From bedrooms and backyards to boutique hotels and bathrooms, Feng shui is the practice of balancing energy with the precise placement of objects.
Feng Shui and Its Benefits
Feng shui can be applied to where buildings are situated and where items inside those buildings, i.e. plants, furniture, doors, find a home. But how did this practice originate, and what are its benefits?
The Practice of Feng Shui
Feng Shui is a Chinese term, and it translates to mean wind-water in English. It is classified as a pseudoscientific method of harnessing energy, and is also known as geomancy. The ancient application of feng shui relied on astronomy for determining the proper positioning of tombs and homes. Today, magnetic compasses can assist in the implementation of feng shui, ushering this ancient practice into the modern era.
The History of Feng Shui
It is believed feng shui can be traced to Taoism, a belief that everything has chi, or life force. Life forces can be balanced to bring harmony into one’s life, and feng shui attempts to achieve that balance with specific arrangements of belongings. Historians aren’t sure exactly when feng shui originated, but there is evidence that the Chinese relied on feng shui as far back as 4000 BC.
Important Elements of Feng Shui
Are you familiar with the five elements of Earth, fire, metal, water, and wood in design? Feng shui can be adjusted by adding or removing any combination of these elements in an indoor or outdoor space. Everything we use to build or decorate our homes, office places, or even schools, can be classified as one of those elements. Some people prefer to design separate rooms in their homes with an emphasis on one element in an effort to harmonize the dwelling as a whole.
When it comes to which direction a building faces, where your bed is located in your room, and even where the stove sits in the kitchen, the Bagua map is your guide. It maps out the eight areas of your space that equate to aspects of your life. If you want to balance one of those areas, you can adjust what you have, and where it is. The five elements of feng shui (Earth, fire, metal, water, and wood) relate to the Bagua areas and can be used to minimize or magnify each.
- Family (wood element)
- Wealth (wood element)
- Helpful People (metal element)
- Children (metal element)
- Knowledge (Earth element)
- Fame (fire element)
- Career (water element)
- Partnerships (Earth element)
Earth Element of Feng Shui
The Earth element is meant to bring stability into your space. This benefit can be achieved with the use of certain colors, images, or raw materials:
- Depictions of the ox, dragon, goat, or dog
- Earthy colors such as brown, beige, dark green, grey, red and yellow
- Flat, square shapes
- Symbols of the tiger or rabbit zodiac signs
- Practical items that promote the use of logic and reasoning (i.e. puzzles)
When designing a space in regard to the Earth element, everything should have a place and a purpose. Tidy and uncluttered spaces reflect strong Earth energy, and can bring feelings of contentment into a room.
Fire Element of Feng Shui
The fire element can bring passionate energy into a space. It can relate to creativity or being able to express emotion. You may need to bring more fire into your space, or reduce it to find better harmony in your life. Ways to do so include the following:
- Fiery reds and oranges
- Triangle, geometric shapes
- Symbols of the ox or pig zodiac signs
- Light sources such as candles and fireplaces, or dimmer switches for existing lighting
- Keeping a clean stove/oven
The fire element is associate with summer, so if you need more of it, you could create the perfect outdoor living space for use in the summer, or replicate the look indoors.
Metal Element of Feng Shui
The energy of the metal element is efficiency, precision, and beauty. It is connected to speech, and the right balance can promote our ability to speak our truths and speak up for what is right. If your thoughts are often scattered, you may need more metal in your feng shui design.
- Grey, white, or metallic colors
- Metallic finishes on furnishings
- Circular shapes
- Symbols of the snake or horse zodiac signs
Get creative with this element; since it is linked to being able to speak up for ourselves, you may want to incorporate art or books by or about strong people in history. Decorate your walls, shelves, or coffee table with inspirational portraits, memoirs, or figures that represent people you look up to.
Water Element of Feng Shui
It’s important to have a good balance of water energy in the home or workplace to help cultivate wisdom, flexibility, and insight. Water represents being able to go with the flow and can be brought into a space with a number of design elements.
- The color black
- Curvy shapes
- Water features with waterfalls or a downward flow
- Pet fish
- Symbols of the dragon or rat zodiac signs
- Humidifier (or dehumidifier if you have an overabundance of humidity)
Whatever you decide to use, focus on a good flow throughout the home. Allow for clear pathways, good lighting, and less rigidity in your fixtures. Incorporate soft textiles, organic shapes, and water-related imagery.
Wood Element of Feng Shui
Last, but not least, we come to the wood element. This energy can boost or reduce kindness, encourage or discourage growth, and affect vitality. You can see how important it is to thoughtfully balance wood energy in the home. Try doing so by taking stock of the following, and editing if necessary:
- Green, blue, or teal colors
- Columns and rectangular shapes
- Symbols of the goat, rooster, monkey, or dog zodiac signs
- Living plants inside
- Living plants outside your home
- Spring-related elements such as citrus (scent or imagery), new relationships, new birth
- Actual wood or faux bois furnishings or artwork
Since one of the defining features of the wood element is height, see if you can balance this energy with tall bookshelves inside or tall trees outside. Can you install curtains up higher to give the illusion of space in a room, or are there too many vertical elements overwhelming your home already? To bring better balance, implement metal and Earth elements sparingly with wood elements.
Pairing Feng Shui Elements
Speaking of using elements together, let’s take a look at how the five elements work together to create balance.
- Water nourishes the wood element
- Wood feeds the fire element
- Fire creates the Earth element
- Earth can become the metal element
- Metal can nourish the water element
When attempting to maximize the feng shui of your home, do so in small increments. Tackle one Bagua at a time, focusing on two or three elements. Trying to juggle more than that can be overwhelming, and create more work for you in the long run.