Kathleen Cox,
Vastu Living: Creating
a Home for the Soul

(Marlowe & Co., 2000)

A lot has been said in recent years about the ancient art of feng shui. According to those principles, where you put your stuff affects in what areas of your life you have harmony (or trouble, if you put the wrong stuff in the wrong spot). It's the new decorating buzzword for the new millenium, in fact.

Before there was feng shui, though, there was a more ancient art of placement. Started in India years before the first Chinese person ever moved a bed to increase his harmonious elements, Vastu was a way of making the man-made structures resonate in harmony with the surrounding earth, which, according to vastu tenets, makes the occupants and inhabitants feel more at ease and harmonious as well.

Kathleen Cox has written an amazing book on this ancient wisdom. It covers just about everything, from the basics of the Hindu faith (without which, the placement tips would seem meaningless and unnecessarily arcane), to the right places to put things, and how to fix problems that you didn't create yourself (such as the entrance door being in a bad direction, for example).

More than half the book is background information. This was fine for me, as this kind of thing fascinates me, but for some, it might get a little bit hard to follow. By the time she moves on to the actual precepts of the placement art, you're pretty much prepared to explain to anyone who asks about your sudden change in decor exactly why you're putting things where you are. It's nice to have that kind of thorough background information, but I have to admit -- it's pretty dry stuff for awhile.

The illustrations that are plentiful throughout the text are wonderful. Some of the concepts she describes would be incredibly hard to grasp without the illustrations and tables, and they were a fantastic inclusion.

If you're looking for a way to feel more comfortable in your home, check out Vastu Living. It'll be a departure for most people from conventional wisdom on decorating, but it raises a great deal of questions that anyone would benefit from answering about his or her home. (Does it reflect you? Without reflecting who lives there, a space is dead, according to Vastu.) If you can't find it in the home and garden section of your local bookstore, try the Asian studies section -- it's where I found my copy.

[ by Elizabeth Badurina ]
Rambles: 17 November 2001

Buy it from Amazon.com.