In her book, Feng Shui Today, author Jami Lin speaks about door placement and how careful consideration of function can avoid the problem known as arguing doors. Arguing doors are doors that open into each other, or operate inconsiderately. Consider the house that I live in which has three pairs of arguing doors; the front door opens into the front hall closet door, a bathroom door opens into the bathroom closet door when that's open, and the back hall closet door ran into the door that leads to our garage until I had it removed. When you think about how people use homes, and how homes are laid out, there's often a disconnect between form and function.
Lin states emphatically that form must follow function. Had the people designing our home thought about it, our door problems could have been eliminated. Another thing I like about her style is that Lin offers solutions and encourages a positive mindset. In other words, I shouldn't be upset about my doors, I should see them as opportunities to enhance and enrich my life. Lin suggests installing louvred doors as a good option for closets, especially if there is a ventilation need as there would be for a closet that stores extra bedding or a heater. We have the advantage of owning our own home, that may not be the case for apartment dwellers or those living in other places that they can't change. Mirrors can be used to help solve some of the energy problems according to Lin, but I'm not sufficiently expert in this field to make any recommendations unless great sums of money are involved.
People in my circle of friends tend to be accepting of me, but there are times when I run into those who roll their eyes at the idea of feng shui. Whenever I encounter things such as feng shui, or yoga, that have a religious or mystical element, I try to see if the underlying principles will work once those elements are removed. I do not have to embrace yoga as a philosophical ideal, or a religion to practice the movements or the type of breathing that it encourages therefore it passes my test. While Lin's book explores astrology and natal charts, I find that much of what she has to say stands alone without these concepts, and they're interesting enough to me that I skim them rather than skip those chapters entirely.
Last week I picked up a book called Easy Elegance at the library. I also bought a book on landscaping that I haven't had a chance to finish, but I started both books and have found that good design frequently incorporates elements of feng shui, and once you start to understand concepts, you'll start picking them out when you come across them. It's easy to be critical of the builders or designers who put our house together, but as I've learned more about style, design, and architecture, I've come to appreciate just how difficult it can be to think of problems a structure will have before it is erected, or in the case of a remodel, how changing one thing will affect another and you will have to deal with the new unintended consequence.
Our patio doors need to be replaced, I was thinking of having French doors installed before the guy who came out to measure told me that the swing would hit the beam in our sun porch ceiling if I went with anything other than a traditional slider. That was the first thing he noticed and it was a factor I hadn't considered until he explained door usage to me. He could easily visualize what would happen if French doors opened up into the sun porch and I could see erosion of interior floor space if I had French doors that swung into the back room. Perhaps you don't have the desire or the financial resources to purchase a home of your own. Many feng shui concepts can also be applied to property that you wish to rent. I open doors and peek into closets when I'm viewing places, we had planned to sell our home back in January so we spent several months shopping for a new home, and it's really amazing how many different types of door arrangements there are.
Where I live, there are two buildings downtown that are roughly across the street from each other. Draper Hall is a local landmark and we were fortunate enough to tour a condo on the top floor that we were thinking of purchasing before we realized that it wouldn't work for us at this point in time. Charles Draper purportedly went mad designing the hall that bears his name today. It was ruined in a fire back in the 1930s, rebuilt, and still exists today as an astonishingly well built set of condos that are laid out in an unconventional, yet efficient manner. The realtor told us that some of the residents were paying seven or eight dollars a month to heat their units as a result of the construction and materials he used. I stood in the expansive living room that looks out over two lakes and had to admire his vision and ingenuity. Whether he was familiar with it, or studied feng shui formally, he had a fabulous understanding of balance, harmony, and above all, functionality of living space.
To return to Jami Lin and her book, Feng Shui Today, it's a conversational read that packs a lot of information into less than three hundred pages. Part of it I can't get into, but the wealth of information and its daily application for many areas of home and work life are not to be ignored if you want or need a better understanding of geometry and energy flow. Lin uses the terms chi and energy interchangably for those who are uncomfortable with the word chi although I like the idea of energy particles since that makes sense to me. So often I see furniture that is out of proportion to the rest of the room, poor design, and I've made so many decorating mistakes of my own I feel I could write a book on what not to do. Topics such as lighting, materials, shadows, negative space, color, height, time of day, how space will be used, ways to improve the place you have using what you have, basic geometry, paper flow, and encouragement are combined with a love and passion for what she does keep this book on my shelf although sometimes I feel as if she could go deeper into explaining things for the novice.
Initially I was rather dismissive of feng shui. I had read a couple of online articles and others I had found in magazines. The majority of those do a great disservice to the practice which is another reason why I value Lin's work which does not quickly gloss over a few highlights, leaving the reader with a bland or confused idea of what consitutes real feng shui. It's my personal opinion that this book is best used as a place to start if you are new to design, decorating, or feng shui. Historical discussions that take place may be of interest to those who are familiar with the Platonic ideal as Lin occasionally introduces past thinkers along with more modern examples such as Frank Lloyd Wright. There's a lot to learn, but I don't feel stupid reading her book although she is clearly an expert and I think that's important since I hate it when I feel as if authors are lofting their experience and expertise over someone who lacks their level of education. There are times when she gently chides the reader, I don't always love her tone, but the quality of the material is such that I feel I can recommend this book to most, even if they don't believe in feng shui or have serious reservations about the spritual realm.
Her simplification of the color wheel, inclusion of ancient Mayan and Aztec calendars, and frank talk of fertility and sexuality in bedroom areas and the chapter on yin and yang are fun, mature, and a far cry from some of the drier books I've read where the author's personality is muted if it is included at all in a work. Arguing doors is just one application that I've found useful in her book. She has other ideas on decorating, design, windows, and door problems as well as strategies to help you overcome and try to solve them. I'm not done with her book yet. I have to read it in small doses, and I like to try things out as I go along which is another part of her book that appeals to me. I would recommend this book to anyone who is thinking of purchasing land, or building a home as well as to those who are interested in learning more and going beyond awkward and arguing doors.
When I was in the eighth grade, a girlfriend invited me to spend the night over at her place. Imagine my horror when I found that the bathroom door and closet door knobs had slid past each other and I couldn't close either of them. It was an honest mistake, but her dad was mad when he had to take the outer bathroom door off so he could detach it from the inner bathroom closet door. My friend didn't speak up when she was asked about the doors so eventually her stoner brother took the blame for the problem I had caused. I'm not sure how I managed to stick those two doors together, but ever since then I've been conscious of the possibility. I am personally grateful to Jami Lin for giving this term a name and glad that she took the time to write about this that others can avoid the embarrassment of showering in a strange bathroom, opening one door into another and standing there dripping wet trying to unstick two arguing doors.