“How do you furnish a 7 square foot room?”
In a 30-second TikTok video, architect Cliff Tan, also known as @dearmodern, uses tiny furniture figurines to come up with a solution. With over 35.4 million views, it’s safe to assume many were struggling with a similar question – or just curious to see its answer.
Since launching his TikTok account in 2020, the Singapore-born, London-based architect has amassed over 1.6 million followers. His videos cover different rooms and design issues, but #fengshui is the guideline. Distilling an ancient Chinese philosophy for a predominantly Gen Z audience may seem like a drastic proposition, but according to Tan, his advice appeals to common sense. “There is a logical reason behind every principle of feng shui,” he writes in his new book “Feng Shui Modern.” “As long as we understand these principles and apply them meaningfully to our spaces, feng shui will feel natural and instinctive.”
@dearmodern Reply to @brooksugg Rooms can’t get any smaller than this! #smallrooms #smallspaces #tinyliving #interiordesign #interiordecorating #fengshui #dorm ♬ Joe Jenkins Large fairy fountain – Joe Jenkins
In his book, which will be released in the United States this month, Tan breaks down the fundamentals of feng shui, such as chi (flow and energy, collectively) and the five symbolic elements: earth, metal, water, wood and fire (balance C is the key). Tan also explains how to apply feng shui principles room by room, addressing common dilemmas like small bedrooms and oddly shaped kitchens.
Kitchens, in general, present a unique challenge. “Traditionally, kitchens were seen as a utility room, not part of the home,” Tan said in a recent video call from Singapore, where he was promoting his book. But, of course, society and the role of the kitchen have evolved, and according to Tan, feng shui needs to catch up.
If you’re like me, the kitchen is the heart of your home, the place where your guests inevitably gravitate and where you spend most of your time, by choice. Cultivating good chi in the kitchen can improve the quality of everyday life, not to mention everyday cooking.
Here, a guide to applying feng shui principles to your kitchen, gleaned from Modern Feng Shuimy recent conversation with Tan and, of course, his brilliant TikTok account.
@dearmodern feng shui bed positions and their feelings explained #fengshui #fengshuimum #bedposition #fengshuichallenge #smallspace ♬ Life Goes On – Oliver Tree
1. Find the Command Post
A recurring theme in feng shui is the position of command. “It’s the position where you feel the most comfortable,” Tan explained. “The place where you feel safe, not vulnerable.” In his book, he gives the example of walking into a busy café – how you instinctively assess the space and choose the best place to sit: near the window, with your back to the wall and a good view of the whole room.
When planning your kitchen, the first thing to do is to locate the control position, which depends on How? ‘Or’ What you cook — the appliance you plan to use the most. For example, if you ask a Chinese family, it’s all about the wok and the stove; they don’t use the oven as much,” Tan said.
Once you’ve identified your favorite cooking appliance, you place it in the order position – the most prominent place, where you feel comfortable using it. It may be in the center of a large wall opposite the entrance; or maybe you prefer to cook on an island, facing the entrance, to see who comes and goes. “Let how you be your ultimate guide,” Tan writes.
2. Control the fire element
Feng shui experts may have conflicting opinions on how to treat the modern kitchen, but one thing is settled: you need to control the fire element. Tan explained, “Energy comes from growth, wood elements, but not from fire. Fire is stronger. You can have a limited amount of it to balance the other elements, but not a big open flame in your living space.”
So how do you control the element of fire? Once you place your favorite cooking appliance in command position, organize your other appliances, like the fridge, freezer and sink, around it. As they are water elements, it is important to place barriers, such as counters or cabinets, between them and the fire element.
Be aware of how your decor interacts with the fire element. Said Tan, “Don’t have any fire-reflecting mirrors. It’s starting to sound very ‘woo woo’ (Laughs), but basically you want the kitchen to feel like a space where if the fire gets out of hand, it won’t go everywhere.”
And finally, if your kitchen is near the entrance, try to keep the main cooking appliance, like the stove, out of sight of the front door. Otherwise, you risk burning the good chi entering your home.
3. Optimize your performance
“Feng shui provides you with the right environment in which to optimize your own performance to achieve your goals,” Tan writes. While it can’t guarantee a specific outcome – that you’ll land successfully on your first chicken lollipop attempt – designing a cooking space where you want to hang out can certainly help.
Along with designating the order position and arranging the water features, Tan recommends maximizing counter space. “Of course, storage is important, but people underestimate the importance of actual counter space. What if your kitchen has that much storage? If you can’t use it, you can’t prepare food. meal,” he said.
“That’s why I always tell people that if you can, try to use low cabinets, because you can use the tops as counter space. Try to store appliances to give yourself space to work; and if you don’t have enough counter space, you can work on your dining table – have it nearby, in a way that can support you.”
4. Curb aggression
Open shelving and magnetic knife racks seem like attractive design trends, but sharp angles and cluttered surfaces are likely to create aggressive chi in your kitchen.
Says Tan, “Open shelves are popular on social media and glossy magazines. They are beautiful because they are well organized; they become a display platform. But many people don’t realize How? ‘Or’ Whatorganized these things are. The thing is, they’re not really functional. They look good, but it’s hard to keep them looking good in your own home. This is where it gets a little awkward.”
As a general rule, he says, function trumps form.
It’s important to note, however, that “clutter” is subjective – having many objects on a surface isn’t inherently bad. Says Tan, “There are people who need to see their things to work. It’s about how those things affect you. If they affect you negatively, they’re in the wrong place. If they’re supporting you , like if you have a messy desk but everything is in its place, it’s not considered clutter.”
5. Remember to compromise
Because feng shui is rooted in the subjective experience of a space, it’s important to consider individual preferences when designing your kitchen. Take, for example, the increasingly common open kitchen that doubles as a living room.
“If you put the kitchen in the best place in the room and you say: [your partner] wants to watch TV, maybe they can’t be in a position of command while watching TV, so it might require a sacrifice.”
Just as no one exists in a vacuum, neither does a room exist, and it’s important to consider the feel and function of each distinct space; not to prioritize the design or placement of one to the complete detriment of the other. Said Tan, “We all have trade-offs to make.”