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The Feng Shui Of Paired Objects

Feng shui suggests that master bedrooms like paired objects. Feng shui is nothing like Science, but as I’ve said, it’s a reasonable organizing constraint. If you’re going to rely on uncertain principles, and design is uncertain, why not magic?

Some time ago, I found myself compelled to buy two Murano doves. Perhaps I knew my future even then. Now, I’ve taken the birds off the dining table and put them on my chest of drawers.

Murano Doves

I find they’d like some company. Blue preferred.

I have a soft spot in my heart for the most traditional of patterns – Herend china. I particularly like the bunnies.

Pair of blue Herend bunnies

But perhaps more glass instead? When I was a young woman and worked briefly for Sir Cameron Mackintosh, one of his staffers invited us all over for drinks one night. Robert, maybe, was his name? He lived in a flat with his boyfriend, and they decorated with Lalique. It was my first experience with true flamboyance. That I haven’t forgotten.

A pair of fish? They come one at a time, but fish have friends.

Lalique Fish

Available in lustre too, but I don’t think I could go that far. Iridescence worries me, except on Roman glass, Victorian beads, and bubbles blown on the back patio.

Or maybe two blue pigs. Referring to a time at work when I was asked to do what seemed both preposterous and impossible. I told my mentor, “It is as though you are asking me to find (yes) a blue pig.” The task turned out to be useful, and easy enough, like salt and pepper.

Two Blue Delft Pigs For Salt And Pepper

The truth is, High WASP watchers would bite their lips at most of these choices. Feng shui? Too Artsy. Herend bunnies? Too precious. Lalique? Too glossy and curvaceous. The blue pigs, ah, those would be fine. No sentiment in a pig. But hold on, pairs of anything suggest romance! Heaven forbid.

Not to worry. These days I note the internal voices dispassionately. If we want to succumb to tasteful drip and sentiment, we will. #LoveWins, after all.


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51 Responses

  1. I like curating objects around the home; grouping things together (Sylvac bunnies/vases/globes). I’ve never thought of it as Feng Shui but I guess there is a type of balance involved…

  2. Not ever having thought much about the principles of Feng Shui, having pairs in a bedroom makes total sense to me, rather like the old song lyrics “Love and marriage, love and marriage, go together like a horse and carriage”. Not suggesting you keep a horse and carriage in your bedchamber but on the other hand perhaps you could find a miniature pair of those somewhere to put on display.

  3. I’ve long loved this quotation from an interview with a (now deceased) Canadian poet, Alden Nowlan: “I think you have to risk sentimentality if you’re going to write anything that matters because after all sentimentality is very close to the things that genuinely move people — it’s not a falsity but simply an exaggeration.”
    This seems relevant to what you’re getting at with your decorative choices for your bedroom, although perhaps obliquely so . . .

  4. Ah yes! I am nodding as I can visualize those Staffordshire English dogs which we see so often on the mantle piece…
    I don’t think pairs are necessary except for candlesticks on the dining room table.
    I must consider my Ojibwa tamarack duck decoys which started as a pair but seem to be multiplying faster than rabbits…

  5. Oh I do love those turtle doves. I have to admit that I’ve never really thought about feng shui beyond the most rudimentary knowledge of its existence. The same for most Herend or other figurines, although with age I can now acknowledge that sometimes the most surprising things can catch my fancy, so one never knows.

    I have a collection, rather randomly accumulated of Lalique fish. Style-wise they went with nothing in my house, yet they always brought me great joy and occasionally they would come out and swim along the center of my dining table. The fish have been in a box the last few years. Perhaps they need to come out and find a new place to swim. I think I will avoid the lustre versions though. Iridescence, like glitter and bling, makes me nervous.

    1. @Mardel, You have the fish? It seems then I should go twinsies. I have Baccarat butterflies on my eating area credenza – I adjust them just a little bit, now and then.

  6. When I look around my home, I see multiples. Somehow, for me, multiples equates balance. Balance brings calm. These days, I’m all about serenity.

    Love your dove pair.

    1. @Susan Lowell, Serenity is one of the great gifts of imagination, I find. And multiples do make me feel serene too, which I hadn’t realized until you pointed it out.

  7. Wait a minute. High WASPs don’t like Herend or Lalique? That can’t be true, especially the Herend.

    1. @Lorri, It depends on the objects. The Lalique fish is good. Lalique women etched in glass, nervous-making. Herend china, excellent. A pair of bunnies, well, bunnies are awfully adorable which might make us feel sentimental which, well, you know:).

  8. Also, I don’t think your Murano doves want company at all. They don’t need it and all those other things don’t really compliment them in style. Too many objects around them will dilute their beauty and you could end up with a hodge-podge.

    I’ve been looking at too many listings on and man oh man, so many houses are drowning in stuff.

    1. @Lorri, I agree that too many would be bad, but I think one more pair, just to make clear that I am intentionally making pairs, might be a nice grace note. It’s a pretty big room, with very tall ceiling, and a lot of exposed hardwood floor.

