Richmond House- Lighting Makeover

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We read the book “Feng Shui Step by Step: How to Arrange Your Home for Health and Happiness Paperback” by T. Raphael Simons and hired a local Feng Shui consultant, Bonnie Primm. We learned that feng shui is actually much more complicated than we originally imagined. We needed to provide Bonnie with our respective birth dates as well as the direction that the house faced and the floor plan, in advance of our session.

During Bonnie’s visit, we utilized the “Bagua,” or energy map seen here, to interpret the floor plan of the house. The wall that contains the main entrance, as you can see, is on the bottom of the diagram. In our house, the entrance lies on the left side of the front façade, which is the “wisdom, self-knowledge and rest” sector.

Feng Shui Classes at One Eleven Gallery & Studios

When: Wednesdays in June, 6:30pm
WhereOne Eleven Gallery & Studios, 111 Pennsylvania Avenue, Norfolk, Virginia
Cost: $15/class, and $50 for all 4.
RSVP: Contact:  Bonnie Primm, 757-652-7993

Bonnie Primm, Certified Feng Shui, teacher and columunist is offering a series of classes to prove Albert Einstein’s quote:

“Everything is energy and that’s all there is to it. Match the frequency of the reality you want and you cannot help but get that reality.  It can be no other way. This is not philosophy.  This is physics.” (feng shui).

Even if you have attended other classes, read books or watched films on the subject….the repetition always brings more understanding and meaning to how you live your life – Well!   Along the way, we always see life differently with every experience.

Class 1
Why Feng Shui – What is it and How Can I Use It!
Finding balance and harmony in our physical spaces – whether it is our home or our workplaces. 5 Elements of Feng Shui, Yin and Yang and the 9 areas to define and impact our lives.

Class 2
How Feng Shui Principles Support Us…Practical Methods to Use Everyday.
Where do I place my bed, what is the best place to work or NOT at home and how can I get my life pumped and supported by using color that I am comfortable with.

Class 3
You ARE Feng Shui – Personally.
In the 9 Star Ki – and Eastern astrology, we represent 1 if not 3 of the 5 elements…what does that mean and what are your personality dynamics with others (families, friends, etc.)

Class 4
We can CURE just about every NON-feng shui area of your life.
9 Cures! Most are as easy as being aware and setting an intention….but we use some interesting objects and symbols as well…they help!

See you on Wednesdays in June.

Clearing clutter clears the mind

By Victoria Hecht
Virginian-Pilot correspondent

The holidays came and went, and with them, so did your resolve to get organized in the new year.

And let’s not mention all those magazines you hoarded for advice on how to de-clutter your home. Now they’re just part of those nagging piles, aren’t they?

Don’t worry. It happens.

But it’s not too late to take control. And there’s no better season to do this than winter, when you’re stuck inside – or maybe enjoying a snow day from work – surrounded by oh-so-much stuff.

Tackle the clutter now, and it will pay immediate dividends – in time saved searching for household items, among other things, says feng shui consultant Bonnie Primm of Norfolk. Feng shui is the ancient Chinese art of positioning objects, including buildings and furniture, based on yin and yang and the flow of chi, which can have positive or negative effects depending on placement.

“Clutter around you is clutter in you,” Primm says. “It takes space in your mind as well as your energy.”

We turned to Primm as well as local professional organizers Katherine Crawley, Connie Keller and Nancy Watson for room-by-room tips on sweeping out the bad stuff to welcome the good: a more efficient home and, with it, less time tending to things. Here’s what they said:


A clean and clear entry isn’t just welcoming; it also sets the tone for your home and provides an identifiable boundary for visitors.

“Whether you have a real foyer or not, what happens is that when the door is opened into your space, people need to be grounded,” Primm says.

Just inside, you need a table, a lamp and a mirror to create a landing spot that’s suited for last-minute primping, she advises. If you don’t have a true foyer, and the front door opens directly into the living space, try carving out a welcoming area with separate flooring. It’ll save wear and tear on rugs and carpets and establish a boundary to guests.

