When I moved out after a breakup earlier this year, feng shui consultant Suzanne Roynon offered to come for a session at my new flat. She’d previously given me some expert comments for articles on bedroom layout ideas, and she’d sent me her book, Welcome Home: How stuff makes or breaks your relationship. Having just lost one of the few constants of my twenties, I was at the start of a new chapter, and I was all ears.
Before she came over, I filled out an in-depth feng shui report, which involved answering various questions, such as, ‘Do you have adequate time and opportunity to nurture yourself?’ and ‘Are you satisfied with your financial situation?’.
I also sent Suzanne photos of all the rooms and the exterior, along with a hand-drawn floor plan and a compass reading. The day came, and having booked the afternoon off work, I shut my laptop and waited for the doorbell to ring.
I quickly learnt that feng shui isn’t just rearranging furniture and avoiding spiky-leaved plants. Neither is it simply about decluttering, although this is a good place to start. Literally translated as ‘wind and water,’ it’s based on the idea that human life flows with the environment around it.
Logical enough. This ancient Chinese practice aims to harness energy, harmonising us with our surroundings. The five key elements are wood, fire, metal, earth and water, and you can use a feng shui Bagua map to work out which areas of your home correspond to them.
Beginning to sound more woo-woo? Sure, but I think we could all use a hand in making our homes more supportive, happy and calm (according to Suzanne, the energy at 10 Downing Street is totally off).
9 things a feng shui consultant told me to do to my flat after a breakup
1. Get practical stuff sorted out first
Suzanne gave me far more practical help and general chivvying along than I had expected. It was like being visited by a very helpful, efficient, good-at-folding fairy godmother. For one, she fixed my wardrobe (no idea how she did it). At the time, I’d totally given up on any proper wardrobe storage ideas because the minute I got everything neatly folded, the shelves would tumble down.
She had come prepared to do a space-clearing ceremony with sage, having assumed I’d have my flat and my life a lot more ‘together’ than I did. But fixing my wardrobe and getting rid of anything that made me cry was the first step.
2. Get rid of unhelpful belongings
‘Tell me about those Marmite jars,’ says Suzanne, looking at my shelves. After writing an article about how vintage Bovril jars were trending on Etsy, I’d unwittingly ended up with a large collection of my own, in various shapes and sizes. ‘Why are you storing empty vessels?’ she asked. ‘That’s not going to promote abundance.’ She had a point.
I’d kept lots of moving boxes because they’re always a pain to buy, but keeping them felt like a barrier to fully settling into my new home and life. So I made my first-ever listing on Facebook Marketplace and they were gone the next day, freeing up cupboard space for my Christmas decorations. A few photos and cards from my ex-boyfriend still sit in a small storage box resting out of sight on the top of the fuse box for me to deal with at a later date.
3. Clear the clutter (then do it again)
I thought I packed light – I love a good declutter, and I’d recently done The Minimalists’ 30-day Minimalism Game. Somehow, my work still wasn’t done. We went through everything and cleared out two charity shop trips’ worth of clothes, books etc. Following Suzanne’s instructions, I headed straight to Oxfam first thing the next day so nothing could creep back into my wardrobe.
Some items it truly pained me to get rid of but was I really going to get around to using that giant roll of fabric within the next year? I was also holding onto a lot of emotional baggage. ‘Those, I wore on the worst day of my life,’ I said through tears, when Suzanne gestured to the jeans I wore when I moved out of our flat. Off they went.
‘It’s incredible the effect people’s things have on them,’ Suzanne muses as we sift through mountains of clothes. At this point, tired and regretting the third glass of wine the night before, I really wanted to see what her home looked like.
4. Store kitchen knives out of sight
‘I’m not a fan of weaponising the kitchen,’ Suzanne said, glancing at the breadknife sticking haphazardly out of a pot of utensils on the worktop. Fair enough.
