By Kartar Diamond

I sometimes jokingly say, "Everybody deserves at least 600 square feet." I am not being literal, but I often see people living in very small spaces, (too small for the number of house mates or family members), to be really comfortable. Clients also apologize for having clutter, when on closer inspection they really do not have a lot of "clutter," just a lack of sufficient space to store things they genuinely need.

A home that is too small for the number of occupants, or too filled with things is a house that is referred to as "too yin." The energy cannot circulate thoroughly in a house that is filled to the brim. The house needs to breathe in other words. This excessively yin environment can actually make the people too "yang." This means they are more likely to argue or feel hostile.

It may just be an individual room that is too small and one wonders why a builder would even construct a room that is so tiny, but we all know they exist. In this circumstance, occupants need to become experts at storage and furniture selection in order to make the most of every square inch. This is a case where a Professional Organizer can be a godsend. This doesn't mean that a small space needs to be sparse and strictly utilitarian looking. A cozy, colorful environment can also magically look larger.

One time I had a client lift up a table cloth draped over a table in her living room and she proudly showed me that is where she stored her earthquake supplies. You can be creative in how you save space. An extra shelf or two can make a huge difference in getting things up off the ground or doubling the amount you can fit in a closet. An appropriately placed mirror can also make a room feel larger than it is.

Ironically, another way that a house can be considered too "yin" is if it is too large for the number of occupants. When a single person lives alone in a very large house, there is not enough human "chi" to liven up the place. There is stillness in the space, not for lack of ventilation, but just lack of activity. Either way, too small or too large, the space that is too yin can attract ghosts. At the very least, it will drag down the energy and vitality of the occupant.

When a house is very large, it is important for the occupant to use as many rooms as possible and not let whole areas be ignored. This is where pets can help liven up a place and make it less "yin." Having frequent guests and parties can even be considered a legitimate feng shui remedy for a house that is really too large. We all instinctually know that when you move into a new home, having a house warming party is one way to literally initiate and inject new energy into your home, and there is a conscious choice to invite people you are fond of to bring their personal energy into your space.

So, what is the ideal square footage for the amount of occupants? There is no fixed or literal ratio, but extremes are easy to identify. If five people live in a 2 bedroom apartment or one person lives in a 10,000 square foot mansion, then neither extreme environment is conducive to health and well-being. Sometimes it is smarter to rent storage space than to struggle with lack of space in an overflowing apartment. (And this is assuming that there is not a "pack rat" clutter problem, such as when people cannot seem to part with things that most people would consider junk).

One of the goals in feng shui is to create balance, whether it is for home or work. Balancing the ratio of space with occupants or space with furnishings is a very practical and important aspect to a feng shui audit.


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© Melt Magazine 2004