Wabi-Sabi House | House Profiles | Hudson Valley | Chronogram Magazine

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The Four-Animal Format
The Sayreses paid over the asking price for their place—there was a bidding war—because it provided a great foundation for Michele's artistry, rich with obvious and esoteric attributes.

There are different schools of thought on feng shui. The two most common are classic feng shui, which uses compass directions to analyze the situation, and Black Hat, a simplified Western version that uses the entry door as the basis of analysis.

"I initially studied Black Hat, but tired of its superstitious rules," says Michele. "Black Hat uses a lot of red as 'cures'—not the best word, really, but you often see that mentioned in general-audience feng shui articles."

The siting of the house on the lot is in keeping with what is known in Classic/Compass feng shui as the preferred "four animal format."

"Imagine sitting in an armchair. The back of the chair is the Black Turtle, providing support and protection. The arms on the side of the chair, considered the Green Dragon and White Tiger, are also supportive and protective but lower, so that one's peripheral vision is not impaired. The open space in front, called the Red Phoenix, allows energy, or qi, to flow freely toward the house," says Michele.

"This house is sited on the lot with a hill at the back, lower hills on the sides, and a sweeping lawn in front of a wall of south-facing windows, which bring in healthful sunlight. There are minimal openings on the cold north side. Wappinger Creek flows toward the house, symbolically bringing prosperity. The movement of the water is considered yang (masculine, active), which balances out the quiet, yin (feminine, still) nature of the property as a whole. There's the ever-present sound of flowing water," she adds.

"Even the slope of the vaulted ceiling enhances the good feng shui, as it's highest on the open south side and lowest on the north, allowing maximum qi to be collected in the house."

According to Michele, intention plays a vital role in positive feng shui—a powerful and useful tool—plus every situation and client is unique.

"Common blanket statements such as 'Feng shui condemns the use of king-size beds' are very strong and could create a negative attitude. I have a friend who loved her apartment, considered it a sanctuary. She hired a feng shui consultant who told her that the spiral staircase connecting the two levels was horrible and she should remove it or move. She was unable to do either, and now every time she enters the apartment, she has a feeling of discomfort," says Michele. "What was formerly her sanctuary is now a negative experience."

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