The problem with integral garages

Integral garage

Integral garages are a challenging feng shui issue in many modern homes today, especially in the United States, where so many houses are designed that way for convenience, with no thought for the energetic effects.

There are a number of problems this can cause.

Your front door is no longer your front door

An integral garage usually has a door that connects it to the house for ease of carrying shopping from the car. But doors are portals for energies as well as people, so what this means is that your garage entrance energetically becomes the main door of the home, and your real front door is hardly ever used.

Since many garages open into utility rooms rather than the more tastefully designed entrance foyers that front doors do, entering this way makes you feel like a second-class citizen. Your foyer may be a delightfully welcoming space for visitors, but you rarely experience this effect yourself. This can lead to issues such as low self-esteem, always putting other people’s needs before your own, or feeling that you don’t control your own life.

Your feng shui bagua orientation may change

The feng shui bagua is a grid that can be laid over the plans of your home to reveal where each aspect of your life is located in the property.

The most effective way to to do this is to orient the bagua to the front door of the home. However, if you have an integral garage, this can mean that you regularly enter through the door that connects the garage to your home instead of through the front door, and this may change the orientation of the feng shui bagua of your home in a way that can have undesirable consequences. For example, it could cause a bathroom or toilet to be located in the Wealth area of the bagua, with all the financially draining effects that can have.

There may be toxic seepage into your home

Another issue caused by having an integral garage is that any room located above one is not the best place for human habitation. If used as a bedroom, ungroundedness can result, and also health problems due to toxic seepage of fumes from the cars or chemicals that are stored in the garage.

A feng shui cure that sometimes remedies lack of grounding is to place a large rock or stone ornament in the room above the garage, and it may be possible to install ventilation ducts to channel toxic fumes safely away. But it’s still far from ideal to use such a room as a bedroom. It would be better to use it as a storage area, taking care, of course, that it doesn’t become a junk room.

The energetic side-effects

One of the least understood problems caused by having an integral garage is that each time you enter the home after parking your car, you will not only swamp your home with toxic chemicals from car fumes but will also unwittingly carry with you a whole mish-mash of energies that the vehicle has collected on its travels, which can cause very chaotic effects.

Most eastern cultures understand very well that there needs to be a clear separation between outdoor and indoor energies, which is why they observe the strict practice of removing their shoes before entering a building. They know how disruptive it can be to trample outdoor energies through a home, and this is not even taking into account the chemical cocktail of pesticides that we pick up on the soles of our shoes, even in urban areas. But most westerners have very little awareness of this, and modern garage designs now take this one step further by mingling the energies of cars as well.

The ideal location for a garage

In places like Singapore, where feng shui principles are well integrated into everyday life, cars are always located far away from living spaces, usually in designated car parks. Even the super-rich park their Ferraris at a suitable distance from the house, usually in open carports rather than enclosed in garages (a carport facilitates cleansing circulations of wind). I have never seen a single instance of a Singaporean home that has a garage attached to any kind of living space.

According to feng shui, the ideal location for a garage is some distance away from the house and behind the line of the front door, not in front of it, like the garage pictured here. Positioned right at the front of the home, this garage resembles a gaping mouth waiting to be fed. The occupants of a house such as this are likely to find that their time and resources are relentlessly gobbled up by one thing after another.

So what can you do if your home has an integral garage?

One client I worked with in the US devised a simple solution to the utility entrance issue at least. She would park her car in the garage, walk to her front door closing the garage door behind her with a remote control, and enter her home through the front door. If there was shopping to be brought in from the car, she would then re-enter the garage through her utility room to retrieve it. This simple change of behaviour resulted in beneficial changes in her life on many different levels.

Too much trouble, do I hear you say? I admit it depends a lot on the design of your house, the weather on any particular day, and how much you care about the quality of energy in your home. But if I had to live in a house like this, I would certainly do it. I suggest you at least give it a try for a while and see how it feels. Even if you cheat occasionally and enter through the utility room when it’s pouring with rain, you’ll still probably notice a marked improvement.

And if you want to take it one step further, try taking off your shoes upon entering too. In most western homes it’s not practical or desirable to leave them outside the front door, but keeping them in a cupboard just inside the front entrance works almost as well. When outside energies are kept outside, you can build a much more nurturing space inside.

Other articles about garages
Why most garages aren’t what they seem
Is your clutter worth more than your car?

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Copyright © Clear Space Living Ltd 2012, updated 2017

Do you have an integral garage? Do you habitually enter your home through the connecting door? How does this feel different to entering through your main front door?

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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16 Responses to The problem with integral garages

  1. Hi Karen,
    I read this helpfull article and it is clear to me how to see it and what the problems are or could occure. One thing is not clear to me, I have a question regarding the “ungroundedness”: do I have this in any case when I have a two floor home and the bedroom is in the upper floor? Or is this especially the case when the garage is under the bedroom, because the car is coming and going (there is always movement below my bedroom)?
    Thanks and best regards,

    1. I have certainly observed that people who live in countries or regions where single storey homes are the norm are generally much more grounded than people who live in 2-storey homes or apartment buildings. Two prime examples of that spring immediately to mind are Bali, Indonesia and Perth, Australia, where 2-storey homes are still fairly rare. People who live in single storey buildings tend to have a closer relationship to the land and a much earthier, common sense approach to life.

