Creating good energy in your home is the goal of the ancient practice of feng shui.
Author Ashley Cantley has created a modern practice of feng shui that pulls from traditional Chinese medicine, shamanism, Ayurveda and current studies of energetics.
Cantley teaches a customisable approach to help people bring balance to major life areas, including wealth and wellness. In "High-Vibe Feng Shui: 11 Steps to Achieving Your Best Life," she discusses cleaning and decluttering and fixing energy blocks.
Cantley joined a Washington Post Home Front online chat and answered some questions.
Q: All this time spent working from home has been draining. What are a few easy ways to bring positive energy and motivation to a home office space?
A: Add bright colours in the red family, move your pet into the office if possible, open the windows, position yourself so you're looking out the window, diffuse an uplifting scent like peppermint, add a plant and put inspiring words or images on the walls.
Read the latest Home Improver's digital magazine below
Q: I want to overhaul many areas, and I'm overwhelmed. What's the best way to decide where to start and what to adjust first in that space?
A: Focus on the areas of your space you spend the most time in. Your bedroom would be a great place to begin, because your bedroom affects your well-being, your romantic life and how you see yourself; it's the place you recharge. Break it up by rooms: Start with the kitchen, then the living room. The rooms you don't spend a lot of time in, such as guest rooms, are the last ones to focus on. Please don't think you need to redesign your entire home to change its energy. It can be as simple as bringing in fresh flowers.
Q: What are energy blocks, and how do you fix them?
A: Energy blocks are things in the home that stop energy from flowing or that create low energy. You always want energy to flow smoothly through your home, so opportunities flow into your life. Use things like plants, colors, earth crystals and Swarovski crystals to fix energy blocks.
Q: What does feng shui say about my many indoor plants?
A: In my practice, I talk about building your feng-shui toolbox, and plants are one of my favorite tools to change the energy of a space. Plants hold a lot of energy, and they're a quick and inexpensive way to enhance energy in your home and to fix energy blocks.
Think about what area of your life you want to change or enhance, then align the energy map with your floor plan to see where that area of your life is located in your home. For example, the wealth corner is in the back-left corner of the home, and if you want to draw in more energy to that area of your life, add a few plants.
Never use fake plants, because they are low-energy. Plants with thorns or spikes create harsh energy, so you usually don't want them in your home. Use your intuition; if you absolutely love cactuses, then keep them in your space and fix the energy with another tool in your toolbox.
I'm not great with plants, so, if you're like me, finding the right plant is a matter of trial and error. I love pilea plants (great for the wealth corner), money trees and ferns - anything I can keep alive.
Q: A friend came over the other day and sat down with her purse. I told her she could put her purse on the floor, and she said that was very bad luck and that your money will flow out of it. Is this true?
A: That sounds like a superstition to me. On the other hand, if your friend feels as if putting her purse on the floor creates bad energy, then she should do what feels right for her. In feng shui, it's all about doing what feels good to you.
Q: I've heard that lots of interior doors can cause a negative energy flow. Are there simple ways to deflect that negative flow?
A: Artwork along walls, mirrors and Swarovski crystals are great ways to create a positive energy flow.
Q: Do you have any guidance on light fixtures? Sometimes I feel as if the heavy ceiling fan over my bed gives bad vibes. What if it falls?
A: If you're feeling anxious about your ceiling fan, whether consciously or subconsciously, then it's creating low personal energy for you, and I would definitely recommend changing it. Reposition your bed, or remove the fan and replace it with a standing fan.
Q: What are some quick tips for increasing the financial health of our family via feng shui? We could use help or encouragement to find meaningful jobs and/or make wise investments.
A: There's so much you can do, but here are the areas I'd start with to manifest abundance. Take a look at your front door or entryway, and make sure it's clean, inviting and well-lit. Simple changes, such as a new doormat, potted flowers or a fresh coat of paint, will do the trick.
Anything that draws activity to your door will invite in new opportunities. Think about adding a flag, pinwheels, bird feeders, birdbaths or a little water fountain. Line up the energy map to your floor plan, and look at the front-middle part of your home, which is the career area. Ensure that area is clean and clear of clutter.
Look at the images on the walls. You want everything in your home to reflect what you're calling in. I once worked with a client who had a shipwreck photo in her career area; to me, that calls in struggle. Hang images that inspire you, and add fresh flowers and crystals. Add colour to correspond with the element that goes with that area. Lastly, look at the back-left side of your space, which is the wealth corner. Ensure that it's in order and that there are no energy blocks. Use the same tools from your feng-shui toolbox to raise the energy there. Another tip: Fix water leaks, because water equals money in feng shui, and on a very practical level, if you're leaking water, you're leaking money.
Q: How do you change things up for the different seasons while still maintaining a good energy flow? I want thick blankets in my living room in darker colours in winter, but in spring and summer, I like to lighten the look.
A: It's great to sync up with the seasons. Make simple seasonal swaps with blankets, pillow covers, candles and diffusing scents.
Q: I'm considering painting my home office a more saturated colour, so it's more energising and pleasing to look at on video calls. Do you have recommendations?
A: Choose a colour that flatters your skin tone if you're concerned about how you look on video calls. Never paint a room a colour you wouldn't wear. For me, a blue-toned white is always a great idea.
Q: I live in a home with two adults and four kids. When looking into feng shui, I learned that everyone has different power colours, lucky numbers and energy power spots. How does setting everyone up for success work in a home with so many people? We have two metal, two water, one earth and one wood person.
A: I love that you know the elements of your family. The most important part about living with a lot of people is ensuring your home is balanced in all areas. Do you have too much white, too much colour, too much metal or too much wood? If so, balance it out with other colours, materials and fabrics.
Q: I have a small room, and my bed sits right next to the entry door, with the headboard on the north wall. Is there a better placement available?
A: The ideal location for your bed would be diagonally facing the door, so you can see who is coming and going.
Q: How do you maintain feng shui/the flow of positive energy in a child's room? My kid's room is never tidy, and I feel as if I'm constantly cleaning it.
A: I love using baskets as a quick way to put all the toys away. You can group the baskets by theme (for example, all the dolls, all the Legos), and it will look clean but the toys will still be accessible for the kids to play with. To create peace and balance, consider adding calming elements to the room, like lavender-diffusing oil, plants and earth elements.
Q: I see photos of designed rooms that look as if anyone could live there and that don't have any special elements. I have family photos of great-grandparents, great-aunts and great-uncles. I also have seasonal and favorite mementos. How do you balance your personality with openness?
A: I say feng shui is a living and breathing practice. As your goals change, so should your space. Move items around, add new artwork and do what feels good to you. Don't follow rules that don't feel good.
Q: The floor plan of my apartment is not ideal. The wealth area of my space is in the bathroom. There's a staircase right inside my front door. And, because I'm renting, I can't paint or hang art on my walls. Am I doomed? Are there ways to balance the energy in my apartment that won't involve renovation or breaking the terms of my lease?
A: Nobody has a home with perfect feng shui; the health area in my home lands in the bathroom. You want to enhance the energy in these areas to make up for the not-ideal placement. There's always a fix.