Applying the ancient Chinese art of feng shui, which is concerned with managing the flow of energy, or ch'i, to create a harmonious living space, is particularly important when it comes to bathrooms. Failing to deal with poor feng shui in the bathroom can negate any benefits gained by good ch'i management in the rest of the house.
In feng shui, the bathroom is synonymous with the toilet. No one would deny that it needs to be there, but by its nature, the toilet sucks up ch'i and sends it swirling out of the house. Directionality is important in feng shui, and certain placements of the bathroom can be especially unfavorable, particularly in relation to other rooms. A number of feng shui cures can address poor placement.
You can and should apply feng shui to the bathroom to help maintain a positive flow of ch'i in the room itself, as well as in the rest of the house. A basic understanding of feng shui principles helps, but good old common sense is just as important.
Tip #1: Keep the Bathroom Uncluttered
Clutter in any part of the house interferes with the flow of ch'i, and that's particularly true in the bathroom, because it's such a small space. Hang towels on racks, not over the side of the tub, and keep your health and beauty supplies stowed in the cabinets and out of sight. Put toilet-cleaning implements hidden in the sink cabinet.
Tip #2: Keep the Toilet Lid Closed
In feng shui terms, the toilet traps ch'i and wastes it. That's appropriate when the toilet is doing the job it's supposed to, but when it isn't in use, the lid should be closed. Some practitioners extend this recommendation to all the other drains, as well, because they all provide a pathway for ch'i to exit the house. If the bathroom is well used, it's likely that some of the people who use it will forget to close the toilet lid and the drains. A remedy for this is to place a small octagonal mirror on the bathroom door to prevent ch'i from entering the bathroom in the first place.
Tip #3: Keep the Door Closed
The bathroom should never be positioned directly across from the front door or the entrance to the kitchen, and ideally, it shouldn't be in a bedroom either. In all these cases, you should keep the door closed at all times to prevent ch'i from getting sucked away. It also helps to put a full-length mirror on the door to deflect ch'i.
If the bathroom isn't in a sensitive location, it may be preferable to keep the door open to provide air circulation, but not if the toilet is prominent.
Tip #4: Control Moisture and Odors
Lingering moisture from the shower breeds mold and bacteria that create health problems and discolor the walls and fixtures, so the recommendation to keep the bathroom dry shouldn't raise any eyebrows. In feng shui terms, excessive moisture breeds bad spirits that create sha ch'i, or bad energy.
If you have to keep the door closed, keep a window open or use the exhaust fan. Both serve to control odors, which are also a source of sha ch'i. Placing a few green plants and burning incense also helps.
Tip #5: Use Vibrant and Healing Colors
Because it's the room in which you get rid of what you no longer need or want, the bathroom is a place of purification. Painting the walls light colors reinforces this. Greens are great colors for the bathroom because they bring in the wood element, with its sense of growth and vibrancy. Blues signify the water element and are appropriate as long as the water element isn't too dominant. They work well with white, the color of metal, which reinforces water. White is also the color of purification.
Tip #6: Harmonize with the Bagua of the House
The eight directions (bagua) play a vital role in feng shui design, and normally the front door defines the north side of the house. Some design feature in the bathroom should pay respect to the direction of the bathroom. For example, if it's on the south wall, include a dramatic piece of artwork or paint one of the walls red to invoke the fire element. If the bathroom is in the southeast corner of the house, gold-colored faucets or deep purple towels will appropriately signify wealth and abundance.
On the other hand, keeping in mind that feng shui is about balance, you should de-emphasize the water element in a north-facing bathroom. You can do this by introducing the earth element in the form of beige walls or earthenware vases.
Tip #7: Don't Hang Pictures of Yourself or Your Family
Placing pictures of relatives in the bathroom is equivalent to flushing them down the toilet. Remember that the bathroom is the place you go to get rid of what you don't need. That doesn't include yourself or people close to you.
Tip #8: Use Mirrors to Direct Ch'i
Placing mirrors is a great way to bring light to a dark bathroom or to direct energy away from unfavorable features, such as an old, stained bathtub. The mirror should never be across from the toilet or any place in which anyone using the toilet can see themselves. Mirrors amplify the water element, so don't use them in a north bathroom or one with blue walls.
Tip #9: Fix Leaks Promptly
Water is supposed to flow down the toilet and sink drains—that's their function. However, when water is leaking out of the fixtures, it creates a drain on your life and your health, and finances will suffer.
Plumbing fixtures are designed to hold back water so it's available when you need it. When you let that water leak and go down the drain, it's synonymous with allowing your personal ch'i to leak away. Fix leaky tub, shower and sink faucets, as well as problems that cause the toilet to run.
Tip #10: Bring in Green Plants
Plants signify the wood element, and wood is nourished by water. Plants are a vibrant addition to the bathroom. They help control odors, and they soak up excess moisture. Boston fern, money tree, and especially bamboo are good choices. You don't have to place large plants on the floor, although there's no reason not to. One or two small plants on the vanity or next to the tub will do the trick.
Tip #11: Put the Wastebasket Outside
You use the bathroom to get rid of waste, not have it accumulate in a bucket. Besides interfering with the proper flow of ch'i—which in the bathroom means down the drain—a wastebasket adds to clutter. If you need to have a wastebasket, put it in the sink cabinet or a closet so it's out of sight.
Tip #12: Use Incense and Essential Oils
When used properly, aroma creates a subtle sense of relaxation and peace. Don't rely on bathroom air fresheners and other artificial products that merely mask disagreeable odors by introducing a stronger one. Use incense or an essential oil diffuser to create an olfactory background, and allow air circulation to take care of the odors you don't want to be there.
- Learn About Feng Shui: Feng Shui Bathroom: Learn to Manage the Water Element
- Know Feng Shui: Can I Really Have Good Feng Shui in My Bathroom?
- Your Chinese Astrology: How to Use Feng Shui in Bathrooms/Toilets?
- Feng Shui and Beyond: Create the Perfect Feng Shui Bathroom
- Feng Shui Nexus: 7 Tips to Minimize Your Bathroom’s Bad Feng Shui
Chris Deziel is a contractor, builder and general fix-it pro who has been active in the construction trades for 40 years. He has degrees in science and humanities and years of teaching experience. An avid craftsman and musician, Deziel began writing on home improvement topics in 2010. He worked as an expert consultant with eHow Now and Pro Referral -- a Home Depot site. A DIYer by nature, Deziel regularly shares tips and tricks for a better home and garden at Hunker.com.