Decorating with the Five Elements of Feng Shui by Tisha Morris was a very difficult book for me, mostly because I don't have a great sense of 'decorating'. My house reflects the life my husband and I share -- walk in and you'll have a very good sense of who we are. (From the unusual Amy Brown originals, serene McKnights, and vibrant Mangelson photos on the walls of the hall to the dog bed and shelf of pet accessories by the front door.) According to the ancient Oriental art of feng shui, our houses (including their physical position in the immediate local environment, their orientation to the cardinal points etc.) determines not only who we are as people but also the kind of life that we tend to lead.

Morris proposes that by understanding the way in which the five elements (Water, Wood, Fire, Earth, and Metal) of Chinese philosophy work we can greatly alter the whole course of our lives. These elements constitute the essential energy that animates both ourselves and our lives and embody either active yang or calm yin. She then offers three steps to making our home a place of balance. The three steps are, to put it most simplistically: purge that which no longer works; rearrange that which remains; and re-energize your space. (Technically the third step leads to the fourth, which is to refurnish the space.)

I found the writing eloquent and clear, and the way her process is explained made sense. what was troubling, however, was that a whole lot of 'extra' stuff was included, and I'm not sure that it was necessary. For example, why do I need to be told about Chinese astrology? More disconcerting was the lack of discussion about how to handle practical aspects of home life; things like children, or pets.

Overall, this was a good book and I'd recommend it, but there are others I might reach for first.

~review by Lisa Mc Sherry

Author: Tisha Morris
Llewellyn 2015
pp. 234, $16.99

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