Why beams are such a feng shui no-no

The reason exposed beams are so problematic is because they dissect the energy of a space. The sharper, lower and more prominent the beams, the stronger the effect will be.


The disecting effect that beams have is known in feng shui as “cutting chi”. This room is a splendid example of all three types because the beams are low, sharp and very prominent. You would certainly be aware of them and they would certainly affect you.

Cutting chi

Many people are sensitive enough to feel cutting chi on the top of their head when walking under beams, but the real problems start when you have to spend extended periods of time immobile underneath them, such as sitting on a sofa to watch TV, sitting at a desk to work, standing in a kitchen to cook, or lying in bed to rest or sleep. It is a well-established feng shui principle that daily prolonged exposure of this type can cause health problems in whichever part of the body is directly in line with the cutting chi.

Kitchen with sharp beams

Sharp beams are also known to cause irritation, arguments, disorientation and feeling fragmented. Low beams, such as the ones you can see here in the photo of the kitchen, accentuate the effects. They can feel oppressive and may result in feelings of frustration, hopelessness or even impending doom, like waiting for the axe to fall. It will be very challenging to cook nourishing meals in the type of kitchen pictured here. It’s typically a situation where a family tends to live on fast food, takeaways or eating out because unconsciously they want to use the room as little as possible or avoid it altogether.

In my space clearing workshops, as part of teaching people how to perceive energies in rooms, I show them how to feel the type of cutting chi that emanates from the sharp corners of furniture or walls. Most people can easily sense it with their hands if they’re shown how. It’s very tangible indeed. And the part of your subtle body structure that is affected by cutting chi (your etheric) feels this all the time, whether you’re aware of it or not.

Feng shui remedies

If you comb through feng shui books, the most common cures suggested for beams are to place bamboo flutes, or images of birds, balloons or angels in the location. The idea is that these items are associated with the element of air and bring a feeling of levity, which is said to counteract the downward force of beams. I find this fundamentally flawed. How on earth would it work for a blind person who cannot see the imagery, for example?  I’ve never found any of these cures be more than minimally effective, and certainly not with such extensive cutting chi as in the homes pictured here.

Another popular remedy is to paint the beams to match the colour of the ceiling so that they stand out less. This works particularly well if the ceiling and accompanying beams are painted white or cream. For sighted people, this feels a lot better, but energetically the cutting chi effect remains unchanged.

The best remedy is to install a false ceiling to completely cover any exposed beams. A halfway version of this is to hang fabric canopies to mask the beams, but these usually look messy, are difficult to take down and clean, and can be costly. If the beams are in a bedroom, a good solution can be to sleep in a four-poster canopy bed that has no sharp-edged structures within it so that at least you won’t be affected by cutting chi during the hours you’re asleep.

Copyright © Clear Space Living Ltd 2017, updated 2022

More about beams
Beams, beams, beams
The problem with split beds

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About Karen Kingston

Karen Kingston is a leading expert in clutter clearing, space clearing, feng shui, and healthy homes. Her two international bestselling books have combined sales of over three million copies in 26 languages and have established themselves as "must-read" classics in their fields. Her best-known title, Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui, is now in its fifth edition. She is best known for her perspective-changing insights and practical solutions that enable more conscious navigation of 21st-century living.
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6 Responses to Why beams are such a feng shui no-no

  1. What if the beams in work place where I can’t request from management to have concealed ceiling to covers all the beams and I can’t simply hang those remedies on the beams?

  2. My entry has alternating beams overhead where lighting was installed by the former owner. I was thinking of simply covering the whole area with plywood and painting it white just like my walls. Is that remedy enough?

    1. Hi Marisella – I never give personalized feng shui advice from a distance because there are so many aspects that need to be taken into account that cannot be assessed that way. However, the solution you have come up with is one I have recommended to many people, so it’s very likely it will work for you in your situation too.

  3. I live in an old Tuscan farmhouse. Beams in every room. Horizontal and vertical. With exposed terracotta in between. There is no way I could put in false ceilings. This is how Tuscan farmhouses are built. It is traditional. What to do?

    1. Hi Susie – Sorry, there is no miracle solution I can offer. The best I can suggest is that you read more articles about the effect of beams. Then you will be able to assess for yourself whether they are affecting you, in what ways, and to what degree. You are also likely to discover that some beams affect you more than others, depending on their location. You may be able to make furniture adjustments to mitigate at least some of these effects.

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