Seating Arrangements that Facilitate Communication

Seating Arrangements that Facilitate Communication
Seating Arrangements that Facilitate Communication

Monday, June 20, 2016

Moving Into Summer

Communication is the focus to facilitate good Feng Shui as we move from Spring (the Wood Element) into Summer (the Fire Element.) This is a great time to ensure that seating arrangements throughout your home aid in pleasant interaction between inhabitants, as well as when entertaining guests. Whether it’s the Living Room, Family Room, Dining Room, or Outdoor Entertaining spaces, your furniture should facilitate good conversation.

The Living Room:
Since this is most often the first room beyond the main entrance to a home, the living room is the first impression of you that your guests who arrive at your door receive.

If you are considering painting your walls, consider hues of blue, green, crème, yellow, muted orange or earth tones of beige, tan or even brown. If you utilize earth tones, be sure to enliven the space with a variety of shapes, textures and finishes to provide interest. Professor Lin Yun Rinpoche said in his book, Living Color (ISBN 1-56836-014-2) that “The living room should be full of many colors, shades and patterns.”

Seating arrangements are an important means of facilitating conversation. L shaped couches are so popular today, but, like a very long bench or couch (see left) do not really facilitate a good conversation. Make certain that everyone in the room can make eye contact with one another when seated in your living room. A good rule of thumb is to make sure that people, when seated are no more than 12 feet apart. Any more than that creates a distance that can cause people to disengage with one another. Below are some examples of classic furniture arrangements:
• The “circular” shaped arrangement on the left facilitates lively and diverse communication.
• The “U” and “L” shaped drawings work best when there is more limited space or furniture.

The Family Room
This less-formal room is reserved for family activities, although it can be organized in a similar fashion to the arrangements above. This room usually has more casual furniture, with practical comfort being a primary focus. (Consider microfiber or leather for durability and low maintenance if purchasing new pieces of furniture for this room.) Pictures and accessories that evoke memories of happy times and family vacations are a wonderful addition to this room. Try to utilize extra storage with doors (or baskets) that hide any possible clutter of games, toys or reading materials. Great colors for this room are blue, green, warm pastels, brown, beige and multiple colors.

The Dining Room
Blues, greens, and colors seen in nature are the best colors to utilize when dining. Professor Lin Yun Rinpoche said in his book, Living Color (ISBN 1-56836-014-2) to avoid black, white or a mixture of black and white. These colors are less conducive to digestion and the enjoyable consumption of a meal. Research shows that red stimulates one’s appetite, so avoid using it if you struggle with being overweight.

Using the dining table as your desk can make you feel detached from your family, so avoid this.

Outdoor Entertaining:
You truly can set up your deck or patio space as if it’s a room- just an extension of your home. Divide larger spaces into varied areas: 1) dining at an outdoor table, a living area with modular outdoor seating, and/or 3) food preparation including a refrigerator, barbeque, and countertop. Hanging “window” coverings (using outdoor fabric) in a pergola or covered porch gives the sensation of separating spaces, as can a “wall” of taller plants/hedge, but arranging furniture to divide up the space can also work.

Try this!
Move 27 pieces of furniture/plants/decor in your home today. Maybe you could do this because you are cleaning, and you move it back when you're done, or maybe just lift it up and set it down again. See if the energy doesn't change with this simple feng shui technique. 

In conclusion:
So, get out there and make some improvements to facilitate better communication in your home. Once you’ve made some positive changes, start noticing other good things that seem to magically occur in your life and of other family members. If you need assistance, give me a call or send me an email- I’d love to help you improve your home’s Feng Shui. 
Receive an initial consultation at your home or office for just $225, a $300 value. Book your appointment on/before July 1, 2016. Contact Shelley Nordlund at or call/text (253) 973-8438 to set an appointment. Appointments must be made by July 8, 2016. Offer valid for new clients only. No solicitations, please. Travel fee may apply for beyond 30 mile radius of Seattle.

