How can I rid my apartment of negative energy and replace it with positive?
February 23, 2012 1:02 AM   Subscribe

Recently moved apartment, and found that two of the rooms are filled with negative energy. Guests concur: when you're in these rooms, you'd rather be elsewhere. Therefore I'm looking for tried-and-tested home improvement tips to clear rooms of negative energy and fill it with positive. (I've looked into feng shui, but interested to know what specifically has worked for the community.) Thanks!
posted by scrm to Home & Garden (31 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
Is it the colour? Light? Can you change those? Lovely yellow or pink toned lightbulbs are nice.
posted by taff at 1:13 AM on February 23, 2012

Plants would be an obvious answer (and I think they're generally good feng shui). I draped a lot of scindapsus aureus around a place I used to live, which seemed good. It's robust and grows pretty well in poor light.
posted by Segundus at 1:23 AM on February 23, 2012 [4 favorites]

Try reading A Pattern Language --- it might help.

Here's a description from an Amazon reviewer: Alexander and his co-authors present us with over two hundred (roughly 250) "patterns" that they believe must be present in order for an environment to be pleasing, comfortable, or in their words, "alive." ... If you wonder about the best design for a home, the authors will describe everything from how roofs and walls should be built, down to how light should fall within the home, where your windows should be placed, and even the most pleasant variety of chairs in the home. An underlying theme of all the patterns is that architecture, at its best, can be used to foster meaningful human interaction, and the authors urge us to be aware of how the houses we build can help us balance needs for intimacy and privacy.
posted by Susan PG at 1:56 AM on February 23, 2012 [4 favorites]

Is there a window? If there are any heavy drapes/blinds blocking it, can you remove/open them? What about paint colors? If you're not allowed to paint, try a tapestry and/or lots of art. Similarly, if the carpet color stinks and you can't recarpet, try a rug. Perhaps a light, cheery air freshener scent might help make it a more positive environment.
posted by IndigoRain at 2:12 AM on February 23, 2012

I feel that dark, solid, heavy lines might be something to avoid in a room which feels somehow oppressive. So, the furnishings should be of lighter wood rather than dark, for example, and as much as possible, try to free up space and don't clutter up the room with furniture.

Colours! Orange and yellow are good colours for walls/accent walls, so if you pair that with some neutral furniture you will have a cheerful but non-overwhelming space.

Along the same lines, if you don't want to paint the walls, you can cheer them up with happy-making framed prints, or photos of people you love.

Do you own this place? Can you knock down the walls to create a larger space, or perhaps put a window in if it works structurally? Fresh air and a larger space for air to circulate could also help with the energy.

Some people believe that semi-precious stones carry healing properties. You could buy a few and keep them in attractive bowls to place in these rooms. Here is a starter list of gemstones and what qualities they are believed to have.
posted by Ziggy500 at 2:13 AM on February 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

The seating should be comfortable, should support your back and should be positioned such that people can't sneak up on you without you noticing, whether by coming through the door or standing outside the window. As many of the seats as possible should have a view of something interesting outside the room.

The seating should be arranged so people are within easy chatting range. If it's a big room, bring the seating away from the walls into a group in the middle. If it's a small room, remove or downsize some of the furniture to give an impression of more space.

There should be somewhere that people can put their glasses and mugs down within easy reach of where they are sitting.

There should be some form of focal point to look at. A fireplace or TV, or a big arrangement of plants, so everyone in the room can look at that instead of looking at one another all the time.
posted by emilyw at 2:15 AM on February 23, 2012

Bamboo charcoal is a good purifier.
posted by zachawry at 2:19 AM on February 23, 2012

It's hard to say without details, but there are a few common things worth mentioning that can make a room feel uncomfortable.
  • Poor light
  • Small space
  • Cramped space/poor circulation
Lighting issues can be fixed by more lights of course, painting to a more light-reflecting color, strategically placing mirrors where they'll pick up existing lighting, stuff like that. Incidentally, the more you can fill your lighting needs with natural light, the better.

Strategically placed mirrors can also help a small room feel bigger. You'd be surprised. Other than that, the best thing you can do for a small room is to not clutter it with stuff. Even a small room can feel bigger if you feel like you have some room to move around freely. The more open space you can achieve, the better.

This goes to the point of good flow, too. Try not to make your room arduous to get around. Simple, unbroken paths are a goal, particularly from the door. Try not to put things in the room that feel "in the way" from the standpoint of moving through the room.

