I am a firm believer that the energy in a space can relieve anxiety, inspire creativity, and improve one’s overall well being. 

I’m not the only one that feels this way. Interior design is often thought of as an art form, and it is, but designers also rely on color theory, geometry and angles, and human psychology to create spaces that evoke certain emotions. Feng shui is a recently popularized design method deriving from ancient China. 

Feng shui is an ancient theory using objects’ arrangement to encourage positive energy flow, also known as “chi.” Feng shui, otherwise known as Chinese geomancy, is inspired by a Chinese poem and defines the practice that uses energy forces and positioning of items to harmonize someone with their surrounding environment and the natural world. The term feng shui literally translates to “wind-water”. 

The most important elements of feng shui come from the Tao, or “the way.” To feng shui your room or dorm, you must be familiar with the commanding position and the five elements. The commanding position is the spot farthest from the door, but diagonal from it, not in line with it. Your bed should represent you and should sit in this commanding position. The foot of the bed should not face the door, as this represents death. Traditionally, you should place your bed, desk, and stove in diagonal alignment, as your desk represents your career and your stove represents your wealth and nourishment. 

If you want to learn more about how to incorporate feng shui into your life, you can study the five representative elements (earth, metal, water, wood, and fire). Fire is great for passion and enthusiasm and can be presented by candles and pointy or red objects. Earth represents physical stability in a space and can be brought to life through browns, greens, square-shaped objects, and natural artwork. Metal is for logic and mental agility and can be represented by rocks, stones, gray, and white. Water will help one with inspiration, insightfulness, and their deep emotions. Use fountains, wavy objects, and deeper tones to bring the element of water to your home. The last element, wood, symbolizes growth and can be presented through natural fabrics, plants, indoor/outdoor trees, and wood. Ideally, one should attempt to balance the presence of these five elements in their home. 

Practicing feng shui and being intentional with your space can lead to a more successful career, relationship, and help you focus on what you need to work on. Whether or not you decide to pursue feng shui in your dorm or room, here are some tips that can inspire and help you effectively plan your new space.

My Tips

Take inspiration from your surroundings

We live in one of the most inspirational and arty cities in the world. If you’ve ever been to Bar Marilou in the Maison de la Luz Hotel, you have noticed the tiger striped carpets, packed bookcases and secretive speakeasy-style door. The space was designed by LA-based interior design firm STUDIO SHAMSHIRI. This is a great place to look for inspiration if you are a maximalist. 

Bar Marilou, New Orleans. Image via Conde Nast Traveler.

Don’t use the main light

Quite possibly the most important tip I have is that the main light will kill your vibe. The main light is usually harsh, and frankly, boring. Lamps (short and tall), string lights, and candles provide softer light that can add interest to your space. Antique lamps are easy to come by at estate sales, too. 

Use Pinterest

Pinterest is chalk-full of inspiration for DIY projects and budget-friendly decor tips. The more you pin, the better the algorithm will know your style. Many of my room ideas have come from Instagram or Pinterest. 

Thrifting, antique shops, estate sales, and dumpsters

I promise your best finds that will make people gawk at your gorgeous new room won’t be from Urban Outfitters or Wayfair. Keep an eye out for estate sale signs, go to Magazine Antique Mall, try new thrift shops, and grab art off the side of the road. 


Old frames can be spray painted to give them a new life. Old pots can be painted for a fresh look. Free People sometimes even sells their old retail decor and if you’re lucky, you can score a unique bohemian art piece for $5-$20.

Image via Grace Gottesman.

Add greenery 

Plants are key to building a space with lively energy and can even improve air quality. Succulents and snake plants are probably your best bet for keeping a plant alive indoors. Urban Roots on Tchoupitoulas is a great spot for knowledgeable botanists, inexpensive succulents, and even bunnies you can pet! You can use macrame plant holders to hang fake plants if you don’t have the greenest thumb (like myself).

Make it smell good

Nothing is worse for your mental health than a dirty, stinky room. Candles and incense are a great way to ward away negative energy and make your room smell great. Go to Island of Salvation Botanica in the Marigny for affordable incense cones and sticks.

Express your personality

If you want yellow sheets, get yellow sheets! This space is for you. Hang your favorite band posters, collect postcards from your travels, paint and frame your artwork, use wacky peel and stick wallpaper. Show off your hobbies, too! I put my cameras, books, paintbrushes, and makeup on display. The more you, the better you’ll feel in your space. 

Images via Grace Gottesman.

Featured image via Grace Gottesman.

About Grace Gottesman

Grace Gottesman is a junior from Seattle, WA who enjoys film photography, traveling, and cooking! Through the Crescent, Grace wants to share her love for art, mental health and wellness, sustainability, and her favorite city, New Orleans.

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Grace Gottesman is a junior from Seattle, WA who enjoys film photography, traveling, and cooking! Through the Crescent, Grace wants to share her love for art, mental health and wellness, sustainability, and her favorite city, New Orleans.