      Sleeping over a garage is more ungrounding than simply sleeping on the upper floor of a home above a living room, for example, because of the echoey, hard nature of the garage space itself. It is designed for cars, not people, and may also contain clutter. The structure and usage do not facilitate energetic anchorage.

  2. Hi, Both of my house and garage is seperated but with a door enter to the house from the garage. They are in rectangle shape. but the house is longer than garage. Is the garage included in bagua map?, if so, second level of the house will have huge missing spot? Thanks

  3. Karen, this is a useful article. I have two follow up questions.

    Do all members of a household need to take up walking around from the garage to the front door in order to re-orient the bagua back to the front door (especially relevant when the front door is on the side of the house it seems to me). If not all members will do that, will the bagua re-orient? would it create additional problems, like confused chi?

    Second, when using the garage as the primary entrance to the house, which door would be considered the door to the house: the door to the garage or the door from the garage into the house? Relatedly, is an attached garage considered part of the interior of the house and the bagua lays over the garage with the house?

    Thank you!

    1. Hi Teresa – I can easily answer your first question. It is the energy flows created by people entering and leaving an entrance to a home that determines the orientation of the bagua, so the primary entrance for bagua purposes will be the one that is used most of the time by most of the occupants. Your other questions could have varying answers depending on the architectural design of the house and the garage, the location of the street, and several other factors, so you will need to consult with a feng shui practitioner in your area to get help with this.

    2. My current and last few homes have had an integrated garage which tends to make the property look like a house attached to a garage and not the other way around. Whilst convenient, I never really liked the garaging of cars to be at the front of the house or a door opening into the living areas from the garage. So, in designing our next home, we will just have a car port set slightly away from the house – mainly so that we don’t fill the width of the block and have this great fence to fence edifice. With a carport at the front of the block, we will be able to see through it to the side and back of the block to give it more of a feeling of openness and light while still having a designated off-road parking area and shade for the vehicles.

  4. I have such an garage as pictured here,: although, there is more distance from the front door. One can not see the front entrance from the front of my garage . My entrance from the garage to the home is a very nicely appointed hallway with a closed chest for my outside shoes. I suppose the fact that there is an enclosed bathroom and laundry room on the left would be an issue, correct? If so, how can that be corrected?
    Also, does the color of the garage doors affect the feng shui? They are in the 60 degree position and black or gray are the colors which compliment the remainer of the outside decor. I realize they would be Earth colors if following the ‘front door’ suggestions. I did paint them red. They clashed with the remainder of the front and the neighbors called to complain.
    Thank you

    1. Hi Rita – Sorry, but I do not offer personalized feng shui advice from a distance because I cannot guarantee it will be accurate or effective. There are too many aspects that need to be taken into account that cannot be assessed from afar. You will need to find a reputable feng shui consultant in your part of the world to make a personal visit to your home to advise you.

  5. By cupboard do you mean shoerack? Also does the shoerack need to be more like an enclosed type of container where you cannot see the shoes?

  6. I’m glad I’m reading about integral garages because I never knew… My garage is like the photo you published, however, the entrance from my garage into my home enters into my TV room/den/breakfast area. It is an open concept and from the garage door you can look into my kitchen where there is a built in refrigerator. My plan is to hang four letters spelling the word “L~O~V~E” on the wall of the built in refrigerator. It would be the first thing you see when entering this area from my garage. Will this work?

    1. Hi Ann, I do not offer personalized feng shui advice from a distance because there are so many things to take in account that could easily be missed. However if you are asking me if putting a LOVE decoration on the wall is a feng shui cure for having an integral garage, my reply would have to be a most emphatic “no”. If this issue is a concern for you, you will need to seek out a reputable feng shui consultant in your local area who can visit your home and advise you.

  7. A friend of mine lived in Norway last winter and I became quite accustomed to seeing outdoor shoes, umbrellas and children’s buggies left on the communal landings – which would be frowned upon in the UK for health and safety reasons. Having said that, the flat was in a very desirable area, behind a security door and Norwegians do seem pretty relaxed about the potential for thieves making off with their stuff. I saw any amount of people abandoning suitcases, handbags and even leaving mobile phones lying around in cafes, pubs and open spaces whilst they popped off to the toilets or counter. Sometimes I felt a bit of an uptight Brit keeping a close eye on my stuff!

  8. By removing shoes before entering a building you mean that people shouldn’t keep outdoor shoes indoors, or that people shouldn’t even let them indoors at all?
    In (urban) Finland shoes are never worn indoors but they certainly do enter the home, I can’t imagine anyone leaving them outside their frontdoor in a public stairwell for bypassers to snatch if they wish. At our home, we put them in a closet with outercoats behind a closed door as there is no separate hallway.

    1. I’ve added more information to the last paragraph of my article to make it clear what I mean:

      “In most western homes it’s not practical or desirable to leave shoes outside the front door, but keeping them in a cupboard just inside the front entrance works almost as well.”

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