Above all, iterate. Try things out, switch them up if they don't feel good, rinse, repeat. We live in a very small house, made up of uniformly small rooms, but we nevertheless really enjoy the space, because we've spent a lot of time making incremental improvements like these to make it feel bigger.
posted by Brak at 2:24 AM on February 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

If these other things don't work for you, have you considered turning it into an advantage? Architecture can be very powerful for psychology, and we all have places in our homes that we either
1) don't spend a lot of time, like a pantry or storage closet,
2) may not want to spend a lot of time in (trying to cut back on internet or TV time? Put those in the downer rooms!).
posted by whatzit at 3:01 AM on February 23, 2012 [3 favorites]

I would try placing small bowls of water around each room to see if you can find a source of vibration anywhere. If you can, that may be the source of the bad feelings and turning them into "downer rooms" might be the best strategy.

If you don't find any sources of vibration, then it's decorating time.
posted by tel3path at 3:08 AM on February 23, 2012 [2 favorites]

YMMV, but smudging with sage or cedar.
posted by knile at 3:23 AM on February 23, 2012 [9 favorites]

Too low or too high ceilings definitely will give people the creeps.
posted by gjc at 3:52 AM on February 23, 2012 [2 favorites]

I was wondering what the properties of the room are. Without knowing, it's hard to offer ideas. But one possible solution is to move everything out, and start decorating/furnishing them from scratch. If there are carpets, give them a good clean, etc. You can move the old furniture back in, but you don't have to. Make them into different rooms.
posted by carter at 4:00 AM on February 23, 2012

As an exercise, try getting out the bucket of soapy water and a very large sponge, and systematically wash down every square inch of the walls, top to bottom. Use low sudsing ammonia, and focus on getting every square inch and especially the corners. Wash the windows, wash the doors, wash the trim.

Then, starting in the corners, use a new broom and systematically sweep from the corners into the center of the room (even if it's carpet!) Get a dustpan, and lift the pile directly into a bag and carry it out. Do not sweep anything across a threshold, and do not "trap" anything in a vacuum cleaner until you have carried out the results of the first sweeping. After you have swept, either vacuum thoroughly (if carpet) or mop.

I find it helpful to have a very high wattage light bulb in a lamp without a shade while I'm doing this - I can see every bit of dust or dirt that way, and it "shines a light" on anything that might be lurking there.

After this ritual, then do the sage. You are now cleansed and purified, and you know it, because you have touched every inch of the room.

If a room can "touch" you psychologically, you have the means to touch it right back. Rent/house payments cost too much to surrender entire rooms to "bad vibrations."
posted by halfbuckaroo at 4:19 AM on February 23, 2012 [17 favorites]

Start with the practical - are those bad vibes actually people subconsciously picking up something that's wrong with the room? So I'd start by checking for damp, mould, dead mice under the floorboards etc.
posted by Coobeastie at 5:04 AM on February 23, 2012 [10 favorites]

You haven't described the room or colours etc so it's hard to address those factors - although I suspect these would be obvious to someone thinking through as many factors as possible about what's 'off' in your room.

So, something to address which is more subtle is smell. Fresh air is a must - a fan, a window open for a few days with a cross breeze if possible. I also like to put a few drops of vanilla essence on the light globes which, when turned on and warmed up, emit a cleansing smell. Deep-cleaning the carpet helps eradicated ingrained smells. Use a mix of methylated spirits and water on floorboards. Putting down clean bedding that has dried in the sunshine gives a wonderful feeling of outside freshness. Put a bag of lavender in the closet

Also, something which has helped in our house - bedhead should be on the northern wall, and not facing east/west.
posted by honey-barbara at 5:31 AM on February 23, 2012

Burn sage to cleanse the rooms, make sure to get up in the corners. Bring in lots of plants. Place lamps in dark corners. Bake cookies. If possible, ask your mom to come over and cook one of your childhood favorites. Have a party and fill the rooms with laughter.
posted by myselfasme at 6:01 AM on February 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

The 'negative feeling' of some rooms has been scientifically linked to a certain sound frequency that's detectable only on a subconscious level. Try disabling certain mechanical things in the rooms and see if anything changes.
posted by MangyCarface at 6:17 AM on February 23, 2012 [7 favorites]

Have sex in the room; it will forever change the way you look at that room.
posted by AugustWest at 6:27 AM on February 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'd be interested to see a cite for that, MangyCarface - sounds far-fetched but definitely interesting.
posted by cilantro at 6:38 AM on February 23, 2012

Photos might help..
posted by By The Grace of God at 6:50 AM on February 23, 2012

Sorry that came out too brief! Posting photos might help with re decorating ideas in thread, as well as info about preferred room use.