“Your home is a sacred space,” Primm says. “Somehow, you must define the area you walk into.”

And that definition, the organizers said, should not include a “disaster area.” Yet that’s what many entries become with errant backpacks, shoes, coats, sports equipment and other day-to-day items.

Start by addressing the coat closet, says Watson of Virginia Beach-based Harmony at Home Organizing LLC, who specializes in working with those with obsessive-compulsive disorder, attention deficit disorder and others “overwhelmed by too much stuff that it negatively impacts their lives.”

The coldest season, Watson says, is prime time “to get rid of the excess winter wear to help those who can really use it. Sharing this clothing is a gift.”

For a de-cluttering effort to be successful, everyone in the home must be on board with maintaining it – starting at the front door, says Crawley, of AssistPro Professional Organizing in Hampton.

“You want to establish what’s going to work for your family – for example, hanging up your coat so it’s where it belongs,” she says.

If sports equipment is a problem, and you have no closet for it, get an armoire or wardrobe for that purpose. And don’t forget the mail, which frequently piles up near the front door.

“You’d be surprised at how many people have difficulty dealing with incoming mail,” Crawley says. “I’ve had people have their utilities turned off because of it, because they didn’t go through it. You need a routine.”

Her suggestion: On Sundays, when no mail is delivered, go through it all at once, dealing with each item. Pay bills, throw out or recycle the junk and clip the coupons.

“You’re talking about 15 minutes to deal with it,” she says.

More tips from the experts: Consider hooks and pegs, either inside a closet or in the foyer itself, for coats and backpacks; a basket or rack for shoes; and baskets or bins for hats, scarves and gloves.

Don’t forget a designated spot by the front door – a tray by the lamp, perhaps – where keys should stay.

Adds Keller, with Organized Ways in Newport News, “If you’re lucky enough to have a wide entry space, there are ideas on Pinterest for building cubbies to hold everything.”

As for backpacks, she thinks they belong in kids’ rooms.


This is where the family gathers to let it all hang out and, because of its multiple purposes – TV watching, reading, napping, listening to music, gaming and playroom – this is where clutter mounts.

It’s not unusual to find a tangle of books and magazines, blankets, pillows, multiple remote controls, video-gaming equipment, toys and the random dirty dish.

Crawley advocates a divide-and-conquer method.

“We’re not going to have everything thrown together,” she says.

Specifically, she addresses shelving. Each shelf should have its own purpose: books, movies, CDs or toys. It also makes sense, she says, to have lower shelves designated for children’s easier access.

One component of de-cluttering the living/family room is recognizing what doesn’t go there and returning those possessions to their proper places. A laundry basket comes in handy to collect those items and make a room-by-room return trip, the experts say.

While de-cluttering this room, purge stacks of old magazines, corral remote controls in a basket on the coffee table and go through books – really go through books, says Keller, a retired librarian who admits that things can get out of hand for those with a passion for the printed word.

She found a solution that made her comfortable: She gives away books to a woman who, in turn, sells them and donates the money to a church. The method frees up space in Keller’s home and helps a good cause.

Magazines can be donated to doctors’ offices, senior centers and schools, Watson suggests.

Toys can quickly take over a house, so give each child a bag and instruct him or her to put in two items a week for giveaway.

“Typical American kids have so many toys they don’t know what to do with them,” Keller says.

She advises against saving items for yard sales.

It all boils down to this: “How much of your life’s energy do you want to give up to things just to take care of them? Life is too short to be owned by your possessions.”


So many trouble spots, so little time. The cabinets, the pantry, the refrigerator and freezer, the junk drawer, the space under the sink, the message center – where to start?

Watson knows.

Dig deep in your cabinets and take out everything in the back.

“There’s a reason it’s in the back; it’s never used,” she says.

Pitch it after you’ve fished it out.

Next stop: the junk drawer.

“Do not bring home straws, plastic spoons, napkins and sauces from Wendy’s,” Watson admonishes. “How many of those things do you really need?”

In fact, you need less in the kitchen than you realize, especially gadgets designed for one – and only one – purpose.

