Feng Shui Nightmare in a Brownstone Bedroom


THE BEDROOM IN MY PROSPECT HEIGHTS PIED-A-TERRE is finally coming together. Last week I committed myself to a 1960s platform credenza, above, for storing my family’s photo archive, a more attractive repository than the half-dozen plastic bins in which our photos and personal memorabilia had been sitting (see below – yikes).


After much shopping around, I bought the credenza at Re-Pop near the Brooklyn Navy Yard. My penultimate stop was Baxter & Liebchen in DUMBO, a warehouse specializing in designer-name Scandinavian modern, mostly teak. Gorgeous stuff, but I didn’t want to spend four figures. So I ended up back at Re-Pop, where I chose a 78″ long piece by the American furniture company Kroehler, with a geometric raised pattern on the front, paying just under $500. It was delivered last Friday (in a snowstorm, naturally).


But then came the placement question. My bedroom — the back room of the garden floor of a brownstone — is huge, about 300 square feet, but oddly shaped, with several nooks and niches. I had originally intended the credenza to go in the niche next to the closet, where it would fit snugly. But the queen size bed had been tucked in there, above, and in order to put the [extremely heavy] credenza in that  niche, where I knew it would look good, I would have to move the bed to the only possible other wall, since the others are either not long enough or have doors on them (one to the living room, one to the garden).


In the meantime, I had the movers put the credenza temporarily along that other wall, above, where it looked lost in space.


The main problem — and I’m not kidding about this — is that there’s a massive ceiling beam running across the room — a wide, heavy I-beam, above — that would bisect the bed, lengthwise, along that only possible other wall. Ceiling beams above the bed, according to my internet research, are nothing less than a feng shui nightmare. “Beams carry a tremendous load,” says one much-reproduced tract, “and this pressure is focused into the beams generating chi which continues downwards, placing direct pressure on you while you sleep.” This can be debilitating and cause physical problems, says Denise Lynn in Sacred Space: Clearing and Enhancing the Energy of Your Home, one of the feng shui reference books I plucked off my shelf. Terrifying, isn’t it?

What to do, what to do? Fortunately, there are some recommended ‘cures’:

  • paint the beams (the beam is already painted, whew)
  • drape fabric over the beams (I’m not going for a harem look, really)
  • hang bamboo flutes 2-3 inches below the beam at a 45-degree angle,with the mouthpiece downwards, to “soften the load”
I went on to read more feng shui advice for the bedroom:
  • place your bed in “the king’s position”where you can see the doorway (I can see one of the two)
  • don’t place your headboard on the same wall as the incoming door to your bedroom (same wall, different plane, because the wall jogs – don’t know if that’s a mitigating factor)
  • make sure when you lay in bed that you can see the incoming flow of energy when someone enters your bedroom (no one is entering my bedroom unless I know about it) — otherwise, you will miss new opportunities in your career or that great partner that you wanted to meet, because you don’t “see” the energy at night coming to you (guess I’ll have to take my chances) and you won’t be in control of your life (who is?)
  • if you can’t change your bed to another wall, place a small mirror opposite the door so that when you open your eyes you can see the doorway in the mirror (that I can and will do, pronto)


A Brooklyn brownstone doesn’t lend itself naturally to feng shui principles, I’ve decided. Yesterday I took it upon myself, with the help of plastic coasters as sliders, a couple of bathmats, and sheer determination, to move the credenza into the desired niche, and the bed to the wall under the ceiling beam, above, where I slept very well last night, thank you.

Still, anyone know where I can get some bamboo flutes?

About cara

I blog (for fun) here at casaCARA, and write (for money) about architecture, interiors, gardens and travel for many national magazines and websites.
This entry was posted in BROOKLYN, BROWNSTONE DECORATING, INTERIOR DESIGN and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Feng Shui Nightmare in a Brownstone Bedroom

  1. hamptontoes says:

    Decisions, decisions…right? I have the same bedding as you in a guest bedroom…love the stylish look of the pattern!

