Lunar New YearThere’s no need to panic at
the thought of the annual CNY
purge and spruce

Chinese New Year is theoretically a time for celebration, yet it can turn into something of a nightmare. Mum’s shrieks of, “Get your room in tip-top shape. Uncle Chan’s visiting us!” is familiar in Chinese families that typically get together to clean out the cobwebs and junk and spice up their home with the right decorations. Knowing they’ll be coming down in less than a month only makes the task more taxing. We’d all rather be cozied up in bed for a brief spring hibernation. Well, put up your feet, relax and take some tips on setting a festive mood with a minimal amount of effort.

When it comes to decoration, a common mistake is exaggerated blinking lights and cackling electronic firecrackers all around their house — exactly the same illness that afflicts Christmas decorating. So rule number one is never to overdo it. You’ll need neither an antique chair nor a rosewood dining table. A simple tweak will do the magic. Tangerines and mandarin oranges are a traditional and attractive splash of colour for dining and side tables, and an easy, lazy-day trick is serving guests with teapots and cups adorned with red ribbons. For a temporary pop of colour, play with fabrics around the house, such as carpets, table runners, cushion and pillow covers. Step outside the typical cliched red of Chinese New Year and think gold or pink too.

Understanding some basic feng shui can be helpful. Feng Shui is not just about myths but formulae that work around the law of nature — helping one to live in harmony with the environment. As feng shui master Raymond Lo puts it, “The most important function of fung shui is to identify the locations of good energies and bad energies in the house. Good energy brings health and prosperity, while bad energy brings sickness and misfortune.”

Lo predicts that in the Year of the Dragon a bad star will bring misfortune to the southeast portion of our homes. “If your bedroom or entrance is in southeast, it is necessary to hang a metal wind chime to dissolve this. One should hang a string of six metal coins in the north side of the house to get rid of a sick energy.”

If none of that makes any sense to you, just remember feng shui is all about the human relationship with the surroundings. From there it’s not hard to reconcile how it goes hand in hand with interior design. Chinese New Year is often a time to incorporate Chinese calligraphy and paintings into your home.

However, “one should avoid putting pictures that illustrate negative atmosphere, including those with pointy objects and sad faces,” said Newman Leung Pak-chuen, a Feng Shui master with Adidas. Make sure you put up smiles and couplets that denote prosperity and longevity.

There’s nothing like blooming plants at home to let in chi — energy — to your dwelling, as evidenced by the annual market in Victoria Park and, of course, the plant Mecca at Prince Edward. But short-lived New Year flowers like peach blossoms are generally a nuisance to clean up, and so you might want to consider options such as bamboo or orchids, which don’t go out of style after the New Year. Decorate a mirror or any glass surface with a decal of plum or cherry blossoms, which can be peeled off at anytime.

And if you’re really ready to roll up your sleeves Master Li Hon-chu has one final tip: Start renovations in the west portion of the house this year. “A good start will often result in sound endings.”