  9. I love pairs. Even in live things – I have two dachshunds. I find a calmness in pairing. The doves are beautiful and yes, to another pair or to even more pairs.

    1. @kathy, So interesting – I hadn’t noticed that I find pairs calming until this comment thread educated me. I guess it’s the obverse of always grouping objects you want to enliven a space in threes.

    2. Yes, to the three’s. Can enliven things for sure. Something to think about for different areas of your home.

  10. The Murano is a nice pick up on the pink silk fabric that you are planning to use. I would also choose to let the doves stand alone, but would like to see a pair of wall sconces (lighting) to echo the pairing. Sconces are available in endless styles, modern, traditional, with and without shades etc. They offer the advantage of freeing up space on bedside tables – for eyeglasses, books and water carafes etc. if you are desperate for another pair, think again having two of those little benches at the foot of the bed. Will be interested in seeing the photos.

    1. @kathy, I’ve got a pair of tiered crystal ball lamps on the bedside tables. For additional lighting, I’m considering a Noguchi pendant lamp over the chest of drawers. And yes, also the small benches. Bookends, or maybe Chinese architectural brackets as Parnassus suggests below, could be fun.

  11. Hello Lisa, I have always thought that the special qualities of paired objects are intensified with antiques, items that have traveled linked together through time. In Chinese art, the most common pairs are lions, followed by various finials and architectural brackets, and because of a Chinese good-luck saying, pairs of persimmons.

    1. @Parnassus, Persimmons! That’s fun. How are they portrayed? Ceramics? I haven’t seen that ever, I don’t think. The lions, of course.

  12. I own those Herend Bunnies. I don’t know why High Wasps wouldn’t approve. My friend Zsa Zsa has a museum worthy collection that I covet. I totally believe in Feng Shui. You know all the buildings in HK are built in accordance with the rules right? I loved pairs of stuff. x

    1. @Faux Fuchsia, My tongue is in my cheek! Specifically, however, I am thinking of my father’s sere tastes. I can’t imagine him in a 50 mile radius to patterned china bunnies. Unless they were from the 18th century:). If you own the Herends, and Mardel the fish, the universe is telling me something?

  13. Reading this post, and these comments, makes me realize how much I prefer pairs or small groupings. I still don’t want absolute symmetry, but pairings, yes. It seems this requires greater reflection.

  14. I tend to do groups of three’s, as the un-even number tend to be more “natural”, since rarely we would see a perfect pair of still objects in nature; Like they always say one should plant in odd numbers.
    But I agree that there’s a calming effect to pairs, maybe our desire for long lasting harmonious coupling..??

  15. I love pairs, also. I fought it for years but finally realized that (yes, Kathy!) pairs do make me feel calm. Maybe the “groundedness” on two sides? I don’t know the reason, but I don’t fight myself anymore. So many decades of youth lost to that. I find some pleasant asymmetry by adding a third, non-matching, object. Your doves are splendid. For their growing community, I think my vote goes to the pigs. I like their unexpectedness against the elegance of the doves.
    Love your blog dearly, Lisa.

    1. @Linda, Thank yoy very much. And this: “I don’t know the reason, but I don’t fight myself anymore. So many decades of youth lost to that.” is why the fifties are the best decades so far. xox

    2. Lisa, I’m already in my sixties. Slow learner. (I see there are two of us Lindas replying. I should have distinguished myself from the other: I’ll be Linda G. from now on.)

  16. Your Murano doves are beautiful! I love Herend’s blue elephants. Cobalt Net is another favorite. Pairs are good. Balance. But then I do like things in 3’s. Always exceptions.

  17. I usually go for 3s, but I can see why you’d like the pairs in the bedroom. Much to my surprise I love the Herend bunnies – I never would have expected to say that since I am more typically drawn to design that is more geometric than sentimental. The fish are nice too; they’re small, so a little “lustre” might even be nice.

    1. @MJ, “I never would have expected to say that since I am more typically drawn to design that is more geometric than sentimental.” Me too. I think it’s the geometric patterning that makes them so appealing.

  18. Well, the bunnies are cute. But they will need dusting. Do bunnies have significance for you? Did you have one as a pet when you were a child?

    1. @AK, No significance whatsoever:). And my house is dusty altogether – I have been wondering, why?

  19. ,I have only pairs(yes,two pairs in different apartements) of pigs
    And seven elephants :-)
    It is very interesting,you made me think about it!
    Feng shui,why not?

  20. I like the idea of three pairs – just two pairs I find disquieting. Three pairs of animals I think would be perfect. Perhaps the bunnies and the fish – doves (air) bunnies (land) fish (sea) – I know, I’m insane.

    1. @kathy, But since we are in our 50s and 60s, we can embrace our insanities and love them. And I just might go for all three. Air, land, and water.

  21. I know nothing of Feng Shui, although friends that are knowledgable about such things tell me that I’ve got it, but good. I’m not a fan of “thingies,” unless they have meaning to me, for example, a souvenir from a trip or one given to me by my well-traveled daughter. Do you have to have “thingies” to have good Feng Shui?

    I’ve honestly never had the impulse to purchase glass animals. Singly or in pairs.

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