Open storage might be causing you bad luck – here's why Feng Shui experts advise against it

We might have to reconsider our storage habits

Green painted living room with shelving cabinet unit with artwork displayed
(Image credit: Future PLC)

Open shelving has risen in popularity in record time as one of the biggest 'it' trends to employ in a home for both its functionality as well as aesthetics. However, did you know that they might actually be attracting negative energy to your living space and are a huge no-no in the realm of Feng Shui?

Recently, no debate's been bigger than the one surrounding open shelving vs wall cabinets. While the main topic of discussion is primarily one's choice of storage options in a kitchen, open shelving is something that isn't exclusive to just a cooking space. Whether it be living room shelving or shelves in a bedroom, open shelving is no longer just a storage solution but rather a chance to 'shelvescape' and display all of your favourite things, bringing character and cohesion to a room.

Even then, despite what the latest storage trends might be highlighting, Feng Shui experts will be the first to tell you to steer clear of open shelving where possible, favouring alternative storage solutions instead.

White painted wall with dark wood finished shelving, artwork and decorative items displayed

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Why Feng Shui experts advise against open shelving

When speaking to us at Ideal Home, we asked architect and Feng Shui expert Cliff Tan what popular home decor trend is 'bad Feng Shui' and to our surprise, he revealed, 'Open shelves. You see them on Instagram and they're nice, aesthetic things and people put their beautiful items on top, but this is not really a lifestyle.'

'They look nice and great in photos, but when you have shelves they collect dust and clutter, we dump things on top, we forget things are there,' he continues. 'And, in Feng Shui terms, these shelves are like very aggressive blades that are 'slicing' you, so they're not the best thing to have.'

Cliff Tan
Cliff Tan

Cliff Tan is an architect, published author and Feng Shui practitioner. He started Dear Modern, a practice and social media platform aimed at educating and sharing the principles of Feng Shui with a wider audience. Born in Singapore, he moved to the United Kingdom in 2010 and graduated from the Architectural Association, School of Architecture in London. He is most widely known for his ability to plan and optimise awkward spaces using the principles of Feng Shui.

Green living room with industrial shelving and artwork

(Image credit: Future PLC)

In short, open shelving is bad vibes as far as Feng Shui is concerned no matter how good kitchens without wall cabinets look, they don't do you any favours if you're trying to improve Feng Shui in your home.

Feng Shui consultant, Lorraine Lewis further explains that in Feng Shui, positive energy should flow freely, especially considering Feng Shui is the ancient art of arranging our spaces to attract happiness, harmony, and well-being whilst deflecting and neutralising anything that could cause disharmony or stress to the mind or body. She notes that 'there are several disruptors to this flow, and open shelving is one to be aware of'.

Lorraine Lewis
Lorraine Lewis

Lorraine Lewis is a feng shui consultant and teacher with over 30 years of experience. She spent four years training in the practice of both Traditional Chinese Feng Shui (Compass) and Intuitive and Black Hat Feng Shui. She is also trained in Space Clearing, Nine Star Ki (Feng Shui astrology) and Geopathic Stress (earth energies). Lorraine combines the ancient theory with the needs of modern living and work spaces to deliver feng shui consultancy that is relevant, timely and supportive of people's lives today.

If you're keen on a little more reasoning behind open shelving being a Feng Shui no-no, here's what the experts say.

1. They're dust magnets

'Exposed surfaces and items displayed on shelving are dust magnets,' explains Lorraine. 'Dust is stuck energy which disrupts progress and promotes stagnancy in the lives of those occupying the space.'

So, unless you're 100% on the ball with dusting your home as per your Sunday reset routine, this is something to keep in mind.

Fitted kitchen with a wall of storage shelves and dark grey units

(Image credit: Future PLC)

2. Sharp edges disguised as negative energy

Just as we've covered in our rundown of interior trends that are bad Feng Shui, furnishings that are low-hanging or have sharp edges which directly point to where you sit or sleep should be kept to a minimum where possible.

'These sharp edges direct negative energy toward anyone using the space,' says Lorraine. 'Think about how you feel if a person is pointing a finger directly at you. Most people find this uncomfortable and challenging – and we instinctively flinch away from this sensation, even if we can't see it.'

Therefore, Lorraine warns that trying to relax and spend time in line with this negative energy will disrupt your natural ability to rest, relax, focus, or be creative.

White painted kitchen with black kitchen cupboards, open shelving displaying orange Le Creuset cookware

(Image credit: Future PLC/Adelina Illiev)

What can you do?

Of course, the easiest course of action is to simply keep your storage hidden behind curtains, cabinet doors, or even in drawers. This will provide a protective barrier between you and the sharp energy projected by the shelves.

However, if you're stuck with them (or simply aren't willing to let them go because they're your personal interiors taste, we hear you), rest assured that there are ways to employ open shelving without fear of these warnings.

'Open shelves on walls where no one lingers directly under them is generally best, such as in a hallway or along a wall that people walk past in the room,' assures Feng Shui practitioner, Zoe Vita James for Open Space Concepts.

Zoe Vita James
Zoë Vita James

Zoë Vita James is a classically trained Feng Shui practitioner and associate of the IFSA UK Chapter who, from her background in banking and science, brings precision, empathy and an appreciation for beauty to her work with Open Space Concepts.

Reading area with retro armchair and open shelving

(Image credit: Future PLC/Katie Lee)

'Having said that, it is totally fine if the shelves are floor to ceiling, such as a library wall, with a reading chair in front,' she adds (bookshelf wealth endorsers, rejoice). This is because shelves arranged as so create a 'wall' which Zoe assures helps give energetic support to your back, providing you strength. This is quite similar to where to position an outdoor corner sofa for Feng Shui.

As a general rule of thumb, try to avoid shelving being directly over your head. Zoe urges you to check how the positioning of open shelves (or even wall-hung kitchen cabinets, for example) interacts with other furniture in the room.

'Check where the sharp corners of shelves are pointing towards and adjust your furniture arrangement accordingly, so you are not sitting in the trajectory of the 'arrow' of the corner. Or better still, choose shelves with rounded corners.'

Living room with built in shelving and decorative furnishings, large pink L-shaped sofa

(Image credit: Future PLC)

If your open shelving intends to display things in true clustering fashion, Cliff advises simply displaying them nicely on a console instead. Or, if you find your walls are too empty, hang a picture or a mirror.

'That's enough,' he assures. 'You don't have to go through the process of mounting a shelf, curating it, cleaning it every few weeks, and making sure you don't put any clutter on top – it's too much trouble. You can curate things on display, but it shouldn't be everything.'

Having said all this, it's got us contemplating our own storage decisions now. Maybe this is the unknown cause of all the restlessness that's ensued since the beginning of the year, after all.

Jullia Joson
Junior Writer

Jullia Joson is Ideal Home’s Junior Writer. She’s always loved all things homes and interiors, graduating with a bachelor's degree in Architectural Studies from the University of Nottingham in 2022. Previously, she was an Intern Editor for ArchDaily. Now focused on news stories, Jullia can be found down the TikTok and Pinterest rabbit hole scrolling through any new and upcoming trends, hacks, and home inspiration.