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  • Catherine Brophy

The Art of Placement

Updated: Dec 11, 2019

This month’s newsletter is the first in a series exploring principles of design and Feng Shui that will help you feel more balanced at home and in life. It has taken many years to formulate how to talk about my design philosophy in a way that is accessible to others, however, I am finally embarking on that journey and hope you will join me.


Being in alignment with my own surroundings has been a lifelong study. I’ve been designing interiors for 18 years now, which all began with Feng Shui. Working with the principles of Feng Shui takes design to a new level. It is remarkably practical, integrates seamlessly with any style and is the most effective way to design spaces that connect on a personal level.


Feng Shui literally means wind and water. Therefore at its core, this practice encourages us to be like wind and water ourselves - in harmony with nature.

The Autumn season is a perfect time of year to evaluate your space as well as make changes that will nourish you throughout the colder months spent mainly indoors. So, to kick things off we are looking at the Art of Placement, which quite simply means where things go.


As a designer I think a lot about furniture arrangements, a large component of placement. There is so much to consider when laying out a room: scale, proportion, symmetry, color, light, purpose and so on. While many furniture plans may be viable for a particular space, what I am most drawn to is how to make the space feel more soulful. My aim is a plan that is connected to your core and goals in life. Because the Art of Placement is about you.


The important thing to remember is that you are the primary consideration in furniture planning. Everything around you should serve its purpose in supporting your life. That said, a room must be appealing as well as practical. A successful furniture plan highlights architectural features and can make up for bad bones that for whatever reason cannot be altered…rental anyone? However, if you cannot move around easily, or something truly bothers you and you don’t feel good in the room, then it is not serving you no matter how pretty it appears.

In furniture planning the important thing to remember is that everything around you should serve its purpose in supporting your life. That said, a room must be appealing as well as practical. A successful furniture plan highlights architectural features and can make up for bad bones that for whatever reason cannot be altered…rental anyone? However, if you cannot move around easily, or something truly bothers you and you don’t feel good in the room, then your space is not serving you no matter how pretty it may appear.


Placement is more than where you put the sofa. It’s about perspective. If you think about it where you sit determines what you see and focus on. What you see influences how you feel and how you feel affects everything in your life. So, placement is vitally important because it affects our state of mind.


Designing with the Art of Placement influences the flow of energy throughout a space. One thing I love about Feng Shui is its ability to direct energy toward your life goals. Let’s say you’d like a partner or are striving to reach a financial goal or have a health condition you’d like to clear, your space can be specifically arranged and designed to help you achieve these results.


One thing I love about Feng Shui is its ability to direct energy toward your life goals.


The practice of Feng Shui also removes obstacles. And I don’t know about you, but there seem to be an endless supply of those pesky things popping up in life.


One way to spot obstacles in your environment is simply to pay attention. If something doesn’t feel quite right, or even if you are not fully comfortable in your space, take note. The discomfort is likely connected to an issue in your life that needs to be resolved. Your space is a reflection of your internal landscape. A quick look at the 8 Point System can help locate these major areas of life in your space.


A shift in placement can literally open new worlds. Feng Shui is more than just decorating with intention. It brings deep awareness and removes obstacles internally, so rather than repeating you are evolving. When you fully examine your space and understand what it is reflecting within yourself, the obstacle as well as how to overcome it, becomes clear.


Since I began studying Feng Shui more than 20 years ago, I’ve continually used my own space as a lab. One of my latest experiments involves a vintage sofa found at auction. Low slung and modern, the midcentury Maurice Villency sectional was totally different from the French settee in my living room. A few years prior I had set up my own business and was in the midst of change. I wanted to hunker down, focus inward and create a cocoon in which to hatch new ideas. Feng Shui has taught me that when I am embarking on new roads in life, my environment needs to come along for the ride, so this sofa caught my eye.


It was dirty with measly, flat cushions, but I saw its potential. I drew up the furniture plan. The sectional would be a little tight in the allotted space, but it fit so I bought it. It was sent directly to the upholsterer to be completely refurbished (often the case with vintage pieces). I had an arm added and was looking forward to both stretching out and curling up in all its corners.


I’ve been living with it for a few years now. It sits well in the space, offers a good view out the window and provides significant seating. The Olive green silk velvet fabric is luscious and it’s quite comfortable. However, the longer I live with this sofa I have come to realize it’s like the gorgeous guy who just doesn’t “get” you: nice eye candy…but not a fit.


It all comes back to placement. French Doors connect the living room to the foyer. The right arm of the sofa sits next to one of the doors which doesn’t allow the door to open fully. It doesn’t sound like a big deal, and it isn’t on paper, but the truth is it bothers me now. I can feel it blocking the energy into the room. In the Art of Placement, it is a fatal flaw because what I want has changed. Here is the point – when your own focus and energy shifts your space needs to as well.


It is not a failure to see that something no longer works for you…it’s acceptance. To be in the flow you must be able to let go of things when they are past the expiration date. Whether it’s a pair of shoes, a seemingly perfect guy or the ideal sofa this principle holds true. Just because it looks good and it SHOULD work doesn’t mean it really fits what you need right now. Feng Shui guides you to release what is no longer serving you so you can allow yourself to receive what is truly meant for you...now, in this moment.


It is not a failure to see that something no longer works for you…it’s acceptance.


I spent some time revising my layout. And even just looking at it makes me feel like I can breathe more freely. Spaces are like people: they need to breathe and when they do, we do too.

It may come as no surprise to you that this sectional is now for sale. It has served me well and I would love for it to go to a great home. If you’re interested in details, please click here. I’ve purchased a “new” vintage sofa so stay tuned to see how this transforms my home and sparks an entire re-design that goes beyond my living room.

In closing, it makes no difference whether you are building a new home, renovating an existing one or just refreshing things: allowing your space to evolve in conjunction with your life is a foundation for healthy living and we are here to help. We hope you will stay connected while we explore the many facets of wellness through the lens of Feng Shui and design. Until next time!


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