Vastu and feng shui for the ideal kitchen
If you’re someone who loves to make time for preparing delicious food, you probably consider your kitchen to be a creative and nurturing part of your home. This is where you spend precious hours making meals that will impact on your body, mind and emotions and those of every person you feed.
Whether your attitude to your kitchen is positive or not, the ancient architectural practices of vastu and feng shui stress that it’s one of the most important areas of your home and has a significant impact on you. Consequently, these practices place great importance on how your kitchen is designed and laid out — the colours, the lighting and which quadrant of your house it’s in.
No matter how small or deficient your kitchen may be, incorporating even just a few vastu or feng shui guidelines into your kitchen can turn it into a more harmonious space. Improving your kitchen not only makes it more conducive to preparing nurturing and nourishing food but also helps your entire home to become a more harmonious, nurturing place, whether you spend a lot of time in your kitchen or barely any.
In feng shui, your kitchen influences not just nourishment and therefore your health but also your prosperity.
According to Kathleen Cox, author of The Power of Vastu Living, if you live in the Southern Hemisphere, the best quadrant of your home for your kitchen is the northeast or east.
However, if you live in the Northern Hemisphere, she suggests having your kitchen in the southeast. In each hemisphere these quadrants are governed by the element of fire, which contains the power of purification, purifying not only the cook but also the food, and so helps to keep everyone in the family healthy.
(Note: the directions suggested in the rest of this article will apply to those living in the Southern Hemisphere.)
Maximising good energy in your kitchen is not just about your physical health. Vastu suggests that having your kitchen in the appropriate area of your house can also enhance the relationships of those who live there and reduce the likelihood of accidents occurring in your home.
In feng shui, the ideal place for the kitchen is in the back of your house, or at least behind centreline, so you don’t see it as soon as you enter the house. If it’s the first room you see it could have any of the following negative effects:
- May lead to digestive, nutritional and eating problems in the household members.
- May encourage guests who come over to eat and then leave immediately.
- May encourage inhabitants to eat all the time.
If your kitchen is in the front of your house, don’t panic. There are creative remedies to take care of this. You could hang sheer or beaded curtains over the kitchen door, install louvred doors at the entrance or divert people’s attention from the kitchen by having something eye-catching across a hall or in an entrance near the kitchen.
Doors and windows
Vastu suggests it’s best to have the windows of your kitchen in the east and northeast. The north is also fine, but minimise windows in the south or west.
Alternatively, you could have the big windows of the kitchen in the east, with the smaller ones towards the south. Anthony Ashworth, feng shui and vastu consultant, explains that this is so you can hold the positive energy of enlightenment that is generated in and comes from the north, the east and the northeast, and close off the relatively negative energy from the south, west and southwest.
Ashworth suggests neutral earth colours or white are best for your kitchen walls; he also encourages the use of red in the form of accessories (eg teatowels etc) in the kitchen. Including red is a good idea because red contains the element of fire, which is purifying and relates strongly to healthy digestion and good health generally. However, be aware that using too much red (such as in splashbacks and cabinets) can make the fire element in your kitchen too strong and cause the cook to become hot-tempered and fiery. Whatever you do, avoid bright colours that are overwhelming and dark colours that are cold and unfriendly.
If possible, vastu suggests you have your stove, clothes dryer and any other appliances that create intense heat in the southeast part of your kitchen. The southeast is the area that corresponds to the element of fire and to the Lord Agni (Lord of Fire), which makes it most suitable for these appliances. Vastu also suggests you prevent the stove from being visible from outside the kitchen as this could lead to digestion problems.
Contrary to the way many modern kitchens are built, with the stove facing a wall, feng shui places a lot of emphasis on the cook being in a commanding position: ie, able to see the doorway without having to turn away from the stove. If this is not possible in your kitchen you could rectify it by hanging something reflective, such as a mirror, over the stove to enable you to sense or see any movement happening behind you. A mirror splashback can do the job very well.
If possible, vastu suggests having your water appliances (including the sink, water filter, dishwasher and washing machine) in the northeastern sector of your kitchen, the area associated with the water element.
The best place for your refrigerator is in the southwest because this part of the kitchen is connected to the element of earth and the fridge is typically the heaviest and bulkiest appliance in your kitchen. This guideline can be applied to other bulky items, too, placing them in the south and west and positioning lightweight furniture in the north and east.
Your kitchen should have good access to natural light, preferably coming from the easterly direction. If you’re getting only minimal natural daylight through the windows, consider a skylight.
The toilet and your kitchen
It’s preferable to avoid having a toilet door that can be seen from the kitchen. The toilet is for waste and the kitchen is for food preparation and health; they simply do not mix. In commercial premises in Australia, building codes do not allow a toilet to lead directly to a kitchen, but somehow it was allowed in our homes. If you can’t avoid this, at the very least make sure the toilet door is kept closed at all times so it can’t be seen from the kitchen. Alternatively, find a creative way to define the boundary between your bathroom and kitchen. If your kitchen has an open entryway you could put up a screen, a tall plant or a bamboo curtain. Also, it’s best not to have a toilet adjoining the kitchen or above or below it.
“Clutter is your kitchen’s worst enemy,” says Cox, as it can become a big reason, whether you’re aware of it or not, to avoid being in your kitchen. To deal with clutter she suggests you start by getting rid of anything you don’t use or that looks like a haven for bacteria and then organise everything that’s left in a way that makes it all easy to find. This includes pots and pans as well as ingredients you use in your cooking, which, if hidden, will eventually become wasted food.
For example, you could arrange that similar foods be stored and displayed together, putting all the nuts and seeds together, baking goods together etc. A good vastu kitchen is clean, organised and clutter free so that when you get down to cooking there’s no possibility of being distracted by chaos.
Once you have arranged your kitchen you can then introduce nature into your kitchen décor. If your kitchen doesn’t get enough natural light, for example, you could include a decorative picture of the sun on the kitchen wall. If your home gets enough sunlight, grow herbs in your kitchen, such as marjoram, sage, basil, thyme, parsley and mint, or plant edible flowers such as geraniums, marigolds or nasturtiums.