Creating harmony at home

Walking into Penny Mulcay's house is like thumbing through an issue of Better Homes and Gardens.

The counters are clutter-free, the refrigerator is stainless steel without a single magnet or photograph and crystals hang tastefully from fixtures in every room.

Mulcay isn't just a good housekeeper. She practices the art of feng shui, a Chinese system of laws considered to govern spatial arrangement and orientation in relation to the flow of energy.

Mulcay started her business, Home Harmony, to help people find peace and happiness at home. She specializes in "black sect" or "BTB" feng shui - pronounced fung shway - to organize and decorate clients' homes.

In BTB feng shui, clutter is used as a metaphor for life: Circumstances and good intentions help achieve results.

Put simply, feng shui is the process of organizing and decorating your home to promote positive energy. It's a system where the placement of objects matters and each room - depending on the location in relation to the front door - represents a particular area of your life.

The principle of the five elements - wood, fire, earth, metal and water - is represented using certain colors and shapes to create balance.

Candles promote conversation, a red front door draws power into the home and a mirror at the end of a hallway prevents energy from getting "stuck."

Furniture and objects are positioned toward the front door, not the television.

The first thing Mulcay encourages clients to do is de-clutter their homes.

"That's a hard one because some clutter is very personal to people and can bring up emotional issues," Mulcay said. "You have to be ready to deal with that."

Clutter, however, prevents energy from moving and is associated with negative relationship, financial and health patterns.

"If everything is not flowing, it gets stuck and that affects your life," said Mulcay, who recently redesigned her "relationship room" by switching out a rectangular table for an octagonal one.

Mulcay said she's been single for seven years but has started dating again since the change.

"It's not like it's magic," Mulcay said about feng shui. "If you set your wealth corner and it's your intention to have enough money at the end of the month, then you become more aware of the goal and that's what you make happen."

Feng shui beginners should pick two or three rooms to start with rather than tackling the entire house at once, Mulcay encouraged.

"Look in your life and see where you want

changes and that's where you should start," she said.

"It's not that you have to make a lot of changes. Intention is as important as the actual cure."

Mulcay is running Home Harmony according to an ancient feng shui tradition, for now. Instead of mailing clients a bill, she asks them to pay her - in nine red envelopes - as much as they feel is fair for the work she did and to refer her services to two people.

"It's not like I need this for livelihood," Mulcay said, who also works from home close-captioning programs for television.

"Yes, I would love to retire to do this someday but, for now, this is just me sharing my passion."

A Home Harmony Web site is under construction and expected to launch by the end of the week.

For more information, go online to www.home or call Mulcay at 683-8168.

Ashley Miller can be reached at ashleyo@

ABCs of feng shui

Feng shui is based on nine sectors that vary slightly from technique to technique but generally include:

_ Wealth, which affects your fortune

_ Fame, which affects your reputation

_ Relationships, which affects your relationships with your partner

_ Family, which affects your health

_ Balance/center/unity, which affects the entire home

_ Children/creativity, which affects your ability to complete things

_ Knowledge, which affects your self-awareness

_ Career, which affects your life journey

_ Friends, which affects your support network and benefactors

Each sector is represented in an area of the home depending on the location in accordance to the front door.

Colors, shapes and objects in each room promote positive or negative energy and "cures" - such as chimes hanging by the window or a mirror at the end of a hallway - can prevent energy from escaping or becoming stagnant.

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