In most traditional cultures, the kitchen is regarded as vital to the health and welfare of the family and indeed it can even be regarded as sacred. In the same way, our own mothers and grandmothers would severely reprimand us if we fooled around in their space, made their floor messy, tinkered with their cooking pots while they were preparing a meal or upset the contents of the fridge. For the cook, they have the responsibility for nourishing the family and this is where our blood and our Chi originates. In traditional Feng Shui, the kitchen was reasonably secluded and definitely off limits for pranksters and general traffic. Cooking is undoubtedly one of the highest expressions of love and the cook needs a space where they can begin to create the health of the family in peace and quiet.
From a Chi perspective, the kitchen therefore needs to have no “through draught” of Chi. The front door facing the kitchen and the back door is a typical example in contemporary times. The cook needs to have a feeling of focus without distractions and therefore an ideal position for a cooker is away from the door, while at the same time giving the cook a sense of security so that they can actually see the door from they are positioned. For practical purposes, if this is not possible, it is possible to install a mirror on the splashback behind the cooker, angled in such a direction so that the cook can see the door. Remember, Chi energy not only enters through windows and doors but also dissipates. Try to avoid placing a cooker directly underneath a skylight and avoid placing it directly in front of a window – just to the side is perfect. Check the area in the vicinity of where the cook stands for potential cutting Chi. Sharp edges from the kitchen table or other units within this space are obvious sources. Another potential source of cutting Chi is the hood from the extractor unit which is often at head level or higher. Notice if this bearing down directly on you in any way.
Since the dawn of civilisation, we have cooked with fire and the modern interpretation of this flame is the recommendation to use gas rather than electricity or microwave. While a flame will not necessarily change the nutritional value of the food compared to the use of electricity or microwave, it will certainly change the Chi. I personally dislike the lack of visible control that electricity or microwave cooking provides me with as I cook. The flame is the full expression of fire energy and as such, is a microcosm of what the source of so much of our Chi in life is – the sun. Simply speaking, when we cook we are placing a little bit of sun under our food and with skill and practise, we can adjust this fire to suit our needs. If you have not cooked for a long time on a flame, then consider preparing your food on a gas stove (even a portable camping unit) for a 10 day period and notice how different the food not only tastes but the change of Chi that you become aware of.
There is also the strong possibility of a clash of Elements within the kitchen – namely Fire and Water. In the diagram below (Figure 21), you are reminded of the relationship between Water and Fire. From a Feng Shui perspective, it is considered unwise to position water either opposite the cooker or adjacent to it. In this context, water is naturally the sink but can also include the fridge, the deep freeze, the dishwasher or a washing machine. However, the first 3 are the most important. If this is the case, then the obvious solution is to re-site one of the elements or if they are adjacent to one another and it is impractical, then put in place the mitigating Element – in this case Wood/Tree between the two features. This could be translated to imply hanging wooden cooking utensils between the water and the cooker or storing a wooden chopping block between the two Elements.
Keeping your cupboard, your larder, your fridge well stocked implies abundance, richness and even generosity. We can all recall the experience of Chi when we open an empty cupboard or a poorly stocked refrigerator in search of something to eat! By having plenty and even cooking a little more than is necessary, exudes the Chi of hospitality and friendship. In the same way, serving stingy portions exudes the kind of Chi that is too tight, too Yang and lacks real warmth.
Central cooking stations in the middle of the room are becoming popular in modern kitchen design. From a Chi perspective, this can work for some individuals and not for others. Some cooks prefer the focus and concentration of cooking whereas others would like to be at the centre of the room, involved in all the traffic and have the kind of Chi that thrives on this situation. If you have such a feature or wish to design one, make sure that the edges are rounded to avoid cutting Chi and remember the obvious conflict of Fire and Water. Unlike in traditional times, the kitchen has tended to become the focal point for eating. This makes sense as it is naturally one of the warmest rooms in the house and with a little care, the position and layout of the dining area can bring great harmony and communication to the members of the household. Consider the difference between people eating on stools, with no mountain (support) behind them at a kitchen bar type table which faces a wall. It will encourage little communication and eating in a hurry. On the other hand, a layout which includes a stable, preferably round table surrounded by comfortable supportive dining chairs – ideally in even numbers, sets the tone for communication and focus. I personally really value sitting around the table and sharing a meal with my family. It is, for me, the highlight of the day. Communication is possible, sharing is possible, rather than individual members dashing off to their rooms with their plate or sitting in another room in front of the T.V. completely out of communication. As with all areas of your home, if you set the tone using the essential understanding of Chi in both the design and layout of space, you are simply supporting and stage managing a healthy, vibrant environment.