More suggestions from the experts: Match lids and containers, and toss anything that doesn’t have a mate. Go through food cabinets and the fridge, discarding expired items and things you bought on a whim but that your family won’t eat. Clean out utensil drawers, sorting and organizing as you go, and eliminate items you use infrequently or have multiples of.

Get down and dirty under the sink, weeding out duplicate cleaning supplies or ones that don’t do the job well. Allot a space, perhaps on a garage shelf, for infrequently used cleaning products.

Finally, ruthlessly address the message center, which may be a desk or a counter that’s become the collection spot for bills, coupons to be clipped, photos, recipes clipped from magazines and newspapers, schoolwork – you name it.

Ask yourself, “Do I need every picture my child has colored or that coupon for the free window-replacement estimate I keep meaning to get?”

“The big challenge is paper,” Keller says, “which can take on a life of its own.”

Don’t look to slapping it all on the refrigerator with magnets. That’s just moving clutter.

“Every piece of paper should be filed and labeled and not in a big pile, no matter how ‘organized’ the pile,” Primm says. “Clutter will take away your energy and the good that can be done.”


As a professional organizer, Crawley has seen it many times: people unwilling to part with beauty products they don’t like because they spent money on them.

“If you’re not going to use that curling iron, bless someone else with it,” she says.

One client had so many hair products, and her bathroom surfaces were so cluttered, that Crawley told the woman not to purchase any more.

“You just have to get rid of the products you won’t use,” Crawley says. “Just let it go. Stick to the things you like.”

The linen closet is prime territory for paring down, according to Watson, and winter is a great time to do so.

If towels and blankets “are old and ratty, donate them to an animal shelter or vet’s office, and send the good stuff to Goodwill,” Watson says.

Once you’ve weeded out the old linens, take everything else out, wipe down the shelves and return items one by one, she says.


When working with new clients, Crawley first asks them, “What’s going to give you the greatest satisfaction, the best refuge?” she said. “For more people, that’s the bedroom.”

And yet, that’s where people typically “hide” their messes and take a slack approach to housekeeping, letting piles of clothes, shoes and papers accumulate.

“Think about it: It’s where you go to rest, and you can’t when you have a lot of disorder,” Crawley says.

Start with clearing the floor, especially around the bed, then the dresser and, if you have time, consider the closet.

Start with what’s visible for the greatest mental return.

“You open your eyes first thing and see disorganization. Who wants to start the day like that?” she asks.

Take a minimalist approach to the nightstand – a glass or bottle of water, a small lamp and something pleasant to read, Crawley says. And never put bills or papers for work there.

“That’s going to cause you stress,” she says. “Put it in another room.”

The experts recommend looking at stuff not in terms of material possessions or monetary cost but in ways that are more valuable than that.

“Life is too short to spend your time moving around stuff that isn’t important,” Keller says. “Your time is a priority – precious and limited. You have to ask, ‘Which is more important, me or stuff?'”


Victoria Hecht, victoriahecht1@gmail.com

Consider balance, care when pondering feng shui in a garden

By Kathy Van Mullekom
(Newport News, Va.) Daily Press

Is your garden calling out to you to do something and you are not sure what to do first?

Feng shui practitioner Bonnie Primm of Norfolk, Va., has some simple solutions.

“We all need to start with what we have and some idea of what we want because time and money and the largest piece – energy – will always prevail,” she said.

Here are some everyday garden feng shui tips from Primm that can be your guide:

1. Begin with balance. Balancing your planting scheme begins with the back of the planting area where you plant higher (yang) than the next layer and again with the third layer in front until you reach three tiers descending in height to lowest (yin) – 3 is a magic number for balance in feng shui. This concept applies when you use property lines as the visual focus; if you plant in spaces away from the property lines, the tallest plants will be in the center – but not too tall or you risk good proportion. Vegetable gardens are done the same way. Mix even more – high/low, open/tight and light/dark within the planting.

