is the online portfolio and journal of Australian travel writer Nina Karnikowski.


The idea of how we relate to space has always fascinated me. Perhaps because I’m a Taurus, or perhaps just because I’m a total control-freak Type A personality, I’ve always been super sensitive to my environment.

I’ve been known to walk out of restaurants because the lighting’s bad, or to start rearranging furniture as soon as I walk into a hotel room. I just can’t get comfortable or feel at ease if the flow’s not right.

In feng shui they call this ch’i, the energy that circulates the earth, the atmosphere, and our own bodies. Getting the right flow of ch’i is essential to maintaining physical, environmental and emotional balance. In my feng shui bible, Interior Design with Feng Shui, author Sarah Rossbach says: “The way ch’i carries and fills our bodies indicates our health and destiny, not to mention how we interact in society, how we affect others and our immediate surroundings, and – in the case of world leaders – how we affect the world.”

Simply put, all the elements we surround ourselves with our home ch’i, affect our own ch’i, the energy that makes us who we are and shapes our lives. Which means we can really harness them to make ourselves better functioning humans, and elevate the people and the world around us. As the feng shui masters concluded, if a person changes and balances their surroundings, they can balance and improve their life.

Ritual is also a big part of my days. Each morning begins with a few rounds of tea, incense, journaling, reading and yoga. Indulgent? Yes, but I’m making the most of it while there are no kids around! The spaces I do these in are important, so I’ve carved out some little nooks for myself. Sacred spaces, little churches for the non-believer, that I can escape to when the usual rhythm of life gets a little overwhelming.

My lady cave is one of them, the once rat-infested old feed shed on the farm which we converted at minimal cost where I do my morning writing before it gets way too hot, and sometimes sit for tea and meditation. Upstairs in my little ashram space is another – I love that it’s the highest place in the house and is filled with natural light, which starts to flood in as soon as the sun rises.

They’re quiet, gentle, humble spaces, filled with natural elements. Lots of rugs and cushions, feathers and flowers, plants and crystals, and some of my favourite trinkets from my travels. Surrounding myself with these elements each morning leaves me feeling grounded for the day, held in some way, and ready to take on the world.

You can carve out these spaces wherever you are. They don’t have to be fancy or have loads of money thrown at them. In our Coogee flat, my morning space is a five by two metre corner of the dining room. All you really need is a bit of floor space and some imagination and you can pull something really nurturing together.