The Living Room Begins to Take Shape

A simple change made all the difference (ok, a few changes).

Dateline: February 4, 2021

Getting the fireplace insert installed was next on list of house projects but as with everything to do with renovating my house, I got stalled.

In order to install the insert, I had to have the chimney inspected. Turns out the fireplace flue needs a liner.

I told the chimney inspector guy I had already installed a liner in 2013, but he said that was for the furnace flue. (The chimney has two flues.)

And, before I install the liner, an electrician needs to install an electrical box for the insert blower. Putting in an insert quickly became a bigger project than I had anticipated.

While mulling things over, I cleared out one of my bookshelves and began going through the binder that has all my house notes.

Time for a feng shui update

According to my notes, the last time I had done any real feng shui work on my house was in 2017. So much has changed since then that I realized I was due for a complete update.

I’ve been a follower of feng shui since my early 30s. I had a professional to my house for a consultation in 2010, but in the last five years or so, I’ve been teaching myself by reading books and then applying what I learn.

“Why feng shui?” a friend recently asked.

Good question. My house serves many purposes, including housing my business. I have a dedicated office, but I also use the house in ways that directly impact my work and energy — from preparing and eating meals in the kitchen to doing my TB12 workouts in the TV room.

I want my house to sustain my life, my health, and my business. Therefore, all of it has to be in harmony; discordant notes jangle and reduce harmony.

And too, one of feng shui’s main principles is that everything has energy — from the house itself to the possessions in it.

We want the energy in our homes to be positive and to support us versus working against us. Clutter, for example, can lead to negative energy, and depending on where the clutter is and what it’s comprised of, impact that area of our life (re: wealth, love and marriage, etc.).

So, I did a room-by-room analysis two weekends ago and was somewhat surprised to see I had completely missed a major problem.

Two of my living room windows directly face the slider in the kitchen — which means the Ch’i or energy flows in through the Career section of the house and then flows directly out through the Fame section.

The reason the professional nor I had caught this problem earlier is because I used to have an ancient three-season room where the slider / back porch now is.

A few years ago, a microburst hit our neighborhood, causing a mature sugar maple in my yard to fall — damaging the three-season room.

Fallen sugar maple

The room needed to go anyway, so the tree falling was a blessing in disguise. I had the room removed (major project) — and my formerly dark kitchen became filled with sunlight and a view of sky, trees, and birds.

It also created a very large opening for energy to flow in and out.

On top of the fast moving Ch’i, my living room was missing its wealth corner, which I knew, but hadn’t really addressed.

Wealth corner fix: Vintage postcards

According to feng shui principles, when activating areas of your home, you should use things that mean something to you whenever possible.

One thing wealth means to me is taking time off from my business for a road trip. Love road trips — especially to historical places!

I’ve driven to the Laura Ingalls Wilder museum in Missouri, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater in Pennsylvania, and the Canadian side of Niagara Falls.

Me at Niagara Falls. Such an awesome experience!

I had already come up with the idea of buying vintage postcards of the places I’ve driven to, so I had two of the postcards framed and hung them where the living room wealth corner should be.

Vintage postcards, ca. 1960s

I found the postcards on eBay. The New York postcard is super special because it was actually mailed. The sender of the postcard wrote, in beautiful penmanship using a blue fountain pen:

“April 29, 1965 — Dearest B.B.*, We are going into New York this afternoon with Uncle Bob and cousins to take a trip on the Staten Island ferry. Saw a good play, ‘Baker Street’ last night. We start home tomorrow. All love, M, D, J & J. *Beautiful Baby.”

As an aside, we need to ditch social media and send postcards like this one to our friends and family. Wouldn’t receiving a message and card just like this totally make your day? Then, you could put it on the fridge and think lovely thoughts about the sender. Much better than angry social media posts.

Because this one grouping looked so lonely, I took the other postcards in for framing as well.

Slowing down the Ch’i (energy)

The fixes for slowing Ch’i include furniture, curtains, using a crystal to redirect the energy, and pictures along the wall of the kitchen.

I tested the curtains by hanging some old sheers in the living room windows. As soon as I hung them, I could feel the difference — I now had privacy from the street. Wow!

After a few days of testing, I ordered these cute lace panels with bumblebees from Homespun by Andy’s — they’re made in the USA.

(One of my interests is honey bees; I actually signed up for my first beekeeping course, which starts the week of Feb. 16. I’m thinking of raising my own bees and manufacturing beeswax products. Hence, bumblebee curtains seemed fun and cheerful.)

And, I found this pattern for the valances from Spoonflower — designed by Crystal Whalen in Colorado; the fabric is printed in the USA. I wanted something floral, but somewhat tailored and in colors that would match what’s in the living room already. I also didn’t want the pattern to overwhelm the bees. 🙂

This pattern feels soft and happy to me. I love the colors, too.

Fabric by Spoonflower

The valances will be sewn by me — in keeping with the house being mid-century and that women used to make their own curtains on their Singer sewing machines. (View the awesome Singer cafe curtain manual.)

I purchased a crystal with red string from DobiDesigns on Etsy and hung it in the doorway between the kitchen and living room. It’s supposed to help slow down the Ch’i and redirect it.

Dobi Design’s packaging is amazing!

Dobi Design’s packaging — 😍

Created a seating area

For years I’ve wanted a seating area in my living room — a place where people could sit and enjoy each other’s company while drinking cocktails and eating hors d’oeuvres.

I could see exactly what I wanted in my head but believed I couldn’t make it happen until I bought new furniture.

Due to all the wonderful changes happening in the house from the feng shui work, I had freed up a small rug from the TV room (future post).

I put it down under the coffee table and placed the two extra chairs from my new table and chairs set, handcrafted by Saloom furniture makers in Winchendon, MA, facing the couch.

(I found the blue ceramic bowl, hand-painted in Italy, at Savers. The coffee table was made in Vermont. It’s a well-made table but the corners are really sharp, so I plan on replacing it with a round one. The carpet is a US-made remnant I picked up from Gordon Rug Company in Newburyport, MA.)

As soon as I saw the arrangement, *I knew.* This was it. I had finally solved my living room challenge. Basically, instead of having one long “difficult” room, I now have two distinct sections: an entry way and a conversational area. Yay!!

Plus, the energy in the room had completely changed.

I now love this room — even with the old sheers still hanging until the bumblebees arrive and the temporary furniture.

Even my son was like, “Damn, Mom, that looks great!”

When my friend Rachel saw the photo, she said, “You need chairs like this.”

Chair from vintage.com

Yes! Exactly.

Now I just need to go find the furniture I see in my head!

Next up: Making the curtains. I love to sew. And, getting the electrician in to install the electrical box for the fireplace insert.

If you’ve made it this far, thank you for reading! I’d love to hear what you think. Please leave a comment.

Housekeeping

I’ve had more than few requests to create a list of where I buy all my Made in USA products. I hope to have that list completed by the end of February.

Edited to add:

Rachel also sent me this fantastic link of a couple who created a mini-MCM house during the pandemic. The house has its own Instagram page.

Here’s the Twitter link to the thread created by their son. Be sure to click on the photos — amazing!! The house even has a working garage door; I was thrilled to see that I have that same exact door! 😀

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