2. Incorporate texture. There is also yin and yang in texture. Use open, longer stems, such as Shasta daisies that create motion when the wind caresses them. Descend your plantings with seasonal flowers or perennials where the flower heads are more condensed with each layer until you reach rounder, close-flowering plants that group together.

Rocks, garden sculptures, patios, benches, pergolas, gazebos and swings all add visual interest and find their balance within the softness of plants and flowers.

“We love gardens because we find the balance we want to feel within ourselves in the creations of our outdoor spaces and gardens,” Primm said. “The ‘hard’ sculptures are yang to the flowers’ yin.”

3. Mindfully use color. If you have ample room for your gardens, consider either themes of brilliant color or mixes of color. Multicolor plants “fill in” space as you look at them because all the colors radiate a vibration and take up more visual space (yang). If you have little room for plants, consider softer color flowers and plants (yin) – such as shades of whites and greens. A yin garden is ideal for meditation.

Colors such as red (yang) give off the great vibrations, followed by yellows and oranges and even whites. Blues and purples and softer colors such as peach, pale yellow and mauve are more yin and “quiet.”

4. Work with topography. The rise and fall of land itself is yin (low) and yang (high). To keep your home from looking like it was dropped on a piece of land, add berms – soil stacked to a soft or hard tier or terrace – so the space is broken and the eye rests somewhere. Subtracting soil offers the same effect. Bring in large rocks and group them together to offer a feeling of safety and stability – especially if you live on a corner property – to the home and gardens.

“Remember round and low is yin and high and straight is yang,” Primm said. “Finding balance in your garden creates balance in your life.”

5. Plan for proportion. You’ve probably seen too many shrubs and trees on too little land and just the opposite – too much land and too few plantings. A good rule of thumb is the old rule of three – keep the house to one-third, if you can, and the property to two-thirds.

“This is not always possible, so then you must artfully plant trees that will not dwarf the home in five to 10 years or look too small for the life of the house,” Primm said.

“Another rule of thumb is to plant small/open/multi trunk trees like birches and Japanese maples within 15 to 20 feet of the front of the home and never directly in front of the door. In the feng shui world, this translates to keeping good energy from coming in and blocking our view of the world.”

Also, shrubbery planted close to the house should only reach the base of the window frame – never going beyond and obliterating the view inside or outside.

In the world of feng shui, you take away good energy coming in from the outside and stifling the energy inside.

6. To curve or not curve. Curves slow your steps and eyes (yin) while straight lines speed your energy (yang), causing you to look beyond instead of enjoying where you are. Small spaces need straight lines because curves take up more room and could be difficult to navigate (never good feng shui). If you have a large property for gardening, think curves – curving/rounded plant/flower/shrubbery groups. Curving, rounded plants (yin) also soften the geometric angles (yang) of your home.

7. “Lastly, but importantly, think about the care plants need and choose wisely,” Primm said.

“You just may have something that calms the soul more than it adds to the work. The balance of what you get for what you give must be even or you may start resenting your beautiful space or missing out on some fun.”

Learn more about feng shui in the garden at bonnieprimmconsulting.com.

Balance Your Garden with Feng Shui

As spring comes into full bloom, we gratefully emerge from winter ready to create beautiful outdoor spaces. For many, this means planting gardens and building the perfect landscape in our own backyards. Did you know the ancient art of feng shui has its place both indoors and out? Here are a few helpful hints to help you discover your garden’s potential to not only be lovely to look at, but provide energy and balance to your world.

• Balance – To balance your planting scheme, always begin with the back of the planting area and plant higher (yang) than the next layer in front of it and again with the third layer in front until you reach three tiers descending in height to yin or the balance. (Three is a magical number in feng shui). Create vegetable gardens the same way—corn, tomatoes, cucumbers. This arrangement also arrests the eye because of the appealing balance. Plant high to low and mix it up with an eye to balancing the high/low, open/tight, light/dark.

• Texture – Next, consider texture. This also involves yin and yang. Use open longer stems (Shasta daisies -yang) to create motion with wind in the back. Then descend with seasonal flowers or perennials where the flowers heads are more condensed with each layer until you reach both rounder and tighter plants that may also group together like impatiens.

