Feng Shui Or Not

Apparently it might be bad Feng Shui to have an office in a closet (because it might be blocking positive or creative energy). Tell that to someone who lives in a smallish (yet expensive) Manhattan apartment.
03/04/2013 07:05 pm ET Updated May 04, 2013

Apparently it might be bad Feng Shui to have an office in a closet (because it might be blocking positive or creative energy). Tell that to someone who lives in a smallish (yet expensive) Manhattan apartment.

At my place, there is a large walk in closet across the hall from the kitchen. It's really quite spacious. It's not a room, but it feels like one. With the door open, it looks directly out toward the kitchen and the double windows beyond. It's in sort of a hub area, where people come and go. Anyone walking down the hall walks by the closet-- I mean -- office. Anyone in the kitchen can chat with me while I'm sitting here. Sometimes that's a nuisance. Sometimes it's fine. It's my little work station. There are shelves with books, and inspiring quotes on the wall. Long ago I had painted one wall a very pretty indigo blue.

Alright, it's a closet. But, it's an open space when I leave the door open. I don't even turn on the light many times because I get enough light from the kitchen. There is a desk tucked into one area, and the other side holds a library of magazines. I do like being able to leave the space and shut the door so my work clutter is not visible when I am focusing on other things. Our duplex is generous in size, but there is not any other area where a hard working desk and all of the mess that comes with it, could really live well (without looking completely out of place).

Smaller spaces force you to streamline. Yes, it takes a little discipline. But so many folks have too much "stuff." At least twice a year, cleaning out (donating, giving away) the never used, broken, or mistake purchases really does free the mind and spirit. Sure, I'd like an extra room. I'd be a little more organized. Life gets messy. Work gets messy.

Is it symbolic that I tuck myself into this space? Is it necessarily a bad thing? Maybe it's my getaway space. It just needs a little cleaning up now and then. My resource library is on shelving in another area in the house. It works out just fine.

I also keep hardware stuff here, which works out because I'm the fix it lady in the house. I like to keep track of our light bulbs, special tape for painting, etc., wood filler, and the other repair goodies we all need in our homes.

Sometimes when my kids come home from school and they grab a snack in the kitchen, we chit chat across the hall as I sit at my desk. The closet is really in a perfect family hub location. I'd rather have it this way than being actually in the kitchen. This way, I'm close, but no one has to walk around me.

I never really need to bring clients to this office. Meetings take place on the job site. The dining room is a perfectly good meeting place if necessary. This desk is where the backstage thinking and resourcing and communicating takes place. My job notebooks are neatly arranged on a shelf above the desk. The space really does suit my purpose well for the moment.

Am I hiding in this closet? Am I blocking myself from the world in this closet? Perhaps if it was situated in some dark location at the end of a hall it would be less friendly. I could even take the door off and have the space open. Mostly I just leave the door open and that's that.

Many homes do not have closets this size. We are blessed with excellent storage areas throughout the house. We have another very large walk in closet, but smaller than this one. Most of our spaces multi task. Having been raised in New York, I embrace the concept I guess. Many people have more space than they really need. We could use a little more square footage. But 85 percent of the year, our world extends to the outdoors here in California, so we're not shut in.

In the course of my design work, I've been in sprawling homes measuring 14,000 sq. ft., 9,000 sq. ft., and others ranging from 2,500 sq. ft. to 4,000 sq. ft. I've also seen 1,000 sq. ft. work very well. Sure, it's nice to have ample space to accommodate family gatherings, parties, kids activities, even extended family. But I think the ideal square footage for a family of four is somewhere in the range of 2,500 sq. ft. Before you know it, the kids are gone and you've got plenty of house for two people. In a smaller home, high ceilings can often make up for less square footage. When designed well, less square footage is less cumbersome, easier to maintain, and uses less energy. Yes, I'm a big fan of architect and author Sarah Susanka -- and her original book The Not So Big House.

Although I may branch out to another office at some point elsewhere, I feel it is time to nurture what I do have. In this spot, with my computer, I can create anything I wish. My window to the world is up to me. Sometimes, in my line of sight out of the kitchen window, I see little birds fly by and hear them chirp. It's very sweet. There is plenty of air circulation especially when the fan is on in the kitchen. It's a fine little spot.

Although I do agree with many principles of Feng Shui, and some of those principles are present in this small area (like the window view, the blue wall, the location within the house), I'd rather praise what I have than wish for what I don't.