Monday, June 13, 2016

French Country Design: Warm and Welcoming

French Country design style has a rustic appeal while maintaining old world sophistication, as its characteristics are drawn from the natural world of the French countryside.  It has two sides, sort of a Yin and Yang of décor: it can be stately and refined when you’re decorating a grand estate, or comfy and soothing when decorating a country cottage.  

Comfy & cozy French Country style
Stately and grand French Country Style

Even though French Country can result in vastly different looks, there are common characteristics that make it a design style people return to again and again.




Architectural Selections:

Natural materials, such as stone, wood, plaster, and brick play a very important role in French Country design.  Floors can be wood or natural stone, often covered with wool or cotton rugs for warmth and comfort under foot.  Walls can be plastered or faux finished to look like plaster.  Although ceilings often feature real or faux wood beams, my Feng Shui training could not recommend this particular choice.  Windows tend to be tall and narrow, with more deeply cut window sills than today’s standard windows.  Differences in texture and color are key to this look.  If you select dark wood floors and faux finished plastered walls, then you might consider soft fabric window treatments in a contrasting color and some curves to the furniture lines.


French country decor reflects the hues of the countryside. Think green hills, stone buildings and structures, lavender fields and vineyards.  Those who haven’t had the opportunity to travel to France can think of Napa Valley.  Look for inspiration from lavender fields, outdoor stone, rustic buildings and the sun. Focus on warm colors like yellows and oranges. 

Bring in the outdoors by mixing these hues with deep wood tones.  White or grey painted furniture can also play its role in French Country décor.


Toile (pronounced twäl) is a popular French Country textile, depicting serene, rural scenes.  It is printed in a single color on a solid background, often on heavy linen fabric or wallpaper.  

For those who spent hours in recent years removing wallpaper from their home, the new trend gives some beautiful options that you can see in several of these photographs, as well as the picture below.  

Checks, stripes and plaids are also often used in French Country design.


A rustic look, with aged peeling paint and rusty metals make furniture look as though it’s a family heirloom when designing for a French Country décor.  Curved lines that are delicate and graceful embody both the more formal look for Estates as well as for comfy cottages.

Free-standing Furniture

A French country kitchen features armoires and hutches in the kitchen to store dishes, silverware, serving dishes, linens and sometimes even food.  Although built-in cabinets are standard and considered as imperative to a well-functioning kitchen as are state-of-the-art appliances, leave some space for these free standing pieces to create the look of French Country.  Armoires are also traditionally used in bedrooms (including hanging rods) and living rooms as well.

Regal and Refined 

Cozy and Comfy


Botanical prints are often featured in French Country Décor, as are old iron chandeliers, copper pots & pans, large woven or wire baskets, old books and bunches of lavender or wheat serve as wonderful accessories to complete this style.  
Traditional French Country products and motifs include roosters, olives, sunflowers, grapes, lavender, and beetles.  Lastly add fresh flowers everywhere, whether they’re in clear glass vases, old pitchers or copper pots.

Adding some of the ideas I’ve shared will bring you much joy and a real sense of charm to your home.  If you'd like more information, or some personal design expertise, please contact me at  Let me know your ideas and comments as well as questions you might have about French Country style, and please follow me (above, right hand column of this blog) for the latest home improvements.  C'est bon!

Monday, June 6, 2016

Rustic Modern Design Style

Think about living in a pristine forest of tall trees but placing it only a few miles from a bustling city with all its cultural events, sports events and amenities.  That’s what Rustic Modern design style is all about.  It’s not about the froufrou of Shabby Chic, or even the overuse of elk, deer or bear accents surrounding an overstuffed leather couch with fringe tassels and plaid.  Instead, it’s about finding a retreat in nature where you can have all the amenities of modern convenience and style while honoring nature in all its of simplicity... and glory. 