5. Arrange the home to align with feng shui Bagua
I’ve put family photos by the door, as this is the Family area – or Bagua – of my flat. My monstera plant sits in the Wood area, a space that represents creativity and growth. This is also the area she recommended I sit in when working from home.
The space around my bed is the Knowledge Bagua, making it the perfect spot for some bookshelves. I’ve also taken to storing my suitcases and a basket where I keep my passport and any foreign currency in the corner that matches up with the Travel Bagua of the flat, welcoming in the opportunity for a long weekend in Paris. Fingers crossed!
6. Keep the toilet lid down
In the bathroom, which is both the Love and Fame area in my flat, Suzanne recommends I keep the toilet lid down so no positive energy can drain away.
7. Use feng shui remedies
My personal feng shui report showed that the flat needed a great deal of heavy metal to ground the energy (84kg to be precise). So I bought a lot of metal weights in the sale from Argos, and placed them around my home. I still need a bit more, but I’m getting there. What with the large pile in the bathroom, surprisingly few people have commented on them.
The south, centre, east and northeast area of the flat all needed metal, with air able to circulate around it. So no weights covered in plastic or rubber. Ideally, I’d have some moving metal too, like a clock with no plastic or glass covering the hands.
8. Make a shopping list
The last step was to order a few things from Amazon. First, a step ladder, which is something I’d never have bought myself. I’d have just thought, oh well, I can’t reach up there. She noticed some moths lurking in a cupboard so told me to buy some moth killer from the local DIY place. Another purchase I was thrilled about making.
I also ordered some ‘sticky stuff remover’ for removing labels off my MDF shelves and about a million clothes hangers. They were all practical, low-excitement purchases that you know are worth making. Some IKEA SKUBB storage boxes were probably the highlight.
9. Ask ‘Is this what you choose for yourself?’
Suzanne kept asking ‘Is this what you choose for yourself?’ Sure, my bathroom towels are mismatched and tired, but no one can afford to Marie Kondo their entire life. Little by little, though, we can. Similarly, there were winter jumpers and hats in my wardrobe that I thought looked perfectly fine, yet I could see Suzanne eyeing them up.
‘Does this look tired and bobbly to you?’ I asked, holding a nice & Other Stories mock neck jumper with an air of defeat. Off it went.
The afternoon with Suzanne was a lesson in taking care of myself. Things I wouldn’t have bothered to do for myself, Suzanne was here insisting that I do. Confession, I still haven’t ticked off some of the things she told me to do, like filling in a crack in the ceiling and painting over a watermark from a past leak.
But the message was, ‘This is your home. You’re worth the effort of making it lovely.’ We finished and went for dinner, and when I returned home, the flat felt lighter. I felt bunged up the day after, just as Suzanne had warned that I would. ‘There’s been a lot of energy displaced and moved around today,’ she’d said.
‘An unsupportive home impacts every part of your life, creating tension, stress, poor health and relationship challenges,’ says Suzanne’s website. With a blank slate, I was open to making my home more supportive, and while there’s still lots to do, I’ve made a space that’s mine, and that I love coming home to. Am I nailing every area of my life? Absolutely not, but I'm a whole lot happier.
I’ll never forget the raised eyebrow of Suzanne when I was justifying keeping a random bowl or plate. She also mentioned an intriguing ‘peach blossom’ remedy for when you’re ready for romance in your life, which needs to be removed as soon as you meet someone you want to be with.
‘I’ve had some clients ask to get rid of the peach blossom remedy because the amount of male attention they were getting was extreme,’ she said. Not sure I’m ready for that.
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Millie Hurst was Senior Content Editor at Ideal Home from 2020-2022, and is now Section Editor at Homes & Gardens. Before stepping into the world of interiors, she worked as a Senior SEO Editor for News UK in both London and New York. You can usually find her looking up trending terms and finding real-life budget makeovers our readers love. Millie came up with the website's daily dupes article which gives readers ways to curate a stylish home for less.
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