• Components – Rocks, garden sculptures, stone walls, benches, pergolas/gazebos, swings—all add visual interest and must find their balance as well within the softness of plants/flowers. One of the reasons we so love gardens is exactly for this reason. Outdoor spaces and gardens help us find balance within ourselves. So hardscape components are yang to the flowers’ yin.

• Color – If you have lots of room for your gardens, consider planning either themes of color or multi-color flowers. Multi -colors always “fill in” the space as we look at them because all the colors radiate a vibration and take up more visual space (yang). If, on the other hand, you have little room for a flower garden, it is important to consider same tone flowers and plants (yin), such as varying shades of whites and greens. Not only is it beautiful in its soft variations but also arresting to the eyes. A yin garden is very good for meditating.

• Visual Energy – As mentioned above, colors have vibrations with red having the most (yang) as well as yellows and oranges and even whites. Blues and purples and softer versions of yang like peach and pale yellow are more yin and “quiet” and concentrate their visual energy. So consider what you want to create—vibrant to quiet—or something in between for different areas of your gardens.

• Topography – The rise and fall of the land itself also is yin (low) and yang (high). Especially if you have a lot of land, it is important to bring balance and harmony to the space or it will look as if your home were dropped on a piece of dirt (or grass), and it feels incomplete and not harmonious. Adding berms (soil stacked to a soft or hard tier or terrace) so the space is broken and the eye can rest somewhere is ideal. Adding soil or subtracting can offer the same effect. Bring in large rocks and group them together to bring safety (especially if you live on a corner property) as well as grounding to the home and gardens. Remember round is yin and high and straight (tiers/terraces) is yang. Always seek balance.

• Proportion – Consider the proportion of house to garden/land. We have all seen too many plantings/trees and too little land and just the opposite: too much land and too few plantings. A good rule of thumb is the old rule of three. Keep the house to 1/3 (if you can) and the property to 2/3. Since this is not always possible, you must artfully plant trees that will not dwarf the home in 5-10 years or look too small for the life of the house. Another rule of thumb is to plant small/open/multi-trunk trees like birches and Japanese maples within 15-20 feet of the front of the home, but never in front of the door. Blocking the front door keeps good energy from coming in and not-good energy from leaving.

• Safety – Any shrubbery planted close to the house should only reach the bottom of the window and never obliterate the window inside and outside. In the feng shui world, you are taking away good Chi from the outside and stifling the Chi or energy inside. Planting too close to the house can also cause damage from roots and water welling up too close to the foundation. Also when shrubbery hides the window it is often an invitation for someone to hide behind it. Local police will always tell you to keep shrubbery below the sill.

• Curves – Curves slow walking down and the eye as well (yin) and straight lines speed us up (yang) and have us looking beyond and not where we are. Small spaces need straight lines because curves take up more room and can be difficult to navigate (never good feng shui). When planning gardens on a large piece of property, think curves—curving/rounded plant/flower/shrubbery groups. Corners of property need curves (yin) as well to soften the geometric angles (yang) of the house. In the feng shui world, Chi drops in corners.

• Commitment – Anything you plant you become responsible for, so perhaps you might think about that and plant areas of grass if you can take care of it, using river rock and stones where you do not want grass and flowers or perennials where no matter what the season you have something lovely to look at. Pick two and you just may have something that calms the soul more than it adds to the work. The balance of what you get for what you give must be even or you may start resenting your beautiful space. And that’s not good feng shui.

Stressed in the Office?

5 Tips to Lessen Stress in a VERY New/Old Way

There’s lots of information available on what stress can do to undermine your health, wellbeing and productivity. The fact is most of us are either sitting in the midst of or looking at some of the answers to alleviate some of those stresses. De-stressing at the office helps a lot toward de-stressing your life.
Depending on your viewpoint of what constitutes an optimum working environment – everything in its place and a place for everything or “where is it?” – There are still other aspects that function with you or against you in the getting work done and feeling good about it.
We are talking about the physical spaces. If you are in a beautifully designed space with an inviting reception area, meeting spaces and offices out of a commercial furnishings brochure you are probably in one of the better physical environments. And yet there are still elements, even in this arrangement that can undermine you and your work.

