Feng Shui Q & A: Homes With Exposed Ceiling Beams

A reader asked a really relevant- yet often not asked- question about exposed ceiling beams and feng shui. “I am working a traditional newly built oak English new build. There are oak beams exposed internally in every room. I am new to this, but can you give me some general hints please – perhaps what to enhance and avoid.”

My Answer:

Beams are considered superbad news in traditional, old school feng shui. You’ll hear suggestions to hang “bamboo flutes” (don’t ask, you can only get them in specialty places likely online (can you tell I’m not into this)) and cross them on the beams to “lessen” the pressure caused by the beams.  Others suggest hanging crystals from the beams to accomplish the same metaphysical feat.

What beams do in a home in the actuality I’ve experienced is to “visually chop up” a space if they are severe. If they are diagonal beams with a pitched ceiling, they extraordinarily capture the attention and take you out of a room and have you focus on them— and that is both distracting and “dismembering” to a  room or a home in extremes. 

If you have a home with beams there are a few basics I’ll recommend to get you started in making the rhythmic most of these beams.  First, do not sleep with beams crossing important gathering areas directly if possible (IE, don’t put your bed under beams that “chop you up” while you sleep.  Sorry, these metaphors get ridiculous, but if you follow what I’m saying you can reposition so the beams seem less extreme overhead…or in a best-case scenario, canopy the bed or the ceiling over your bed.  If a living room is being dominated by beams you need to pull the attention down to the ground and create a fiery, dynamic room that “overrides” the beams effect.  And same thing holds- don’t let your biggest sofa sit under a beam if possible.

Now, can you hang bamboo flutes on beams? Yes.  But understand that they are hung at a diagonal which fixes attention on the flutes rather than the beam.  I personally find that in all but rare cases the result is super-distracting in another way (ie, why does this person have these weird sticks on their ceiling?)  I have hung painted lanterns on distracting beam in a fantastic pattern, I have suggested a massive chandelier of metal or crystal in a room that is being dominated by beams (check the image above for an example) to both ground the room and take attention away from that “beam effect”… So, here are your ideas! Have fun!!!

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Always, I love hearing from you! xoxo Dana

Lili November 23, 2012 at 1:45 pm

Hi, Dana! Thanks for the useful post! I am living in an apt with the same problems, exposed beams internally in every room. I was wondering if that poses a problem on income and wealth by any chance? My boyfriend and I have been trying to “feng shui-fy” the place and it has indeed lifted some negative energy by tidying up messy wires, placing positive decor around the place but money still seems to come and go so instantaneously. Our water system seems fine although we do have a big hot water tank that is visibly located just behind our toilet. It’s a weird way how the french build their toilets, it’s built in a separate room from the washroom! Do you think that would be one of the reasons why our income/wealth area is affected?

Hope you have a wonderful day!

Cheers,
Lili

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danaclaudat November 24, 2012 at 2:29 am

hm, where is the “water tank” and is your home a perfect rectangle?

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Lili November 29, 2012 at 12:54 pm

Hi, Dana! My apologies for the late reply! In my apartment, the shower area, sink and laundry are all in one room where as the toilet is across the hall in a separate room. This is where the big water tank is situated, right behind the toilet. My apartment is not a perfect rectangle.. Rather a square.

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Dimple May 28, 2013 at 10:29 am

What if the beams are not exposed….and they are covered to form ceilings….???

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danaclaudat May 28, 2013 at 4:25 pm

not an issue at all 🙂

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Ruta September 24, 2013 at 10:09 pm

Hi Dana, great post (and great blog)! I love everything Feng Shui myself.

So I am moving into a new apartment, which is loft style, open floor plant, and that means exposed brick walls and exposed duct-work… I really love everything about that apartment. The only concern is that exposed duct-work. I don’t want this to stop me from moving into it. So I need a cure :)Would you consider duct-work same problem like beams?

Thanks!

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danaclaudat September 25, 2013 at 10:02 pm

yes, like beams. that’s a good place to start! any architecture that “breaks up” a space will function like beams….and that isn’t a bad thing in and of itself. beams can be energizing, they are not “all bad” 🙂

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Ruta September 26, 2013 at 4:53 pm

Do you think wrapping “Christmas” string lights around them would be a good cure?

P.S. I have bought your book and it is amazing. Lots of inspiring information 🙂

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danaclaudat September 27, 2013 at 3:53 am

Thats a very interesting one—it could work in certain places, but remember, when those lights are off it will be a bunch of wires wrapped around the beams….If its done very neatly, it could be cool….
and wow, thank you so much!!! where are your beams?

