How to Feng Shui Your Desk

How to Feng Shui Your Desk

Using the Chinese art of arrangement for less stress and optimal success.

So it’s a new year. You’ve pledged to be healthy, to be nicer, to drink less wine (ha), but how about at work? A raise? Maybe a promotion? As much as you can go above and beyond at the office, let’s face it: sometimes we could all use a little help from, let’s say, alternative powers. Enter: feng shui, the ancient Chinese system of arrangement that is said to bring peace, health, and prosperity to one’s life. Read: if you get your feng shui in check, the rest will follow. And if not, let’s be real, we could all use a little bit of decluttering to begin 2017 on the right foot (or with our office succulent in the right place, as it were). It’s time to cleanse, kids.

In order to get our “qi” in check, we turned to Jennifer A. Emmer, feng shui master, interior designer, and founder of Feng Shui Style, to give us the rundown on the history, the technique, and finding your “Gua.”


The basics:

“Originating in China almost 6,000 years ago, feng shui literally means ‘wind’ (feng) and ‘water’ (shui). It is an ancient method of constructing and optimizing residences and businesses to bring about happiness, abundance, and harmony. It includes architecture, urban planning, interior design, and garden design.”


The benefits:

“Some of the benefits you can look forward to after a feng shui consultation are: an increase in wealth, great health and vitality, a new career or business, a new or improved relationship, a strong family dynamic, finding your purpose, peace, cleansing energy that doesnt feel right, activating creativity, and much more!”


Why you should feng shui your workplace:

“Having good feng shui in your workplace will make you feel balanced, supported, and powerful, and, very often, happy! It can also prime you for a promotion, a raise, or even an entirely new career. Tailoring your feng shui to your ‘Gua’ number can give you an incredibly dialed-in solution to maximizing your working environment.”


Water = Success

Pump up’ the career sector (north) of your office or desk by adding the colors blue, black, or the element water. You could also add symbols of water, such as a blue glass paperweight, or a pattern with wavy lines, or images of water, such as a lake, river, or the ocean. The single best way for anyone to pump up their career sector would be to add circulating water in the form of a fountain, in the north sector of their office, or the northern portion of their desk. This would keep the qi (energy) moving in the career area, in addition to bringing in the correct element.”


How to organize your desk:

“When choosing what to put in a section of your desk, refer to the table below. Think of the symbolism of things, so, if the element of the northeast is ‘earth,’ you could place an agate paperweight there, because agate comes from the earth. If the west is ‘metal,’ you could place your silver letter opener there. You can also place objects that are any of the colors mentioned for each sector.”

The best (and worst) plants for your qi:

“Plants allow us to bring the outside in, and feel more connected with the world around us. They introduce organic shapes into a space and balance out all the straight lines that usually appear inside. Plants represent the wood element. You should choose ones with rounded leaves rather than those with spikes or thorns. Never bring a cactus inside, as the spines are considered ‘poison arrows’ in feng shui. They would be more suitable in the south side of your yard, as the spines represent fire. Succulents are fine inside, as long as they don’t have spiky leaves.

“If you’d like to display a plant on your desk, place it on the east (family and health sector) or southeast (wealth sector) side of your desk. This is because these sectors benefit from the wood element.”


These are the best plants to put on your desk:



“Everyone knows about ‘lucky bamboo,’ which is actually a dracaena, not technically bamboo. It’s a great choice, as it’s easy to grow and wonderful to give as a gift. Place dracaenas in the east (family and health) or southeast (wealth) of your room or home, for vigorous growth in these areas.”


Jade plant:

“The jade plant is a type of evergreen with thick branches. The leaves are round, shiny, smooth, and a rich jade green, which is probably why they’re referred to as a ‘money plant.’ They are a popular good-luck charm in Asia, and the color represents growth and renewal. Jade plants are easy to propagate and they should be placed near an entrance, as a welcome sign, or in the southeast corner, to stimulate abundance. They can also be placed in the east for family harmony and good health.”


Peace Lily:

“Peace lilies remove many harmful pathogens from the air. They have delicate white flowers, and a supportive, peaceful feeling to them. They’re easy to care for, and excellent in office situations.”



“The pothos purifies the air beautifully and lends itself well to propagation. It grows prolifically, and the heart-shaped leaves are delightful. The pothos is suitable for absolute beginners.”


Potted orchids:

“Orchids are graceful, elegant plants, and fairly easy to care for unless you overwater them. Always test the dirt in your plants with your finger to see how dry they are before watering. They really only need a small amount of water once a week. Orchids release oxygen at night, so they are excellent in a bedroom. To stimulate your love life, buy two of them, and put them in the southwest corner of your bedroom. Many people give up on orchids after they bloom, but with proper care and fertilizer, they will re-bloom. In fact, when an orchid re-blooms it’s sort of a feng shui barometer: the better feng shui you have, the more likely the orchid is to re-bloom.”


Rubber Plant:

“Rubber plants are especially auspicious when placed in the southeast (wealth) corner of your home because the round leaves suggest good fortune, abundance, and wealth. They like bright, indirect light, but dislike heat, so southern exposure would probably be too hot. Be sure to do the ‘finger test’ for dryness before watering. The plant’s water needs to fluctuate throughout the year.”


Split-leaf philodendron:

“A personal favorite of mine, the split-leaf philodendron has leaves that remind me of Swiss cheese. They’re funky, organic, and gorgeous. They like a good dose of water once a week. I use them as a design element.”

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