Feng Shui by Clear Englebert

Feng Shui & Barbra Streisand

Cover of "My Passion for Design" by Barbra Streisand

I like Barbra Streisand. I can’t describe myself as a “fan” because I know fans! (My high school girl friend, Cathy Earnest, is a “devoted fan.” I would even say ardent. We saw Funny Girl together at a theater with a gigantic screen.) I like Barbra’s voice, her acting, and her politics. I just read her book, My Passion for Design, and now I like her a whole lot more. I’d first seen the book in the downtown Huntsville Library when I was back in Alabama in 2014 taking care of my mother. I thought about checking it out, but it’s a really huge book and I already had a big armload of books, so I just made a mental note of it. Well, I just recently got around to checking it out through interlibrary loan here in Hawaii, and I’m glad I waited. It’s a book that deserves time to look over and read. My husband said he liked the pictures (which Barbra took most of) better than those in Architectural Digest. I liked everything about the book—her frankness, her sense of style, and the large size of the book (complete with foldout pages).

The book is mostly about a house she built without planning to ever live in it. She just wanted to build a house—as compensation for not making a movie she was hoping to make. It’s on property next to the house she lives in, but she never refers to it as a guest house. It’s the kind of thing I wouldn’t mind doing if I were super rich—just building a house and decorating it.

Sure, there are some feng shui problems with the house, but they really don’t matter because no one lives there full time. There’s a big picture window in a direct line with the front door and there’s a spiral staircase. Those were the main feng shui problems I noticed, but I wasn’t looking at the book to critique it according to feng shui principles. I was just enjoying it.

But, speaking of feng shui principles, Barbra really did a deluxe job of designing glass shelves to go in glass cabinets. To element the “cutting energy” of the bare glass edge it’s easy enough to put a wooden (or plastic) lip on just the front edge of glass shelves. But the design that Barbra came up with looks so much better than just putting a rim on the front edge. Each glass shelf has a wooden frame around all four sides of the edges. It’s very in-keeping with the style of the rooms and it looks like a million dollars. It couldn’t have been cheap to do something so ultra-deluxe. But then the fabulous pottery that’s displayed on the shelves wasn’t cheap either—just well chosen. (If you want to know more about what I mean when I talk about the cutting energy of glass shelves, this video I did covers the topic very well.)

I like that she likes my favorite two periods of style: Art Nouveau and Arts & Crafts. I like her sense of color: mostly muted tones and burgundy, and she doesn’t care for orange—neither do I. She describes it as too in-your-face—which it is. Probably my favorite thing is how she describes a low center table in the middle of the library. It’s got beautifully rounded corners and she says, “How many times have you bumped into a coffee table? Rounded corners are more humane.” Right on, Barbra! (And she’s considering writing a volume two, so write on, Barbra.)

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