The Feng Shui of Your Kitchen Design

Architects find inspiration from the ancient Asian art

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Craven, Jackie. "The Feng Shui of Your Kitchen Design." ThoughtCo, Feb. 10, 2017, thoughtco.com/feng-shui-of-your-kitchen-design-175950. Craven, Jackie. (2017, February 10). The Feng Shui of Your Kitchen Design. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/feng-shui-of-your-kitchen-design-175950 Craven, Jackie. "The Feng Shui of Your Kitchen Design." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/feng-shui-of-your-kitchen-design-175950 (accessed September 25, 2017).
Feng shui kitchen has stovetop with direct visual access to doorway.
The cook should be able to clearly see the doorway without turning away from the stove. Photographer: moodboard / Collection: Brand X Pictures / Getty Images

Modern-day architects and believers in the ancient Eastern art, Feng Shui, agree: When it comes to home design, the kitchen is king. After all, it's human nature to associate food and cooking with nurturing and sustenance. 

Feng Shui practitioners suggest that how you design and decorate the kitchen can influence your prosperity and health. Architects from the Western world may not talk about the ancient art of Feng Shui, but they'll intuitively figure out the energies of space.

Chi, or Universal Energy in Feng Shui, is compatible with universal design and accessibility in architectural practice. Both share many of the same core beliefs, so let's look at some basic Feng Shui ideas and see how they apply to modern kitchen design.

You Gotta Believe: The Disclaimer

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. Recommendations will vary from school to school and from one practitioner to another. So too, advice will differ depending upon the particular home—and the unique people living in it. Yet, despite their diverse views, Feng Shui practitioners will agree on basic principles for kitchen design.

Placement: Where's the Kitchen?

When you first plan to build a new home, where should you put the kitchen? 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 the center line of the 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. 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. Use this as an opportunity to get creative. Try one of these easy solutions:

  • Hang sheer or beaded curtains over the kitchen door.
  • Install louvered doors.
  • Provide something delightfully eye-catching across a hall or in a vestibule near the kitchen. That way, attention is diverted from the busy kitchen.

Kitchen Layout

It's important for the cook to be in a "commanding position" when at the stove. The cook should be able to clearly see the doorway without turning away from the stove. This is also good accessibility practice, especially for the deaf. Renovating a kitchen to this configuration can be particularly challenging. Many modern kitchens place the range facing the wall. To resolve the problem, some Feng Shui consultants recommend hanging something reflective, such as a mirror or a shiny sheet of decorative aluminum, over the stove. The reflective surface can be any size, but the bigger it is, the more powerful the correction will be.

For a more dramatic solution, consider installing a cooking island. Placing the stove in a central island allows the cook to see the entire room, including the doorway. Beyond the Feng Shui benefits, a cooking island is practical.

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—or they!—prepare the meal.

About Cooking Islands:

Cooking islands have become a popular trend in kitchen design. According to Guita Behbin, owner of Duramaid Industries (a kitchen and bath design and renovation company) many customers want their kitchens to flow into an open space, or "Great Room," that includes a living and dining area. Designing a kitchen around a cooking island will help keep the cook involved in whatever is happening in that Great Room, whether it’s before-dinner conversation or hearing about a child's homework.

Feng Shui-inspired kitchen design dovetails with the contemporary trend toward "group cooking." Instead of isolating the cook, families and guests often gather in the kitchen and participate in the meal preparation.

Busy working couples use dinner preparation as an important time to unwind together. Cooking with kids becomes a way to teach responsibility and build self-esteem.

The Triangle:

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 (view example). There should be a 6-8 foot distance between each appliance. This distance allows for maximum convenience and a minimum of repeated moves.

Providing space between each of the major appliances will help you follow a core Feng Shui principle. Separate the fire elements—such as the stove and microwave—from water elements—such as the refrigerator, dishwasher, and sink. You may use wood to separate these elements, or you can use a plant or a painting of a plant to suggest a wooden divider.

The feng shui element of fire is expressed with the triangular shape. In the kitchen, controlling fire is a good thing, whether you're an architect or a feng shui consultant.

Kitchen Lighting:

In any room, fluorescent lights do not promote good health. They constantly flicker, affecting the eyes and nervous system. Fluorescent lights can cause hypertension, eyestrain and headaches. However, they do serve a purpose, as they provide bright light at low cost. Light energy will influence your kitchen's energy. If you decide that you do need fluorescent lights in your kitchen, use full-spectrum bulbs. Energy-efficient lighting and appliances are characteristics of both Feng Shui practices and green architecture.

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. Changing burners  represents getting money from multiple sources. Of course, the practice can also be seen as a practical step, similar to rotating the tires on a car.

The old-fashioned stove, as opposed to a microwave, is often preferred because it is more in keeping with the Feng Shui belief that we should slow down, become more conscious of each activity, and do activities with intention.

Heating a quick meal in the microwave is certainly convenient, but doing this 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. Obviously, each home and family will have to find their own balance between modern conveniences and optimal Feng Shui practice.

Clutter:

As with all rooms in the house, the kitchen should be kept neat and uncluttered. 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. See Feng Shui Tips for Clearing Clutter.

Good Energy = A Practical Design:

In some cases, building code regulations actually reflect good Feng Shui principles. Some codes make it illegal to place a window over the stove. Feng Shui believes that windows should not be placed over stoves because heat represents prosperity, and you don’t want your prosperity flooding out the window.

Luckily, Feng Shui isn’t only about having a room with good ch'i, or energy. Feng Shui is also a practical guide for design. For this reason, Feng Shui can be used with any style of room. The most popular current trends, according to Behbin, are:

  • a very contemporary look, with solid colors and wood grains
  • a very opulent look, with carvings, corbels, and cabinets on legs
  • a simple Shaker style

Any of these styles can be successfully combined with the principles of Feng Shui to make for a kitchen that’s functional, up-to-date, and easy on the ch'i.

It is truly amazing how much the ancient Feng Shui beliefs have to tell us about the design of modern kitchens. What type of lights should you install in your new kitchen? Where should you place the appliances? Architects and believers of this ancient Eastern art offer solutions, and their ideas are surprisingly similar. East or West, good design rules the day.

Source: Content adapted from an article by Nurit Schwarzbaum and Sarah Van Arsdale, courtesy of the online Sheffield School of Interior Design at www.sheffield.edu, now the New York Institute of Art and Design (NYIAD).

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Craven, Jackie. "The Feng Shui of Your Kitchen Design." ThoughtCo, Feb. 10, 2017, thoughtco.com/feng-shui-of-your-kitchen-design-175950. Craven, Jackie. (2017, February 10). The Feng Shui of Your Kitchen Design. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/feng-shui-of-your-kitchen-design-175950 Craven, Jackie. "The Feng Shui of Your Kitchen Design." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/feng-shui-of-your-kitchen-design-175950 (accessed September 25, 2017).