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A Tale of Two Coffee Shops: How Feng Shui Fixes Can Attract More Business

I have personally been on the receiving end of Shea Hansen’s energy design services, and I can say with my hand on my heart they made a huge difference in my personal and professional life. So when we met for coffee to discuss her company, The Garden Republic, we of course got to talking about the space we were sitting in.

Hansen pinpointed design challenges and fixes that would make customers feel more at ease. She also commented on how to create an inviting atmosphere that would draw guests in.

Her ideas intrigued me, so after Hansen suggested we continue our discussion, I picked a place we both have never been before. This way I could see what insight she might have for a different environment.

When we got together the second time, Hansen proved yet again that her eye for energy flow was sharp. She had a whole new set of proposed modifications for the new situation we found ourselves in.

Below are problems – and proposed solutions – from those conversations. Hansen’s advice for these contrasting cafés is based on the principles of Feng Shui, as well as her work in landscape architecture and interior design. You will find many useful nuggets that can be applied to any coffee shop, restaurant, hotel lobby and more.

These design tips can also make a powerful impact on revenue. They’re so easy to implement, you might notice immediate improvements in customers’ energy and spending.

Before we dive in, it’s important to understand the concept of Yin and Yang. In Feng Shui, balancing Yin and Yang elements is essential in optimizing energy flow. Yin addresses softness and warmth with dark colors, comfy textures, and curves. Yang is associated with brightness, bold patterns, angular structure, and slick surfaces.

You need a bit of both to make guests feel the good vibes.

Café #1: Too much Yang, not enough Yin

Sleek, shiny and modern in design, our first coffee shop was full of energy. Don’t get me wrong, energy is a good thing. But too much Yang can create an atmosphere full of chaos and confusion.

Problem: Marble floors and shiny surfaces overwhelm the senses, creating loud echoes as patrons chat.

Solution: Hansen suggests warming up the space with wood accents. The cashier’s counter already has some wood planking, which could be continued through to other parts of the interior, like corners and bottom borders of walls. Soft draping of fabric across the high industrial ceilings will create a cozy, sound-absorbing accent. Windows also provide a perfect opportunity for adding touches of softness with curtains.

Problem: A lack of color – or too much of a specific one – makes the place feel uninviting.

Solution: White walls and neutral floors are modern staples, but they need accent colors to make a space pop. If there’s one dominant color (in this case, the café was almost completely blue), at least include different shades of it. Yin is all about dark colors, and since this space is in a desperate state of too much Yang, deep red textured art or olive rugs could do the trick.

Problem: An open floor plan leaves some guests sitting vulnerable at random tables near the entrance.

Solution: Sitting with your back to the door is usually not a good feeling. Even if guests aren’t aware, it can leave them vulnerable emotionally and physically. Tables in the middle of open spaces feel like they’re floating in the abyss (ever wonder why guests keep asking to sit at the corner booth?). Hansen advises to define spaces with partitions or rugs when possible, and place mirrors on the back wall so guests can see who walks through the door.

Café #2: Yin-heavy in need of Yang energy

Our second coffee shop was a cave of textures, darkness, and comfort. It was definitely the opposite of our first experience. But too much Yin means people aren’t as pulled to come in – when they do, they never seem to leave.

Problem: Wooden shiplap walls and dark red brick accents make the place feel like a sleepy log cabin.

Solution: Having too cozy an atmosphere may not sound like a problem. However, once guests settle in, they will probably stay for hours, leaving less seating available for new customers. Hansen returns to the concept of balance, calling for one of the walls to be painted a bright color with a zigzag pattern that wakes up the eye. Energy can also be increased with angular metal light fixtures. The juxtaposition of modern and rustic will get energy flowing into every corner.

Problem: Fake shrubbery and vines line interior columns. Fake succulents decorate every table.

Solution: It’s important to feature real plants whenever possible, Hansen says. Fake plants are deceiving in Feng Shui, so include living energy in design. On top of that, this company is all about health, so the fake plants pose an even bigger problem because of the incongruent brand messaging. Hansen gives this café a pass on the foliage-lined columns since these would be very difficult to maintain if they were real. But, she says, “they need to opt for real succulents at every table.”

Problem: Tons of open, unused space stands between the main entrance and counter.

Solution: Leaving some open area is a good idea because it encourages “chi,” or lifeforce energy, to flow. The front door, or “mouth of chi,” should have some obstacles, though. This way abundance and prosperity doesn’t flow right in and then escape right out. When your front door opens up to a clear path leading straight to the counter and backdoor, as it was in this case, Hansen suggests creating obstacles of the Yang variety. Bright point-of-purchase displays can guide guests to the counter while still allowing chi to swirl around.

Proper energy design can draw guests to your business, keep them spending, and encourage them to come back and enjoy the experience all over again.