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Sharon Stasney - Feng Shui Chic: Stylish Designs for Harmonious Living

"You do not need to incorporate Asian décor items to benefit from feng shui. Whatever your decorating style, feng shui principles will help you design a home you want to live in." With these words, Stasney introduces this interesting book filled with delightful color photographs. After a chapter on "How it all Works" comes "Understanding the Elements." Here Stasney excels. This is a number-one book for understanding the elements.

When discussing shapes that symbolize the Fire element, she says, "Pyramids are more grounded and less volatile than triangles because of their solid base and three-dimensional quality." That valuable tidbit is certainly not found in most feng shui books. When discussing "Design ideas for increasing fire" she says, "The lighter, brighter, and more reflective a room is, the more fire energy it holds. Paint walls semigloss instead of a satin finish, or paint trim a high gloss instead of a semigloss. Consider high-gloss picture frames instead of matte ones." These are excellent feng shui design tips. Under the element Water, she discusses the color black. "Adding black to your space encourages you to develop inner wisdom and strengthen you connection with divine forces through an in-depth study of the self. It is also associated with new beginnings. A lot of black will send a strong message that you are not interested in social interactions." Overall, it's an excellent chapter on the Elements. The last page of that chapter has a great diagram showing the interaction of the Creation and Destruction Elemental Cycles.

Another powerful chapter is "Area Solutions" -- very logical. Here we find the front door advice, "Consider changing the color of your front door at least once a year and make certain that it is sending the correct message to the world. Last year's color might not work to fulfill this year's dreams." In discussing house guardians, she says, "Coconut and bamboo chimes work well as guardians because the hollow spaces represent psychic protection against the unknown. Metal chimes have the clearest sound and balance energy in the body." When discussing things hanging overhead, she says, "Empty hooks represent a tendency to allow the moods and actions of others to trigger undesired responses. You are symbolically leaving yourself open to being caught by psychic traps, jabs, and pulls."

I disagree completely with the bathroom placement in several of the floor plans she shows in the chapter "Bagua fundamentals". In my experience a bathroom is an extreme problem if it doesn't share a wall with the outside wall of the home. In an apartment, an outside wall is any wall, the other side of which outside your locked space. A center courtyard does not count as a full-on outside wall. It is still well within your locked space. I applaud Stasney's intention to take the worry out of bathrooms (with a nice section on page 156) -- but, as far as I'm concerned, there's great reason to worry if a bathroom doesn't touch an outside wall.

On page 30 there is a section of writing in white ink on a light yellow background ("Third Chakra"). It's barely readable. Black ink would have been a better choice.On page 50 there is something that reads like a major typo. The last sentence in the second paragraph doesn't make sense in relation to the preceding two sentences.

On page 139 is a section titled, "The stove." There is a photograph labeled, "Placing shiny objects behind your burners allows you to keep involved with the rest of the room when your back is turned." The kettle in the picture behind the stove is exactly the kind of kettle that you should not buy (if you want to be able to see behind you.) The proper kettle to use when your back is to the door is a dome-shape kettle. The kettle in the picture has straight sides and only shows the stove and counter around it. It's not really fixing the situation.

All in all, the book is a breath of fresh air. The three preceding paragraphs point out minor flaws in an extremely fine and beautiful book.

Sterling Publishing Company, New York, www.sterlingpub.com, (800) 805-5489, 2001, 0-8069-6081-7, 160 pages (all in color), color photographs and drawings, paperback, $19.95

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