Many people are familiar with the basic tenets of Feng Shui: make your entryway enticing, remove clutter and position your desk in a “power position.” Looking deeper, however, it is easy to get lost in a mystical maze of Chinese Horoscopes and Magic Numbers.
Fear not, there are ways to gain a fuller understanding of the ancient Taoist art without even knowing if you’re a Dragon, Snake or a Rabbit. Feng Shui breaks down the energy of our environment into five easy-to-understand elements. Each one symbolizes areas of our personal growth as well as commonly understood interior design themes.
Read on to see how the Feng Shui elements of Earth, Metal, Water, Wood and Fire can help you create a home environment that bolsters joy and creativity.
Earth—The Power of Stability
In our personal lives: Earth represents stability and connection with our inner strength. It is the confidence you feel from reaping the rewards of past accomplishments and appreciating life in the present.
In our homes: An earth-centered room is full of the colors of soil: browns, yellows and reddish oranges. It is also brought into rooms through square shapes such as tiles or bricks. The tile backsplash, beige walls, and stucco ceilings all bring out the earth element in our homes. For another way to add the sounds of the earth element, try hanging a ceramic chime in your space.
Best room: Earth is most commonly found in living rooms and dens.
Do Mix With:
The Metal Element—An excellent way to add productive energy to earth is by incorporating the metal element, which is present in metal ware and rounded shapes. Try adding an interesting metal sculpture to an earth-dominated room to give it energy while maintaining the feeling of strength and solidity inherent in earth.
Don’t Mix With:
The Wood Element—In the Feng Shui destructive cycle, wood burdens earth, overwhelming earth’s stability with the raucous growth inherent in the wood element. Wood is manifested in greens and rectangles, and when juxtaposed with the squares and brown hues of Earth, it can make both seem drab and burdensome.
Metal—Creativity in Action
In our personal lives: The Metal Element acts as a conductor for the soul, connecting our industriousness to our creative energy. It manifests itself in our lives with attention to detail and acts of thoughtful creation. When we feel compelled to cook something special for a loved one or design a space to foster our creativity, the metal element is in play.
In our homes: Metal is present in all things metallic, as well as the colors grey and white. Rounded, ergonomic shapes, and anything else that seems manmade, bring out the metal element in a room. Modern art, stylish chairs, clocks, and metal trim all add metal energy to a room.
Best room: Metal is most commonly found in kitchens and bathrooms, but also makes for a good workshop or playroom.
Do Mix With:
Water—The water element compliments metal dominated rooms by casting a magical aura of coolness and reflection on their productive energies. To add water to a metallic room, use dark blues or blue-grey as a backdrop, and try a wallpaper with an interesting, free-flowing pattern. The peaceful babble of a fountain or fish tank also creates a reflective atmosphere in rooms with a strong metal element.
Don’t Mix With:
Fire—In the Feng Shui destructive cycle, fire melts metal. A room with a strong metallic presence does not need any more of the energy that comes from the fire element. Be careful not to add too many reds or sharp, triangular shapes to a room full of the industrial shapes and tones of metal. Mixing these two is a sure recipe for a room that is caustic and unpleasant to be in.
Water—The Birth of Creativity
In our personal lives: Water is the element of reflection, brooding creativity, and deep inner peace. The Chinese tradition states that all beautiful things originally come from a place of stillness and darkness, making the inclusion of the water element important in your home and your life.
In our homes: Water itself, be it a fish tank or a small fountain, is the best way to add water to a room. For color schemes, dark blues and blacks bring out the water element in our home, as does stained glass or any glass ornaments that have depth. Since it is formless, no shape represents water, but it is represented in meandering patterns and structures that have been expanded in a haphazard fashion.
Best room: Meditation rooms and studies are great spaces to bring out the water element.
Do Mix With:
Wood—Wood is the element that symbolizes the natural consequence of reflection: growth, and therefore is a good addition to water rooms. The greens of the wood element can give an uplifting feel to the brooding water element while still allowing it to maintain its aura of peace and reflection. Wood also adds columns and rectangles to the vast shapelessness of water, providing a frame-like stability in the midst of water’s introspection.
Don’t Mix With: Earth
The Feng Shui teachings tell us earth absorbs water. In water rooms, which are places for deep, free roaming reflection, it is inhibiting to add the solidity of earthen tones to the environment. A room full of mystical water energy is severely diminished by the solid and square shapes of the earth element, and the blues and blacks of water become muddled when mixed with the browns and yellows that makeup earth.
Wood—Growth and Harmony
In our personal lives: The wood element represents optimism and renewal in our lives. Enthusiasm for family and career is embodied in wood. This element encapsulates our spirits’ enthusiasm and joy, an area of our lives important to foster and to protect. The thoughtful incorporation of a wood space in your home will give the positive energy that propels you ahead in your relationships and in your career.
In our homes: In Feng Shui tradition, wood is embodied in the shapes of the forest, tall rectangles and columns reaching for the sky, and the colors of vegetation, fresh greens and wooden tones. Live plants and wooden furnishings add wood to a room.
Best room: The wood element is commonly seen in entryways, hallways, and in getaway spaces.
Do Mix With: Fire
Fire, which is the most energetic of the elements, offers and focus and affirmation for the positive flow of wood. Nothing looks more inviting than a red rug on a wooden floor, or rouge upholstery in a room full of wooden furnishings. Fire brings out the glow in the wood and shows its possibilities.
Don’t Mix With: Metal
The Feng Shui cycle has metal symbolically cutting wood. In our homes, we can see how the domed and man-made shapes of metal are out of place in the organic and vertical shapes of wood. The lush greens from plants are also not complimented by the shiny tones of metal. Keep these two separate to allow wood spaces their freedom.
Fire—Raw Passion and Energy
In our personal lives: Feng Shui considers all of our energy to come from the sun, the heart of the fire element. Fire represents our passion, forward-moving energy, and productivity.
In our homes: The fire element is an excellent include for workshops or office spaces as it allows creative energy to manifest itself in the physical world. Create it by adding reds, oranges, and actual fire in the form of fireplaces or candles to your space. Fire can create warmth in communal rooms, giving our connection with family and friends a fuel that empowers our relationships.
Best room: It is also a highly desirable element for bedrooms.
Do Mix With: Earth
An excellent companion to fire is earth ware. The brick fireplace is an iconic example of this match, as are the reddish tones that frequently adorn ceramics. We add the productive energy of fire to our lives because we crave stability, and that is exactly what the earth element provides. Brown hues, bricks, or square patterns are a natural backdrop for a room dominated by fire.
Don’t Mix With: Water
It is easy to understand how water and fire represent two different aspects of the creative process, and they are better off kept separate. In a fire room, with its focus on productivity and passion, water’s aimless energy comes off as distracting rather than peaceful. The babble of a fish tank or fountain can be irritating in a productive environment, and the dark blues and blacks from water can make the reds of the fire element seem distressing rather than invigorating.
Now that you understand the basics of Feng Shui’s five elements, assess your own rooms to see where you may have productive or destructive combinations. Let us know what you find, and if you’re comfortable, please share some images of your success with us on Instagram, FB and Twitter.