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Ruta September 27, 2013 at 6:50 pm

There’s just few of those pipes and they look kind of “skinny”. One goes in the bedroom, parallel to the window, not above the bed. And few in the living room. Mostly they are closer to the walls. This is an example I found. It’s the other apartment in the same building, but similar situation will be in mine as well: http://204.15.52.75:8011/19092_2_SLS.jpg

Wendy May 4, 2014 at 2:44 pm

Hi Dana,
What about the feng shui of a single beam running across a walk out basement, going through a family room and a pool room? We’re building a house and they just installed the beam. So I’m wondering about placement of furniture, and whether or not the beam has any ill affects running north and south, with the house facing west.

Plus I was disappointed when I saw the beam was made up of several 2 x 6’s formed together, rather than one giant piece of wood. Is that a factor in relation to feng shui?

Thanks!

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danaclaudat May 4, 2014 at 8:25 pm

The best thing to do is to see if you can 1. paint it and 2. hang things (lantern, chandelier, etc) from it if that is structurally possible. Beamms are a part of lots of contruction and they need not spell devestation… as for the multiple pieces, is the beam then a structural item in your house??? i am not sure something contrcted this way can be structural…. let me know, i am curious, and everything can be made better so no worries! xoxo

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Wendy May 28, 2014 at 3:59 pm

Yes, the the beam is structural. It’s holding up the floor above. The alternative was one or more posts coming down to the floor and the beam looks nicer and is less obtrusive. You can see it here http://camanohome.com/the-beam/. It’s hard to tell from these photos, but when you enter the downstairs and walk into one of two rooms, the beam will go horizontally across the middle of both rooms. You would walk under it to go to the other side of the rooms, or walk along side of it to go down the hallway to the bedrooms or bathroom.
It will be stained and will look really nice, but just wondering if it will block any chi or the flow that may come in from the sliding glass door on the other side of the room, or between that and the stairs, or if that even matters. (?)
Thanks,
Wendy

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Rachel February 4, 2015 at 1:00 pm

How WONDERFUL to find your blog (I’m now signed up) and get an encouraging take on exposed beams. We’ve been assigned to Switzerland for 12 months and are housed on the very top floor apartment (under a pitched roof) of what once was a huge farmhouse with attached barn. Loads of windows/skylights, heated slate floors, and lots of exposed beams (the edges of which have been flattened/shaved down so there are no 90-degree angles). We attached strings of pastel LED lights (always on) UNDER the 2 main cross beams, with the tail of the string hanging partway down the wall. Was that useful feng-shui-wise?
jfyi, there is a chateau/castle up the hill behind us and the front of the building faces Lake Geneva (about 3 blocks away, downhill).

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danaclaudat April 18, 2015 at 10:50 pm

it sounds like an amazing place… and i love the pastel led lights- i’d LOVE to see a picture!!!

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Flora April 7, 2015 at 6:13 pm

Hi Dana,
First thank you. I am longtime follower of your blog…just adore your work and get so much out of it. Your blog has surely changed my life and I have been down a hole similar to the one you describe in your own life.
I am facing a beam challenge. Our big room is very cave like…not a lot of light. We have long time ago added a small round skylight above the beams in dining room to add much needed light. But it does draw eyes upward. Years ago I also covered the dark beams with fabric, because my hubby would not let me paint them a light color. And that did wonders! The beams now kind of fade into the light colored walls and your eyes just look right past them. But now…our daughter has a severe dust allergy. Gone are the flokati rugs. Gone are lots of the curtains. And now…I need to take that fabric down. It is a dust haven for sure. I have taken it down before to clean it but…it just would require that too often for me to manage it with the allergy. I am dreading the return of the dark beams, already wrestling with health challenges that I have been overcoming but still working on…and…just really don’t know what to do. Hubby is still very against painting them. They are right over dining table, where we eat and spend lots of activity time too.
If you have any suggestions, I would SO APPRECIATE!
Love and gratitude,
Flora

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maktina June 10, 2015 at 10:01 pm

Hi Dana,
I love your blog, thank you!
My husband and I are looking to buy a 1850 farmhouse in the country and everything is beautiful, yet the living room and dining/office is divided by vertical and horizontal square beams something like tic-tac-toe lines. There is an open door where the two rooms meet. As the beams separate the room in three visual ‘compartments’ the bottom is plastered making sort of a wall. In the same space on the right side of this beams there is a Z beam something like a diagonal placement (think a Z panel barn door). There are also small thickness beams on the ceiling. I was thinking to paint them all and make them disappear.
I wanted please to hear your opinion on the room divider beams. I know it is a bit unusual scenario, I am hoping there is a solution because other wise this place is dreamy!

