My Secret Weapon for a Happier Home

A little background: I’ve lived in the same townhome for 12 years. We moved in when my kids were little. Now my oldest is away at college and I have two teenagers at home. There’s enough space for us all to peacefully coexist, but, as so many built-about-30-years-ago homes are, the layout is outdated and choppy.

Like many people who reside somewhere for a long time, our home had become a little too lived-in. Plus, I work from home. My office was in the corner of my bedroom and my desk—an imposing, oversized, Army-green desk—was piled with work and papers. It was a scant two steps from my bed.

I share these details because this is a story of how I came to understand two important things about the place I call home. The first is that a space doesn’t have to be perfect to work well. The second is that being intentional about how I use my space affects my life—and the lives of my children—in ways I didn’t realize. I didn’t come to this awareness on my own; I had help, and that help came from something I once thought was a little too “out there” to matter: the practice of feng shui.

I met Robyn Stevens, owner of Robyn Stevens Feng Shui, through a friend. Working with her began with a visit to my home; once she was there, I admitted that I don’t often invite people over. I’m self-conscious about our popcorn ceiling and the 1970s appliances. She didn’t care about that, though; she wanted to talk about goals.

Mine were simple. One was to feel more energetic. Another was to revitalize my freelance career and to carve out space to focus on school; I’d recently been accepted to a graduate program and knew that my free time would be scarce.

Stevens calls herself a feng shui detective and I saw that first-hand even before she came into my home. She stood at the curb and took note: the glass on my screen door was dirty, the numbers on the building partially hidden by the porch posts. She noted the wilted plants in the faded planters and the empty cooler I’d stashed in the corner of the porch.

Once inside, she removed her shoes and put on fresh socks. She handed me a blank journal and suggested I take notes; we were going to walk through my home, room by room, and note what was working and what wasn’t. She embraced my teens and brought them into the discussion.

I was nervous but all of my anxieties—that my home isn’t as nice as others she’s been in, that she might see and judge the dust in the corners, that she might not like my taste in decor or furniture—faded away as we went from room to room. Not once did I feel judged.

Instead, she asked questions.

“Tell me about these printer’s drawers on the wall. What do they mean to you?”

“Tell me how you’re sleeping. Do you feel rested when you wake up?”

“Tell me about the opportunities you want. Are you working with clients you enjoy, or do you want to expand your business?”

She asked my daughter specific questions while in her room, my son other questions while we were in his. And when it came time to talk about my room, she sent both of my teens downstairs so we could discuss how having my office in my bedroom affects my personal relationships and how clearing out old energies is vital in forging new relationships.

She spent more than two hours detecting while we took notes. She recommended practical things, like moving my office from my bedroom to an unused area in the living room. She told me to clean up the outside of the house, shine the glass, and freshen up our entry with new paint; doing so would signal that I’m ready for new opportunities and clients. She told me to take down the printer’s drawers and instead hang reminders of career moments I’m proud of. She urged me to declutter and to let go of things that either don’t work or that we’ve outgrown.

Two weeks later, she called to check-in. She asked what else she could do to help me reach my goals. She helped me set up my office space so it would support me.

The changes are ongoing, but there were immediate results after implementing her suggestions. After her visit we cleaned up the front porch and shined the screen door glass. The next afternoon, I was at the store having paint matched so I could repaint the entryway and I got a phone call from a woman who has since become a client. I’ve decluttered so much that my kids joke that “Savers should have a Lisa Allen corner.” I gave away the monstrous green desk and set up my office in the living room.

Stevens taught us about the bagua and showed us which parts of our home correspond to different areas of our life. She also taught me some feng shui specific cures that have made a difference. We hung crystals in certain places to enhance the flow of energy—chi—through our home. We hung a bagua mirror outside to mitigate negative energy. My daughter placed a rock in each corner of her room, which has a grounding effect on her. I’ve seen a remarkable difference in her focus and her attention span.

I now know that feng shui isn’t an esoteric theory. It’s in play whether we realize it or not, and Stevens has a way of translating the art and science of it into practical, easily relatable terms. She sees it as a vehicle—a fun yet real way to break out of a rut, to wake up and take control of your life—and she met me where I was and helped me stage my home for the life I want to live.

Learn more at RobynStevensFengShui.com.