In the third of her four-part series on designing a home for health and harmony, Nina Kati suggests Feng Shui styling tips for creating a calm and creative haven in the kitchen

Kitchens are the heart of the home and have the highest vibration in the house. They represent nourishment and activity and should be fresh, clean and bright. The kitchen is the room in which most accidents happen and where most rows take place, so hide away knives from view! The kitchen is often the most expensive room in the house, so a design issue can be costly to fix. The more time you devote to planning, the better the outcome. Start with the cooker/hob as this must be best positioned for the whole kitchen to work most effectively and for better family health and harmony. Begin by dividing the room into three areas:

  • The cooking station(s):
    • Hob and oven(s)
  • The food preparation area:
    • Sink and worktop space
  • Cold/dry food storage location(s):
    • Fridge/freezer and food larder

The cooker is the most important item in the room and as such should be sited in the most protected position, facing the best direction of the family members, particularly the breadwinner. Never site the cooker/hob and the sink opposite one another or there will be huge, sudden and uncontrollable rows between the occupants because fire and water conflict. Should a tap face the
cooker/hob, turn it away each time you use it to prevent rows in the house. Skylights in a kitchen are also not recommended and never locate a hob or sink in an island unit.

A cooker/hob should not be located too close to a window for fire safety reasons and because the nutrition and support of the whole household goes out the window or too close to a door which is hazardous as pots on the stove can be easily knocked over. The best form of cooking is the traditional wood burning range, followed by a gas hob and then electric. The flames ensure the nutrition is transferred from the food to the occupant’s organs through absorption.

A freestanding cooker is a good choice because it has control knobs for the hotplate at the front allowing it to be located to face a good direction for the occupants and in particular the breadwinner. When selecting a hob, try to ensure you choose one with knobs on a raised control panel at the front of the appliance so that it too can be located to face a good direction. All kitchen designs should adhere where possible to the ‘work triangle’ principle. In other words the relationship between the cooker, sink and fridge should form a triangle so that the kitchen functions well. There should be space either side of a cooker/hob for safety reasons and for ease of placing or removing items from the hotplate. Microwave ovens should be avoided or at least used minimally – food should nourish the occupants. Remember your health is your wealth. When selecting appliances, choose items that are ‘A’ rated for maximum energy efficiency and lower energy bills, and select the most reliable brands you can afford so that you minimise costs associated with repairs (the cost of parts and labour can often outweigh replacement costs) and to get the best life expectancy from the appliance. Your home should work for you rather than in reverse, so it is better to buy appliances that are self-cleaning or self-defrosting, freeing up quality time for you to spend with your family. When choosing dishwashers and extractor hoods, select appliances with the lowest decibels, i.e. 48DB is approximate conversation level so anything at this operating level or lower will allow you to chat with people without having to talk loudly over the noise of the appliance. The same applies to washing machines and tumble driers located in kitchens. It is best to designate one location to the storage of food such as a larder so that the contents can be easily viewed and accessed, which means less doubling up when shopping saving you money and inconvenience, and it is easier to see which products are running low at a glance. Regularly check items for ‘use by’ dates and labels for food items that should be refrigerated once open. Choose a larger fridge that will meet both the family’s needs as well as extra cold storage for when entertaining guests. Many brands now offer anti bacterial protection and controlled humidity which keeps the food fresher for longer, again saving you time and inconvenience. Use the power of visualization by placing an image of something you want (such as a new car or a holiday destination) on the front of the fridge so that every time you go to the fridge door, you are reminded of the item you want to bring into your life, and over the course of time it will come about.

The worktop can be one of the most expensive purchases in a kitchen, so it is worth investigating all the options available to you. Select the most durable which is heat, scratch and stain resistant and one which you won’t tire of over time. A good choice is natural stone or reconstituted stone. To save on costs, try mixing worktops such as using a wood worktop on an island unit and granite on the rest of the base units. Island units are very popular but should be chosen and sized with care. Although they can provide extra worktop space, storage and even a breakfast bar, they can impinge on the traffic flow in a kitchen and unless well designed, can leave diners with their back facing the door. Take into account the space required to open doors to storage units located under the island as well as the doors to the units surrounding it, and whether or not people are comfortable eating at a higher level. Frequently a peninsula functions better than an island unit, often creating a U shape which is one of the best kitchen designs, whilst providing extra storage and worktop as well as the possibility to incorporate a breakfast bar. Don’t forget to take your refuse needs into account. Bins should be concealed within the unit under the sink and compartmentalised for easier refuse and recycling requirements. A waste disposal unit fitted to the sink will save the time and inconvenience of dealing with the disposal of parings, teabags, coffee grounds, etc. Finally, read all the literature supplied with appliances to ensure you get the most from the features incorporated, tips and recipes, and adhere to the safe practices and instructions provided.

Feng shui is concerned with matching people to their homes and workplaces. Using a Chinese Lo Pan compass will determine vital information about a property and whether or not it suits the occupants. A home is then set up according to the unique needs of the occupants. The most important person in the home is the breadwinner, so the house must primarily suit them. A house with good feng shui will give a family:

  • Best opportunities and prospects, luck and destiny, and wealth
  • Best nutrition and health, longevity and strong descendants
  • Best rest and recuperation, peace and harmony
  • Best work efficiency, career opportunities and business prospects
  • Best study capabilities, ease of learning and good results

Nina Kati of Working Wonders is an interior designer, feng shui consultant and tutor. She specialises in combining feng shui with interior design to create balance and harmony. Nina trained under a Chinese master to learn authentic feng shui, which concerns the relationship between our homes and us, and is about matching people to their homes and workspaces. In 2009, she won the Businesswoman of the Year Award (South Tipperary). This year she celebrates 10 years in business. Her interior design and feng shui services range from an hour’s advice to one day services and from small schemes to full projects. She also runs interior design and feng shui workshops. Visit www.workingwonders.ie or contact T: 051 646273, M: 086 8126730