher, and sink. They can be separated by something made of wood, or by something representative of wood, such as a plant or a painting of a plant.

The Kitchen Stove
Because the stove represents health and wealth, you want to use the burners on the stove top equally, rotating their use rather than habitually using a particular burner; this represents getting money from multiple sources. The old-fashioned stove, as opposed to a microwave, is often preferred because it is more in keeping with the way that Feng Shui encourages one to slow down, to become more conscious of each activity, and to do activities with intention. Heating a quick meal in the microwave is certainly convenient, but it may not lead to the most serene state of mind. Many Feng Shui practitioners are concerned with excess radiation and electromagnetic fields and would therefore prefer to avoid the microwave altogether and try to use a gas stove rather than an electric one. Obviously, each home and family will have to find their own balance between modern conveniences and optimal Feng Shui practice.

As with all rooms in the house, the kitchen should be kept neat and uncluttered, and any broken appliances should be tossed out—even if it means living without a toaster at all for a while, it’s better to have no toaster than one that doesn’t work very well.

In some cases, the law actually reflects good Feng Shui principles: in New York, it’s illegal to have a window over the stove, and in Feng Shui, it’s a bad idea because the heat of the stove represents prosperity, and you don’t want your prosperity flooding out the window. A good exhaust fan, however, is a necessity.

Luckily, Feng Shui isn’t only about having a room with good ch’i, or energy; it’s also simply a practical guide for design, and because of that, it can be used with any style of room. The most popular current trends, according to Behbin, are for a very contemporary look, with solid colors and wood grains; a very opulent look, with carvings, corbels, and cabinets on legs, or for a simple Shaker style. Any of these styles can be successfully used with the principles of Feng Shui, to make for a kitchen that’s functional, up-to-date, and easy on the ch’i.

Nurit Schwarzbaum, Sheffield Feng Shui Student Advisor
Sarah Van Arsdale, Sheffield Senior Staff Writer.