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A tradition 6,000 years in the making can breathe new life into your self-care sanctuary.
We include products we think are useful for our readers. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a small commission. Here’s our process.
Raise your hand if you’ve been on a home-improvement whirlwind ever since the pandemic started (*raises hand*). It’s been the thing to do, since our homes are the places where we are spending most — or all — of our time these days.
Many of us have been looking to maximize every square inch of space to make over our abodes into headquarters of peace and harmony in the midst of a chaotic world.
Enter: feng shui (pronounced “fung shway”). It’s a practice hailing from China that’s been around for years — in fact, experts believe it started over 6,000 years ago.
Although it can be applied to every room of your home, the bathroom is a pretty good place for beginners to start. It’s small, so you won’t get overwhelmed with the art of feng shui furniture arrangements. And since it is on the diminutive side, a feng shui bathroom makeover won’t break the bank.
Read on to learn the basics, why feng shui doesn’t look too favorably on most bathrooms, and how to bring balance to your bath.
Feng shui is a centuries-old practice that focuses on promoting good mental and physical health, success, and positive energy throughout a space.
Julie Schuster, NKBA-IFSG-CLIPP, Principal of New York-based Julie Schuster Design Studio is a holistic wellness and feng shui expert. She explains that feng shui translates to “wind and water,” adding, “One can think of it as arranging our interior spaces to be ‘in the flow’ of nature.”
The practice wraps in five elements inspired by the outdoors: they include wood, fire, earth, water, and metal.
- Wood: creativity and growth
- Fire: leadership and boldness
- Earth: strength and stability
- Metal: focus and order
- Water: emotion and inspiration
There are many guidelines that feng shui practitioners adhere to, from placing certain items in specific “fields” (i.e. Career, Wealth, Love, etc.) to sticking to certain colors, like blue for Career Luck or brown for Wisdom.
Another focal point is energy, known as “Qi” or “Chi,” something that Schuster says refers to all forms of vital energy and its flow. In other words, it’s the feng shui way to say, “good vibes.”
Essentially, feng shui helps you make the most of your space by harmonizing its energy flow and balancing the five elements to help their corresponding traits thrive in your life.
So, why should you bring feng shui into your home, and specifically, your bathroom?
“From a traditional feng shui perspective, bathrooms have a bad reputation as they are thought to drain and flush away positive energy. This is because ‘Chi,’ or positive energy, is represented by water, which will either sit stagnant or flow out bathroom pipes and drains.
Feng shui devotees believe good energy gets literally flushed down the drains of your toilet, bathtub, and sink. That regular water use is amazing for flushing away bad vibes, but unfortunately, the positive feels can go away with it, too.
When designed correctly, a bathroom can transform into a luxurious, spa-like escape that supports relaxation and rejuvenates the spirit,” Schuster says.
And we could all use some of that stress-busting ambiance nowadays, right?
1. Location, location, location
First of all, it doesn’t matter if your bathroom is huge or tiny. But the location does matter, something to keep in mind if you’re starting a bathroom from scratch (which most of us aren’t).
Since it tends to be looked upon as a “negative” space, it shouldn’t be placed in the “heart,” or center of your dwelling. It shouldn’t face your kitchen, as the kitchen represents wealth and fame — those prosperous vibes might flow into your bathroom and right down the drain. The same thinking goes for the bedroom, which signifies health and family.
But location isn’t everything. Here are some other ways to bring on the good vibes…
2. Keep ‘em closed
A closed toilet lid can prevent some of that good Chi from going down the drain. A closed door can also prevent positive vibes from spilling in and getting sucked down the drain.
3. The right stuff… materials, that is
In a feng shui bathroom, focus on materials that reinforce the “earth element,” which can bring nourishment and centering into your home.
These materials unsurprisingly come straight from nature. Schuster recommends marble and quartz for sinks and countertops. People also turn to ceramic tile, glass, and stone to strengthen the natural atmosphere.
4. Nature-inspired hues
Schuster says that the earth element can be further brought into a bathroom through color choices, like soft terra-cottas, light yellows, or taupes and light browns.
“Introducing the earth element will ‘dam’ the abundance of water, which is overabundant in the bathroom,” she explains.
5. It’s easy being green
Schuster says that plants represent “wood energy,” which is fed by water and can help control that overabundance of water going on in a bathroom.
“Plants are terrific at balancing energy in the bath, and soaking up excess water,” Schuster notes. “Plants also purify the air in any room, so they are great for this, too.”
She recommends orchids as “wonderful air purifiers” that look beautiful sitting on a vanity.
6. Keep it light and bright
Feng shui aficionados are all about inviting natural sunlight into their homes, and the bathroom is no exception.
“Ensure your bathroom receives plenty of sunlight and fresh air — both are wonderful disinfectants and natural energy boosters,” Schuster says. She adds that you can add a dimmer switch to adjust the light if your bathroom doesn’t have a window.
7. Good scents
Just like any self-care sanctuary, in a feng shui bathroom, you can create a relaxing atmosphere through candles and essential oils.
“Aromatherapy is always a fabulous idea in the bathroom for enhancing our sense of well-being and purifying the air,” Schuster says. “Lavender, chamomile, and rose are all good choices.”
Candles are an option, too.
“Scented candles in particular bring soothing energy and can help mitigate if you happen to have a bathroom in the center of your house,” Schuster says.
8. Take feng shui to the walls
Schuster says that a mirror is essential to a bathroom, but be forewarned that mirrors represent the water element, of which there is already too much in a bath.
She offers an option of hanging a round mirror; round shapes signify the metal element, representing the positive qualities of strength and determination.
As for artwork, Schuster shares a simple approach: “The art should be relaxing, or something that sparks joy.”
9. So fresh and so clean
Cleanliness is also straightforward in a bathroom, at least when it concerns feng shui. Schuster says that sunshine and fresh air are the big essentials for making a bathroom feel its cleanest.
For most of us, a complete bathroom redo isn’t feasible. It’s pricey as heck and if you’re a renter, you’re limited in what you can do to change up the space. But simple accessories can go a long way toward bringing some feng shui goodness to your toilette.
- If you can’t buy a marble countertop right now, purchase one of these marble onyx pyramid sculptures for your vanity instead. Buy them on Etsy.
- Build a backsplash with ceramic tile. Buy it on Etsy.
- Bring in the earth element through an orange-hued bathmat. Buy it on Etsy.
- Yellow Turkish towels will also introduce the earth element into your bath. Buy them on Etsy.
- An air-purifying orchid is a must. Buy it on Etsy.
- Include other air-purifying plants, like a Pothos. Buy it on Etsy.
- Feng shui or not, lavender essential oil is a good idea in any bathroom. Buy it from Mountain Rose Herbs.
- Buy a feng shui candle to reinforce the earth or wood element in your bath. Buy it on Etsy.
- A round mirror is a necessity. Buy it on Etsy.
- Allow artwork to soothe your soul and spark joy. Buy it on Etsy.
- Feng shui is a centuries-old practice that focuses on promoting good mental and physical health, success, and positive energy throughout a space.
- Fans of feng shui believe that a bathroom can be a negative place since it “flushes” good energy down the drain.
- This unfortunate attribute can be alleviated through placing it away from the center of your home, keeping the toilet lid closed, and incorporating nature-inspired hues that represent the earth element.
- Natural sunlight, relaxing scents, and a host of houseplants are also ways to invite good energy into the bath.