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Feng Shui in the Year of the Tiger

By Sarah Van Arsdale on January 23, 2010

Feng Shui in the Year of the Tiger

When you're thinking of using the principles of Feng Shui in interior design, it's tempting to think it's all just about choosing a color that makes you feel good, clearing out the clutter, and making sure your bed doesn't face the bathroom.

But this ancient art of placement has many layers to it, and understanding Feng Shui deeply can take years of study and practice.

One element of Feng Shui that isn't talked about often is appropriate for the new year. The Chinese new year begins this year on February 14, and this year we'll be ushering in the Year of the Tiger.

You may know that each of the twelve years in the Chinese calendar is believed to carry with it certain traits, so that if you're born in, say, the year of the tiger, you're believed to be brave, competitive, and unpredictable (kind of like a tiger).

According to Jennifer Ellen Frank, NYIAD's Feng Shui Course Student Advisor, it's helpful to think of the qualities of a person who's born under the metal tiger sign in order to understand more about this coming year.

"When Metal is combined with lunar sign, it could produce a Tiger who is sudden, unorthodox and drastic in his actions. He is a person who is faithful only to himself & his desires, and doesn't mind stepping on a few toes along the way. Easily stirred by both good and bad influences, the metal tiger will tend to act independently as he hates having to get permission for anything or having his freedom curtailed in any way," Frank said.

The Tiger is the third sign in the Chinese zodiac, which is made up of twelve animal signs, and symbolizes courage.

Chinese calendar

"It plays a pivotal role in keeping away the three prime disturbances of a household which include fire, thieves and ghosts," Frank said. "At the same time, this year being at the Year of the Metal Tiger, it is being predicted that the Tiger would add the element of courage and the metal part would provide the necessary determination and resolve to achieve the goal that are set for the year. Moreover, the Chinese astrology has described the Year of the Tiger as 'tumultuous, hard working and vigorous year.'"

What may come as a surprise is that the year in the Chinese calendar can also help you to effectively design your home. As you may know, one of the things considered in Feng Shui are the five elements — wood, metal, fire, water, and air. This Year of the Tiger we're now entering is a "metal tiger" year, which predicts moods swinging and lots of vigorous hard work.

Since it's a "metal tiger" year, let's take a look at how metal works in Feng Shui. Perhaps the timing is perfect, as metal is a symbol of wealth, something we're all struggling with right now. It's also a symbol of protection —think swords.

When incorporating metal into your home decor, you don't have to paint your front door with gold leaf. You can use stainless steel, aluminum, iron, or any other metal — just make sure you're careful not to introduce sharp edges.

You also need to be careful not to over-use metal, but to use it in balance with the other elements. Think of how a sword can be either protective or dangerous — it's the same with using the metal element. The earth element supports, or balances, metal, and so to support a hard, cutting metal year, you may want to add earth elements to your home, by incorporating ceramics and earth colors.

One excellent way of incorporating metal is with the use of wind chimes, which not only bring in the element but also provide soothing musicality.

If you don't want to, or can't, bring in the element itself, you can bring its color into the room by using white and all metallic shades, such as gold, silver, and grey.

Chinese calendar

As with anything in home design, the metal you introduce must fit in nicely with the room's decor; you can't just put a metal box in the kitchen, or leave your weight-lifting plates on the sofa. Rather, you may need to do some research to find just the right accessory that will bring in the metal element without adversely affecting the balance of the elements in the room.

One source of metal often over-looked by today's designers is the ubiquitous electronic equipment that has a way of taking over our rooms. It's important to consider absolutely everything in a given room when looking for elements, including the computer, the television, the radio and the kitchen appliances. You may already have too much metal in a room such as the kitchen or study, without even knowing it.

The elements also each have their own shape. For metal, the shape is round, like the shape of a coin. So a coffee table that is made of steel and is round is doubly metal, whereas a square steel table will bring in the earth metal as well as the metal element.

Whether you were born in a previous Year of the Tiger or not, this is a good time to re-evaluate your home's Feng Shui, considering all the elements, but especially metal — this year's element.