Nice smells such as incense, good music system .. add sensory stuff that contradicts the physical limits of the space.
posted by By The Grace of God at 6:52 AM on February 23, 2012

It would be helpful if you were a bit more specific about what you mean by "clear rooms of negative energy." Are you looking for decorating tips, or are you speaking metaphysically?
posted by MrMoonPie at 7:25 AM on February 23, 2012 [2 favorites]

I had a boyfriend who would sprinkle salt around the entire edges of the rooms of any new apartment he lived in (yes, I'm well aware I date funky hippy boys!). While I can't speak to whether it was effective or not, the act of actually making sure the salt was sprinkled around each room's edge made us slow down and be more aware of the room itself and what was going on in it. Oh, he did this *before* he moved in, so we were dealing with empty rooms. YMMV if there's already stuff in there.
posted by kuppajava at 8:18 AM on February 23, 2012

It might be worth half an hour of an electrician's time to test for bad grounding/shielding, and bad wiring at the light switches and overhead fixtures. When he takes off an outlet cover to check the ground, you can both look for mold or signs of water damage. All of those things can make a room feel bad.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:52 AM on February 23, 2012

cilantro, this is what i believe MangyCarface refers to.

i'm sure i first read about this on mefi some time ago, and that the explanation is that infrasound makes the eyeball resonate at a standing frequency but i've since googled in vain for that citation.
posted by Rube R. Nekker at 9:54 AM on February 23, 2012

When I was house-hunting in 2009, I noticed that by far the absolute "worst-feeling" homes and rooms were those that had grungy wall-to-wall carpeting in them. They were just suffocating and oppressive to be in, like the spatial embodiment of depression or something. And generally they smelled bad. Like how I'd imagine stale dementor farts to smell. Ugh.

If the rooms you're talking about are not carpeted obviously this doesn't apply, but if they are, either removing the carpet (and replacing with hardwood, bamboo, marmoleum, or whatever non-carpet material you can afford) or giving it a thorough steam-cleaning and perhaps laying down some colorful throw rugs might go great lengths toward helping remove the uck from those rooms.
posted by aecorwin at 10:38 AM on February 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

Set a black candle in a candle holder you don't mind discarding (when I did this years ago I fashioned a candle holder out of big ball of aluminum foil.) As you light it, say a few words regarding your intention. If you're poetic you can write a spell, but something along the lines of "as this candle burns, let it absorb all the negativity in this room to be disposed of harmlessly, Amen" is fine. You're just trying to get the energy of your intention going.

Let the candle burn all the way down. When it's all burned down and cool, stick it in a paper sack and discard it somewhere off your property (like a trashcan in a park or in a dumpster.)

Here's how I would proceed (well, these days I'd probably just see if our priest would bless it, but here's what I would have done at one time:)

Wash/clean the room as halfbuckaroo describes.

Burn the black candle and discard it.

Add elements to the room: a fan for air (and white noise to cover up any weird sounds;) a small aquarium for water (and in feng shui, the fish would also add "fire" because they contain the spark of life) or a tabletop fountain; a bunch of plants for earth; candles (represent fire, if you don't want fish or other animals in there.) Or use feng shui elements: I don't remember what they are, I believe there are five, wood & metal among them.

Then add other decorative touches to make it comfortable and homey.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 10:52 AM on February 23, 2012

Can you give more detail or post photos?
posted by 2soxy4mypuppet at 10:54 AM on February 23, 2012

Seconding Mangy Carface. Infrasonics are easily created in rooms with very simple relationships among the dimensions (like 8' x 8' x 16'). Certain places within these rooms will bug nearly anyone who has a sense of hearing. If you want to experiment with this (and if you do, in fact, have a room like that) prop a bunch of mattresses at one end and see whether things change.
posted by jet_silver at 8:56 PM on February 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

found that two of the rooms are filled with negative energy.

No such thing. But most people feel that a place is more cheery when it is brighter, warmer, and cleaner. Try to approximate the feeling you get on a picnic in a beautiful meadow on a beautiful blue-sky day.
  • Reduce clutter and dust.
  • Clean the place and make sure it's not damp and moldy.
  • Use bright sunlight colors (orange, yellow, gold) and white. Get rid of muddy colors and black holes.
  • Maximize natural light. Dump the heavy curtains and shades. Get full spectrum lighting for night or just use candles. Depending on window and wall arrangement, you might be able to use a big mirror or two to reflect natural light around the room and make the place appear larger and brighter.
  • If it's a room for flopping in, add comfortable seating (couches, easy chairs, bean bag chairs, etc.) that lets people sink into relaxed positions in the sunlight. If it's a room for sitting up and eating in, however, make sure they can sit upright and put their food and drink on a solid surface.
  • Look about the place and imagine what it would be like if you added or removed certain things. What if you took the door right off the hinges and put it into storage, and left the doorway wide open or added some sort of beaded curtain? What if you got rid of something you currently think has to stay where it is, such as a big old book shelf or table that could go to another room? What if you disguised or hid a major room feature with a cloth covering or a standing screen?

posted by pracowity at 12:53 AM on February 24, 2012 [4 favorites]

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