Estate agents across the land will tell their own bemused tale of how a crazy Aunty Beryl derailed their best sale of the month. The floral clad family member stomps around what was due to become the new family home, faster than you can tear up the commission cheque, spouting “It has a bad aura”, “I could feel the presence of George V, “there was no flow”, “it is just all wrong, and where would you have put your wardrobes.”
Whilst nothing outside of a good old exorcism will help convince Aunty B that a deceased king doesn’t haunt this brand-new house, there are certain aspects of her ramblings that shouldn’t be ignored.
A house needs to make sense to a buyer. So when Mr and Mrs Customer walk through the front door, they need to feel welcomed, at peace, and start envisaging themselves living there, that they will be comfortable in the property, and memories can be made, their memories.
Unlike the used housing market, the prospect of arriving through the front door and being hooked by an aroma of freshly brewed coffee or bread baking in the oven is unlikely on a building site, but there is still a lot that can be done.
Presentation. It needs to be clean, free of detritus, swept thoroughly. Ventilated. Let the property breathe from all the dust from the construction works clogging the air. Light. Illuminate darker rooms that don’t get much natural light. Aroma. If drainage works have been ongoing, perhaps a spray of an air freshener wouldn’t go amiss. Personalisation. Go big and have a personalised letter or sales brochure ready for prospective clients. Punctual. Oh, and be there on time to greet them, better yet be early. Show that they matter and are your highest priority.
That sets the scene. A clean, tidy, bright, fresh property to be seen and presented by a timeous representative. But how can we get the buyers to feel at home, start mentally placing furniture, and imagining Saturday night in front of the TV with a curry?
Would the principles of ancient cultural practices like Feng Shui and Vastu Shastra help our modern-day sales pursuits?
What is Feng Shui and Vastu Shastra?
Feng Shui is the Chinese culture that dates back to 4000BC. It’s the theory of using energy and its forces to harmonise individuals and surroundings. Its literal translation means wind-water and aims to align invisible forces, known as qi. Qi (pronounced “chee”) are movable positive or negative life forces.
Originally, Feng Shui was used to determine the ideal placement of gravesites, tombs etc. However, and slightly less dark, its modern interpretation is used in architecture to orientate buildings, rooms and furniture to encourage positive feelings.
- Water (North), Fire (South), Wood (East and Southeast), Metal (West and Northwest), Earth (Southwest and Northeast)
- An appealing entrance
- Soothing Colours
- Natural elements – plants and flowers
- Fresh air
- Use of crystals
- Placement beds and desks towards doorways
Vastu Shastra is a historical Hindu tool for architecture. Translating to ‘Science of Architecture.’ It embodies traditional Buddhist beliefs, intended to align architecture and nature through the design, layout, arrangement, ground preparation and measurements.
In a similar way to Feng Shui, Vastu Shastra focuses on eliminating negativity and promoting positivity.
- Right-angled plots – squares or rectangular plots, houses and rooms bring prosperity and happiness to the house
- Main entrance to face North, East or North-East
- Meditation room
- Room orientation
- Centre point of the house – spotless and clutter-free
- Buddha statues to be utilised
- Kitchen – hob and sink should be placed well apart.
- Water feature or aquarium
- Add a natural element – plants
- Placement of mirrors
- Make use of air and light
- Place bed and desk towards doorways. Avoid sleeping in sharp corners
- Make use of crystals
How do we utilise these philosophies?
Considered by some as nothing more than superstitions, earlier, we looked at presenting a property to a prospective buyer. Through good practice, without realising it, we are following some of Feng Shui and Vastu Shastra principles, such as ensuring that the property is clean, clutter-free, presentable, light and has fresh air.
Vastu Shastra is best encapsulated at the design stage before the construction commences. Whilst this is true for Feng Shui, too, Feng Shui can also be used at home at any time.
Each principal aims to promote well-being through the flow of energy, harmonising the spaces that we live in.
For example, front doors are crucial to making a good impression, attracting positive energy to your home. Therefore, they should be clutter-free and clean.
The orientation of the front door and the property may be out of our control and dictated by planning and land limitations. Still, many factors can be controlled, in conjunction with the design team, from room layouts, flow through the property, glazing and lightness.
Is there a sensible approach?
Having considered flow, space, light, room layouts, the positioning of fixtures and fittings, kitchens and sanitaryware can all improve the usability of a property.
If it feels usable, a buyer is going to feel more at home. “I want the bed over there, but the light switch is on the other side of the room, and there’s no plug for a lamp.”
Any design team, usually lead by a Design Manager, Development Manager, or Project Manager, should produce a federated design package with the Architect, Engineer and Mechanical Electrical and Plumbing Designer, ensuring they work together, overlaying one against the other to avoid clashes.
The concept of open space and light don’t work if a structural column drops down in the middle of a room or a soil vent pipe protrudes from a wall where the sofa is intended to go.
Equally, that bedroom recess behind the door fails to work as the intended wardrobe space when there’s a radiator plonked right in the middle of it.
Thought into electrical fittings is vitally important. For example, avoid light switches behind open doors, don’t overlook electrical sockets at bedsides, and place the TV ariel and sockets on the wrong wall.
Ensuring symmetry. A series of stacked switches on either side of a short wall run need to align as one, not just each side aligning individually. Thus, resulting in switches at different levels with different distances to the respective door frames.
A window on a side elevation that’s divided and been rendered useless by the staircase that runs across it.
Should you follow Feng Shui and Vastu Shastra?
It’s certainly worth having an understanding of the concepts. However, much of what they share is common sense which can be encapsulated at the design stage by a proficient and well-managed design team, a conscientious Site Manager and the Sales Rep who puts in the extra yards.
Next time Aunty B visits, she might even want one for herself!