Rustic Setting
Find a place you find serenity, whether it’s in the woods, nestled in the mountains, or beside your favorite fishing hole.  Then the transition from outside in will be that much more seamless.
Photo credit: Pixabay

Photo credit: Pixabay

Photo credit: Pixabay

Wood and Stone
Bring nature inside by preserving that old stone wall or reusing the old wood in a barn sliding door if you’re remodeling. If you’re building new, then consider adding stone for your fireplace, wood or rustic porcelain tile floors that reflect nature in their coloration, or placing beams in your open beam ceiling.  This is probably the most important aspect of the Rustic Modern design style.
Photo credit: Pixabay

Open Floor Plan
Just like the clearing where you could pitch your tent to spend a summer night in the forest, open floor plans really help to create a unified space, whether its the kitchen, dining room or gathering space.

This is going to be the focal point of any space, so make certain that’s it’s somewhat substantial in size and made of natural materials. Just like a camping experience isn’t complete without a campfire, it will make the entire space seem cozier.

Take in the View!
Another way to bring nature into your home is with big windows.  Feature the views: If the backside of your home faces the hillside, but the front has a view of the landscape, be sure to put big windows to take advantage of the view.  A modern home is always full of natural light, and the view will lower your blood pressure while bringing that rustic feeling into your home.
Photo credit: Pixabay

Photo credit: Pixabay

Neutral Color Palette
While one could say that nature has amazing colors to share with us, rustic style uses more neutral tones- think sand, the bark and the heartwood (or sapwood) of a newly cut tree, stone, and soil.  Part of the reason we often see lighter colored (neutral) walls in a Rustic Modern home is that it’s a needed respite from the darker and heavier tones of the wood and stone we’ve used. You can add color that reflects nature in accessories, placed sparingly and judiciously.
Photo credit: Pixabay

Photo credit: Pixabay

Photo credit: Pixabay

Modern Furniture and Conveniences
Keep your furniture, linens and rugs clean in lines, yet comfortable.  Fewer curves and embellishments is generally the goal.   Texture is the important element to consider when selecting various pieces of your furniture: leather, solid color fabrics, cow hide, tweeds, linen, wood, non reflective metals all could be a part of this palette. 
Your kitchen is probably the biggest user of amenities that will make life practical and comfortable: while you should select wood cabinets that aren’t too dark to feature their wood grain (AND avoid painted cabinets), you want to keep your newest features on your refrigerator, cooktop, and oven so you can comfortably prepare meals for your family and guests.

In conclusion
Although rustic style in its most traditional sense might appear dark and unsophisticated by today’s standards, Rustic Modern has appeared over the recent years that feels grounded yet light, fresh and authentic.
If this design style appeals to you like it does to me, then let’s get started on your home.  It’s true that some elements that I’ve described probably can’t be executed in your home, concentrate your efforts on renovating and creating what you can do to compose the Rustic Modern space that will make your heart sing.

What are your questions or comments on Rustic Modern?  If you want or need help selecting, designing or remodeling your home, please contact me at and we'll set up an initial consultation....and please follow this blog for the latest home improvements!

Thanks, Susan & Eric for your inspiration to write this blog entry.

Monday, May 30, 2016

What's Hot in Cooking

Are you considering changing your cooktop and/or oven sometime soon?  I had the opportunity to attend sessions at the Dwell magazine/Monogram classes held recently in Seattle. I know in my home, we cook regularly (probably 90% of the time) and I’d love to have a cooktop and oven that made it: 
  • easier, 
  • better tasting, and 
  • better for me 
than our current traditional radiant oven and cooktop.  Below are some choices for your consideration when you start thinking about your choices on the market.