Awareness Tips:

  1. No Clutter – unopened boxes, storage boxes, file folder stacks, unused or broken office equipment (chairs, computers, printers/faxes/scanners, unused extra furniture)

Why? Even if you know what is in those boxes, stacks, etc. they will create a cluttered mind just as they clutter the spaces in the room – in good business practices, it is important to have “space” to think and create – when the minds-eye sees “stuff”, it becomes preoccupied with the stuff. Remove them. Store where they belong (not in your workspace). Notice the sense of freedom when done.

  1. Good Lighting – means using less overhead (fluorescent) and more incandescent/spot lighting in the form of recessed canned/top-hat ceiling lights, floor and table/desk lamps.

Why? Overhead lighting, including “good” full spectrum fluorescent bulbs is still over-whelming and creates conditions within the brain which TIRE you. Anything over your head is “hanging over your head” literally and diminishes your sense of well-being. Also, desk and floor lamps put light where you want it to define working and talking spaces as well as enhancing wall art and lighting up the dark corners where the contrast is what I call energy stealing. Turn off the ceiling lights, bring in some lamps and relax into your work.

  1. Décor/Art – believe it or not, the items you choose define you and display your talents, accomplishments and interests that also support you. There may be office culture “do’s and don’ts” but there is still leverage to create the space you find comfortable and comforting.

Why? We all know art supports a highly functioning community and gives more value back so why would this not work in our own micro world?

It personalizes and owns the space – a very powerful supporting element. And it brings in texture and color to add dimension to the space. Bring it on! Photos in great black frames, well framed art and prints – even appropriate posters – you will love it and so will those who visit or conference with you. You are defined by those choices.

  1. Wall Color and Texture – Color is Good. Depending on the type of business: professional, commercial or retail and everything in between, there are perfectly wonderful colors in hues from vibrants to subtles. Defining the space, the importance of the work you do and the people you work with and for, sets you and the work you do apart from another – A great de-stressor. Area rugs and many wall coverings function too for texture.

Why? Color has meaning, vibration and power to shift thinking and emotions. If you wish to energize you and the space, choose warm colors like yellows/golds/reds and to calm, choose blues/greens/grays. Within all of these colors range shades from deep to pale…you see you CAN use color. Texture is another way of adding flow. Try it.

  1. Placement/Space Arrangement – Never put too much in your space no matter how much you think you may need it. Always put your chair behind the desk facing the door and best at an angle rather than directly facing the door. Always have what you need (work spaces, credenzas) as close as possible to where you are. If you have room for seeing a guest and the space, a small seating area where you can talk is always best than from across your desk (unless you want the power of the desk between you).

Why? If you cannot navigate your space easily without twisting and turning, you are depriving yourself freedom – in this case it also means you think cramped and very possibly not creatively – from which all good work and ideas come. Space = Freedom = Creativity = Less Stress

Think on this concept that your space in a reflection of you. It can mirror who you want the world to see; it can enable you to think and act more creatively (and creative here does not mean “an artist” – it means time to consider and think through); and it empowers you and what you do by the energy you put into it. Remember: De-stressing at the office helps a lot toward de-stressing your life.

Bonnie Primm, Certified Life Coach, Marketer and Feng Shui Consultant works with commercial and residential spaces. Beyond Feng Shui – Connecting the Dots in marketing, coaching and consulting. www.bonnieprimmconsulting.com, bonnieprimm@bonnieprimmconsulting.com, bonnieprimm@yahoo.com (757)652-7993

Feng Shui and Your Personal Space with Norfolk’s Own Bonnie Primm

Feng Shui expert and practitioner Bonnie Primm, of Norfolk, Va., joins host Nora Firestone for an in-depth look at the ancient Oriental practice, including how, where and why we might implement Feng Shui in our own lives.

More Lifestyle Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with Nora Firestone on BlogTalkRadio