Do you ever feel that your house or apartment might be lacking a certain something that prevents it from feeling like the home of your dreams? You may have what seems like an ideal space, tasteful furnishings you've spent months or even years carefully collecting, and a layout that invites myriad possibilities for creating that wonderful sense of comfort and character we all want for our homes. How can we take what is good and make it even better?

The ancient Chinese art of feng shui, a practice which brings prosperity and good health through enabling the flow of chi, which is the energy or life force that runs through everything, can benefit anyone interested in home improvement. According to feng shui, certain factors, such as proper arrangement of furniture, placement of other items in the home, great lighting, and ample air, balance this chi in a given space. If you would like to invite more good things into your life while beautifying your home, read through the following principles and easy steps towards creating harmony in your home.

1. De-clutter!

Chances are, you've already got everything you would need to create the perfect space for you, and then some, if we're being honest. If you're not there right now, take a moment to visualize your living room. Are there things in there that are collecting dust, like a magazine rack full of dated issues, a mantle strewn with odd trinkets and old photos you've grown weary of glancing at, or toys the kids no longer play with? If the prospect of de-cluttering your living room creates any sense of resistance, this is a sure sign that it needs to be addressed, promptly. Feng shui also works very nicely as a decorating idea for small apartment.

According to feng shui enthusiast Debbie Bowie, "The energy of places where you spend the most time have the most impact on your energy. Clutter clearing shifts the energies of those spaces from negative to positive. Positive energy results in positive interactions with others, positive experiences, and optimal productivity." This first step towards creating harmony and balance in your living room simply cannot be skipped - if you are only able to utilize one of feng shui's many teqhniques, let it be this one!

Letting go can be an emotional process, so be easy on yourself and take it day by day. Set aside five minutes this evening and commit to clearing at least a few unnecessary items from your living room; this will begin your process, and allow you to ease in without getting overwhelmed. Once you see how good it feels to balance the chi in your living room by getting rid of the clutter, chances are, you won't be able to stop. The positive effects will be immediate. If during the process you realize you also have a ton of cleaning to do you can consult this list of tips.

2. Understanding the Feng Shui Bagua

It is said in feng shui that whatever is happening in your home will mirror what is happening in your life, and this is why it's so important to get both in order! The bagua is a tool used for mapping out any area or room, and it is very simple to use. Stand at the main entrance of your living room and hold the bagua map in front of you, so that you are physically in the region of 'career', with 'fame' opposite you on the far wall. The right wall is for children, or descendants, while the left is for family, and in the centre of any room is health.

The corner immediately to your right is for 'helpful people', the far right corner against the opposite wall is for romantic love, the far left corner is for wealth, and the right corner closest to you is 'knowledge'.

At this point in your feng shui journey, it is enough to know what these areas and corners represent, and to be sure that each space, especially the one you really want to focus on, is completely free of obstacles, junk, and any other unwanted items. One of the most important principles in utilizing the practice of feng shui to enhance your well-being is to set intentions. ask yourself, "what are mine?" Let these new ideas sink in and begin to resonate with the hopes and goals you already have regarding these aspects of your life, and welcome a deepening of your awareness of the principles of good energy to create your feng shui living room. Think about the bagua map in relation to this space, and envision which items, furniture, or colors will help you feel more enthusiastic about merging your most cherished dreams with your dream house.

3. Add Some Green!

Now you know that feng shui is all about allowing good energy to flow, consider one of the greatest sources of positive energy on our planet: plants! Because the living room is the family's centre for a variety of activities, energy in this room must contain a good balance of calm and active energy. Plants are the perfect accent to create vibrant yet grounded chi that welcomes all household members, as well as guests, to relax or have fun, whatever the occasion calls for, in an environment that simulates the natural world, which is soft and flowing.

The best places for plants are in the corners, where energy is said to stagnate, and the correct time to introduce a new plant, according to feng shui, is at the beginning of the year or month, so plan to buy your newest additions accordingly. Choose resilient plants that will thrive in the particular area you place them. For instance, the heart-shaped leaves of a philodendron grow under all types of light, and can add 'fire' to a cold corner. If you are concerned about air quality, palm or ficus trees will clear various toxic substances from the air and carpet. The traditional plant associated with luck in feng shui has been the bamboo, which is very easy to care for, and when placed in the correct pot, can balance all five elements of earth, water, fire, metal, and wood. However, any feathery or broad-leaved houseplant that appeals to your own intuitive sensibilities can work beautifully. Just be sure to avoid cactus plants in the living room, as their pointy needles can interfere with the peaceful atmosphere.

4. Create great lighting

The ultimate key to introducing good feng shui in your living room involves the lighting. Light, both natural and artificial, is absolutely vital to bringing good chi into the home, as it is the strongest manifestation of energy. Even a sparsely furnished room can be transformed into a place of pure harmony and relaxation with the correct lighting. That being said, this is an aspect where many homes go wrong. The worst offence is having the only source of light be a single, all-purpose fixture at the ceiling, which either produces a glare rather than a glow, creating starkness, or is too dim, which can result in energy which is damp, or yin; in any case, neither are conducive to a pleasant environment. If this is all you have at the moment, try an experiment: grab a lamp from anywhere else in your house, and light it up for a few moments in a central area of your living room. Observe just how much this small addition affects the atmosphere! The comfort provided by lamp light is unparalleled, and elemental to enhancing the enjoyment of your living room.

The benefit of hiring an interior lighting designer is that many are versed in the basics of Feng Shui, and if you're already hiring a decorator you may want to ask them if they are. One effective technique is to spread three table lamps across the living room on side tables, to create a "triangle of light" for optimum balance. To bounce light off the ceiling, brighten dark corners, and fill the living room with the perfect glow, another option is the torchiere, or floor lamp, with dimmers. Intelligent lighting allows for adjustment according to what is happening in the living room, depending on whether it would feel more appropriate to activate energy with a stronger setting, or tone it down to induce relaxation. As a final note, be sure to use halogen, LED, or full-spectrum bulbs in your lighting system, as these offer the healthiest hues.

5. Enjoy the Process

Now that you have versed yourself in the basics of feng shui, get ready to ride a tide of accelerated growth towards abundance in all areas of your life! Keep in mind that feng shui is a process, and improvements can be made in increments, so begin by devoting a little bit of time every day for new adjustments. The most powerful force in the world is love, and as long as you take the time to notice and appreciate what is already wonderful about your unique living room, and begin by infusing it with an initial burst of love, you are already well on the path of feng shui harmony. Have fun with it, and may the chi be with you!