The first thing to bear in mind when considering any Feng Shui advice is that ultimately, Feng Shui is a complex practice with several different schools, and the recommendations will vary from school to school and from one practitioner to another. So too, advice will differ depending upon the unique home -- and the unique people living in it. Despite the fact that different schools may have diverse views on some topics, there are basic Feng Shui principles that apply to all kitchens.
The first thing to consider when looking at the kitchen is its placement in terms of the whole house. We can't always decide where each room in a house or apartment will be in relation to the others, but if you're working with new construction or doing extensive renovations, ideally the kitchen will be in the back of the house, at least behind centerline of house.
In any case, it's better if you don't see the kitchen immediately upon entering the house, as this can portend digestive, nutritional and eating problems. Having the kitchen at the entry point can also mean that guests will come over and eat and then leave immediately, and such a placement can also encourage the inhabitants to eat all the time.
But if your kitchen is in the front of the house, don't worry. There are remedies that can take care of this. Use this as an opportunity to get creative, and try hanging sheer or beaded curtains over the kitchen door, or installing louvered doors. Another idea is to provide something delightfully eye-catching near the kitchen entrance but across a hall or vestibule from it, so that the eye is drawn there first.
Looking at the kitchen itself, it's very important for the cook to be in a "commanding position" when at the stove -- that is, facing the door and not with her back to the door when cooking. Renovating a kitchen so this is achieved can be particularly challenging as many modern kitchens have the range facing the wall.
If you're not doing a complete renovation, some Feng Shui consultants recommend that a correction can be made, by hanging something reflective, such as a mirror or a shiny sheet of decorative aluminum, over the stove. This can be any size, but the bigger it is, the more powerful the correction will be.
The most dramatic solution is to use a cooking island. This allows the cook to see the whole space around her, which is good not only in terms of Feng Shui but also in terms of simple practicality: the wider your view, the more you'll be able to comfortably talk with dinner guests or keep an eye on the kids as you prepare the meal.
This kind of layout for a kitchen happens to fit in nicely with one of the most popular trends in kitchen design. According to Guita Behbin, owner of Duramaid Industries, a kitchen and bath design and renovation company, many customers want an open floor plan for their kitchens, so that the kitchen is part of a "Great Room" which serves as kitchen, living room and dining room. Designing a kitchen around a cooking island will help keep the cook involved in whatever is happening in that Great Room, whether it's clever before-dinner conversation or hearing about a kid's English homework.
As people have started to use their kitchens differently than in years past, new kitchens are being designed for two people cooking at the same time. The trend is away from the cook being isolated while the guests or family gathers in the dining room, and is toward the kitchen being a "social center." Today, many people prefer having the guests and family taking part in preparing the meal, and busy couples use dinner preparation as time to unwind together.
On the next page: Choosing colors for your kitchen & where to place the stove
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