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danaclaudat June 16, 2015 at 12:10 pm

This one is way too visual and complicated to solve in a simple question, but it soumds like you are on the way to a solution with the painting 🙂
If you feel great in the space, I wouldn’t worry!!!

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Hilary Baxter June 15, 2015 at 11:44 pm

Hi, I have a question. I have a one room, A-frame cabin with a half loft. The house is shaped like a triangular prism, with a rectangular base.

Inside, beams run up the wall at four foot intervals. Exposed beams support the loft every two feet. Because the walls are the same pine as the beams, these beams do not catch the eye.

Is a cure necessary? If so what would you recommend?

(Just found your blog today, will be back often)

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danaclaudat June 16, 2015 at 12:03 pm

Maybe a chandelier? Its tough to say simoly because I don;t do superstitious feng shui cures byt likely a chandelier… sounds super cool! xoxo

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Jacqueline July 13, 2015 at 12:39 pm

Hi, I have an old French farmhouse which is full of dark beams. Is it possible to either paint them white and stop the bad energy, or should I cover them with plasterboard, in order to stop the bad energy. Your recommendations would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

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danaclaudat July 14, 2015 at 3:17 am

white is often good. if you have very high ceilings its not that big a deal!

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Shirley August 31, 2015 at 6:42 am

Hi, my office high ceiling has 2 water sprinklers with long slim pipes that seemed to represent beams on the ceiling. I cannot hang flutes or crystals over the slim pipes because it is a fire hazard. Please advise how can I counter act the ‘”beam effect”. Thank you.

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danaclaudat September 10, 2015 at 4:08 pm

if its a high ceiling don’t worry too much 🙂

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Susan November 7, 2015 at 1:03 pm

Hi Dana, love your blog. I wonder if you can advise me. I am moving to a two bed bungalow soon. There is a large cupboard in the centre of the bungalow, doors open into the living room. In there is the hot water tank. It sort of blocks the whole centre of the home. If I were to move it, where should it ideally go and where should it definitely not go? The front door faces slightly north west. Bedrooms are NW and SW. Bathroom is south, kitchen SE and living room is NE.
Kind regards
Susan

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danaclaudat November 12, 2015 at 3:23 pm

I don;t deal in directional feng shui so its not important what is where on a compass to me but rather how you can best function in the space logistically. you don;t want that near a bedroom if possible! 🙂 xoxo

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Yvonne November 9, 2015 at 5:12 am

Hi Dana,
Can you tell me how to remedy an overhead beam that runs length ways over the lounge in the lounge room? The room is too small to move the lounge to another location. And also how to remedy an overhead beam over the front door and 2 poison arrows facing the front door as you walk in? Can hanging crystals be used to remedy these things, thanks?

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danaclaudat November 12, 2015 at 3:22 pm

i don;t use hanging crystals… but there are ways like painting the beam, adding garland, etc, that can soften its effects based on the design of your space. sorry that i don’t deal in general remedies as every space is specific but you can feel out what works best for you!

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Maruthi February 11, 2016 at 3:08 pm

Hi Dana
In our home 3 wood beams is their 2 is parallel with height of 10 feet from the ground level ( 2 beams mounted 8 feet away from both side wall and also 8 feet distance with each other), where as another beam is 25 feet from ground level crossing over 2 paralle beams.

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danaclaudat August 5, 2016 at 4:17 am

the father from you the less they’ll affect you!

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Rupali Mukherjee March 23, 2016 at 4:10 pm

HI DANA

My seat in my office is right below a very low beam…thats what is creating problem in my work too….please suggest me something about it soon….I cannot do anything eye catchy there as it is my office premises…..suggest me something immediately

Regards…Rupali

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danaclaudat July 18, 2016 at 4:37 am

can you advust your seating or your desk a bit so it’s not directly over you? even tipping the desk, etc?

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Kim June 2, 2016 at 4:17 am

I have sprinkler system pipes near my ceiling in my apartment. What can I do?

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danaclaudat June 13, 2016 at 12:19 am

That’s typicaly not bad as long as the plumbing is good 🙂

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danaclaudat September 29, 2013 at 6:50 pm

they don’t bother me a ton… if the rooms are fantastic you won’t pay much attention to them… just get reviews from people in the building as to the state of the plumbing….and get renters insurance. those type of pipes, should something leak, etc, should not be your headache 🙂

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