  2. Travelling lady says:

    I liked it on the other wall. All it needs to not look “lost” is some nice art hanging above. Oh well, you already moved it…

  3. MazeDancer says:

    Agree with Travelling lady looks wise. And bed in the niche “L” is way better feng shui because:

    – You can semi see see both “entrances” if not actual doors – or at least no sense of the “surprised from behind” factor which is why not seeing door is no-no. You can’t relax.

    – No energy from back door opening onto bed. Very not restful. Really not good feng shui.

    – Beam mostly avoided. If the beam hits feet, then get flutes. (at Amazon if needed) Or get bamboo – you may already have – paint red. Attach red tassle or ribbon. (Some people just use red ribbon) You need 4, one on each side of beam at 45 degree angle.

    Credenza will look fine once anchored with accessories. But avoid mirror reflecting bed.

    And bed in niche is almost making that area a bedroom. Giving entire other half of room chance to be a whole ‘nother space. Because you’ve separated the spaces it won’t be that also not good feng shui thing of doing work in the bedroom. Feng shui wise bedrooms are only for sleeping.

  4. cara says:

    Thanks, maze, knew you would weigh in on this topic;-) Was having trouble visualizing how these bamboo flutes and tassels are attached but just found a very clear illustration here

  5. katyallgeyer says:

    The problem with putting the bed in the niche is that it’s up against the wall on one side. It’s better with air circulating all around. If the bed has room to be centered in the niche, you may want to reconsider moving it back there. The credenza might even fit along the base of the bed instead of along the wall. I’m less concerned about the beam since it’s lengthwise instead of crossing your body, and, as you pointed out, it’s already painted white (white= metal and metal cuts the beam). Avoid using hokey visible feng shui cures such as bamboo flutes. They tend to make homes look like Chinese restaurants and that definitely will disturb your sleep if you care about good design! :)

  6. cara says:

    hi Katy, thanks for your input. In the niche, the bed has just a few, maybe 4 or 5 inches on either side, which is a problem in terms of night table/reading lamp. The credenza can’t go along the base of the bed, as it would block the opening of the back door leading to the garden (in either of its two possible positions, that would be the case). The other thing I didn’t mention in the blog post (it was quite long enough as it was;-) is that Cablevision is coming tomorrow to hook up my TV! It’s going to sit on the credenza in either position. So I sort of have to decide furniture placement by tomorrow, before the cable guy runs wires to the wrong part of the room, or cancel the appointment and mull it over further. And if I’m to move the furniture, I have to do that before he gets here, or ask him to help me and grease his palm accordingly. P.S. Just looked at your blog, which I will continue to do. I like your sensibilities (I almost did a post about that undiscovered street photographer, too!) I see in your top 10 tips that you advise against TVs in the bedroom. I have a ‘thing’ about TV in the living room; I know 99.9% of people have them there for social reasons, but I think it’s kind of vulgar. I like to use my living room for conversation, listening to music, reading… and the TV in the bedroom mostly for movies late at night. I’m also intrigued by what you say about the beam having less negative effect because it’s lengthwise, not crosswise over my body and it’s painted white so it “equals” metal. Well, this beam IS metal! I’m fairly certain it’s a steel I-beam, not a wood beam. Does that make a difference?

  7. Ellen says:


    See above for bamboo flutes too! It can’t be good to have the bed shoved along a wall. I have faith you will figure it out – you always do!

  8. Hi Cara,
    I’m sorry for the delay in responding to you. I didn’t sign up for email notifications so I didn’t see your questions until I came back to look at your blog today. Thanks for checking my blog out as well.

    I was assuming your beam was the wood element and in feng shui terms metal cuts wood (and white “equals” metal so that would have been a feng shui solution in itself). With the beam being metal and your later post about how oppressive the energy was, I am glad you moved the bed away from the beam.
    That really is the best solution.

    The reason for no TV’s in the bedroom is the electronic stimulus creates stimulating ch’i energy much like a mirror does. The less electrical gadgets you have in your sleeping area, the better for a restful night’s sleep. If it doesn’t bother you, no worries! IF you begin to develop sleep problems, throw something over it at night like a pretty textile to disarm the ch’i energy.

    Good luck!

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