Induction Cooking:
Do you yearn for the ease and fast-paced heating of electric (radiant) cook tops but also want the temperature control to be more responsive? If your favorite TV cook has made you long for gas, but tearing up the kitchen to put in gas lines isn’t in your plans, then consider induction cooking, which uses electromagnetism to heat the food in the cookware itself.  You’ll find it:
  • provides an extremely fast boil, 50% faster than gas or electric. 
  • heats food faster and therefore saves energy,
  • uses 90% of the energy produced compared to only 55% for a gas burner and 65% for traditional electric burners. 
  • more powerful, and heats hotter and faster than gas or electric. (A typical induction cooktop is 84 percent efficient, while a gas range is only 40 percent efficient, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.)
  • cooks evenly,
  • reduces heat in the kitchen,
  • safe, as you can’t burn yourself on the cooktop, & pots stay mostly cool while cooking,
  • many models turn themselves off if you leave it on accidentally.
  • easier to clean, because you aren’t cleaning up spills that have burned on the stovetop.
    Photo credit:

    Photo Credit:

    Photo credit:

The one negative is that induction cookware must be made of a magnetic-based material, such as cast iron or magnetic stainless steel. Fully clad cookware brands, such as All-Clad Stainless, Le Creuset Stainless Steel and Mauviel M'cooks stainless work on induction cooktops because they're magnetic. Cast Iron cookware also works on induction, like Le Creuset Signature Cast Iron.

Convection Cooking:
A convection oven circulates hot air with a fan. Unlike conventional radiant ovens, convection ovens have a fan that continuously circulates air through the oven cavity. When hot air is blowing onto food, as opposed to merely surrounding it, the food tends to cook more quickly. A convection oven deals with problems of hot spots or uneven cooking, because the circulating air keeps the temperature more steady.  You can therefore reduce the heat by about 25 degrees on most of your treasured recipes.  It does take a 240 volt outlet, so an electrician would need to deal with that portion of the change. They are known to be less effective with baked goods, as they tend to dry the food because of the air movement around the food being prepared.  Most convection ovens allow you to turn the fan on or off, however making it a good choice for your home.

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Cookies on the left are unevenly baked
in a conventional oven.

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Steam Cooking:
Although steam cooking is a growing trend in today’s market, the science of steam cooking has been around for centuries.  The first recorded use of steam cooking was in Ancient China where cooks would place reed baskets over water-filled hot woks. 
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The French invented pressure cookers in the 1950s which became a convenient way to prepare meat and vegetables.
In recent years restaurants use steam cooking to prepare food quickly and keep it warm until serving time. Several residential appliance brands produce steam ovens so you can have access to this technology in your home.
When the oven is turned on, the heat turns water into steam. Many steam ovens have a removable reservoir that needs to be refilled when you use the oven, and changed from time to time. Some high-end models are connected to a water line. The oven has a valve to release pressure of the steam similarly to a pressure cooker or a tea kettle. It uses natural convection adding flavor with heat, liquid, or air, without having to resort to butter or oil.
Steam cooking is the healthiest form of cooking, retaining more nutrients than other forms of cooking so that your produce tastes better and is healthier.
You can cook, bake, roast, grill, steam, defrost, and warm leftovers making these ovens some of the most versatile appliances in the industry.  

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Photo credit:

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Manufacturers claim that you could theoretically cook fish on one rack and muffins on another rack and your muffins will not taste like fish!
Steaming works well for delicate foods, and many people also use steam to cook vegetables, fish, meats, and add moisture back into leftovers, something that a convection oven or microwave won’t do. Steam ovens are the easier appliances to clean because food splatters and spills will never cook onto the oven surface. After you are finished cooking you should just wipe down the inside of the oven. Any spills should come off really easily.  On the negative side, there are installation requirements for steam ovens, steam oven tend to have smaller cavities, and they don’t brown foods as well as other means of cooking, which can make some food less appetizing in appearance.
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In conclusion:

Combination ovens are currently on the market that will allow you to combine  steam, use induction and microwave foods simultaneously.  Coming up in the near future: cooktops undefined by element rings! 
What are your questions or comments on cooktops and ovens?  If you want or need help selecting, designing or remodeling your kitchen, please contact me at and we'll set up an initial consultation....and please follow this blog for the latest home improvements!