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From the Editor

Is the walkway to your home a bit messy, maybe some vegetation curling intrusively over it? Inside, is your coat closet too full for visitors’ garments? Is your living room set up with two sofas against a wall? Is the lighting very, very bright in the dining room? Are there pictures of your parents and kids in the bedroom?

Debbie Roddy, owner of Lotus Blossom Feng Shui Designs, would tell you that if you answered in the affirmative to any of the above, well, get ready to hear about the negatives.

I invited Debbie, in this issue themed to homes, gardens and design, to bring her perspective to the messages people send in the way they present their houses. Let’s walk in her shoes as she interprets what she sees.

Exteriors—Looking at a home from outside gives you your first impression of its inhabitants, she says. Messy sidewalk? Untended foliage? Can’t see the front door from the road? Screen ripped? No street number visible? No clean, functioning doorbell or knocker? These conditions tell you that the people don’t care about the appearance and don’t really welcome being involved with others. Those with healthy self-esteem who relate well to others will take care of all those things and personalize the space with ceramics or egret statues, a decorative flag—all signals you’ll be treated well once inside.

Foyer—Look for fresh flowers, candles, artworks, a rug with patterns, colorful accessories that show, says Debbie, a need to give comfort to themselves and guests. If the lights are too dark or too light, there’s no table for bags and keys, no room in the closet for more coats, breakable items too nearby, this is not a place that aims for your comfort.

Living room—Just by looking around, Debbie says, you can get a good idea of how the social interaction will go. You know you’re not particularly welcome if you spot a lion skin with the teeth facing the front door, the room overrun with too much stuff, uncomfortable fabrics, table surfaces easily damaged, sofas lined up against a wall. Pictures of inanimate objects suggest the owners are not wanting to be with others, and paintings of themselves in prominent places (like over the fireplace) indicate self-centered orientation. On the positive side: seating on three sides to encourage conversation, accessories that reveal people’s histories and values, tables that can be reached from seating so you can grab a drink, chairs with arms to make you more comfortable.

Dining room—You’re trying for atmosphere here, and you need a dimmer switch to get the right level of lighting, a clean and maintained table, rug or carpet, candlesticks. You should be able to see the artwork from where you’re sitting. But get the artwork right. Debbie says, “I had a client with a painting of a rainy day scene with the people viewed from behind—and the client wondered why their dinner parties weren’t cheerful events.”

Bedroom—This is your private sanctuary to let out emotions and to rejuvenate with a good night’s sleep. Debbie recommends having the bed facing the door so you can see a problem and deal with it right away. It shows self-confidence in facing up to life’s problems. The signs that you’re not in control or want to keep your distance: unmade bed, paperwork from the office on your nightstand, TV across from the bed, no pictures or personalizing accessories. As for the photos, couples shouldn’t display shots of their parents or kids. “They’re looking at you when you need to focus on each other,” says Debbie. “I had clients where the relationship improved when they removed those family photos. I’ve also seen negative effects from pictures of a stormy sea and of a woman from the back. You want pictures of people caring about each other.”

So, if you believe, get busy with your homework. It’s about learning the many ways to say, “You’re welcome.”

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