Color as Expression of 5 Feng Shui Elements

five elements of feng shui

The Spruce / Nusha Ashjaee

One of the ways that feng shui practitioners work with the energy of a space is by using the five elements. The Five Elements system, which comes from Taoism and dates to about 700 BC, describes how different aspects of nature interact with each other and seek to stay in balance.

Each of the five elements (earth, metal, water, wood, and fire) resonates with one another in a predictable way. Noticing the patterns in someone’s life and space, and understanding the relationships between them, can help us figure out what a client needs to come into balance. 

Each of the elements relates to not only a material, but a type of energy that is associated with certain qualities. Often, people and spaces have energy imbalances where one element is particularly weak or dominant, which can create problems. By noticing the patterns in someone’s home or life, feng shui practitioners can apply the five element system to create more harmony and balance. 

If you do find that you need more of a certain element, you can bring it into your home through color. Each element is related to specific colors that can be incorporated into your decor or wardrobe to bring more of that element’s qualities into your life. 

Read on to learn more about each of the five elements, why you need them, and how to bring them into your space with color. 

The Earth Element

Earthy yellow pot on a stove
Italic / Unsplash 

Earth is related to overall well-being, self-nourishment, and boundaries. It is stable, grounding, and reliable. You may need more earth if you are feeling ungrounded or anxious, or if you want to focus on self care or creating stronger boundaries. Adding more earth is also helpful if you want to work on being more caring and generous towards others.

To enhance the earth element with color, add earth tones, like yellow, orange, or brown. There are many ways to do this, depending on your decor and style preferences. It can be as subtle as adding a brown rug in your bedroom to ground your space, or as bold as an earthy yellow statement couch in your living room. You can also start with something smaller, like a brown terracotta flower pot.  

The Metal Element

bedroom with white walls and gray accents
R ARCHITECTURE / Unsplash

Metal is related to beauty, joy, and efficiency. It is cold, rational, rigid, and unwavering. Metal is also connected to speech, and how we are able to speak up for ourselves and what is right. If you don’t have enough metal, you may have a hard time articulating your thoughts or finding your voice. 

To activate metal qualities through color, bring in white, grays, and metallic colors. White or light gray walls are an effective way to introduce the metal element, and they are also a great neutral backdrop for artwork and other decor. There are also a lot of fun metallic decor options, like chairs for your kitchen or office, that can be a stylish way to add more metal to your home. If you want to add metal on a smaller scale, look for metallic planters or bookends, or small metal sculptures.

The Water Element

wood kitchen with black backsplash
Jean-Philippe Delberghe / Unsplash

Water is associated with wisdom, social life, and career. It is both deep and still, like the ocean, and dynamic and flowing, like a river. Water helps us make connections with others, and can also deepen our wisdom, insight, and intuition. You may want to add more water to your home if you want to increase your social connections, or enhance your intuition. 

Water element colors are black and midnight blue. While such dark colors might be overwhelming in some spaces, they can be beautiful and impactful as an accent wall. You can also introduce them in smaller ways in throw pillows, artwork, or picture frames. 

The Wood Element

green and blue themed living room
Steven Weeks / Unsplash

Wood is related to flexibility, kindness, and healing. It represents growth and progress. You might need to bring in more wood energy if you want to create more growth or a new beginning in some area of your life. 

Wood is connected to green, blue, and teal. These can all be beautiful and healing color choices for walls as well as curtains. Another great way to introduce the wood element is through healthy green plants. 

The Fire Element

Red door on a townhouse entry.
Chastity Cortijo / Unsplash

Fire represents fame, inspiration, and our visibility. It’s also related to our passion and emotional expression. Keeping your emotions inside and swallowing your feelings may be signs that you need more fire energy.

To add fire through color, go for reds and fiery oranges. If you’re comfortable with these colors (or if you’re not, and you want to challenge yourself!), you can look for a red chair or table for a bold pop of color. For something a little more subdued, try a throw blanket on your couch, or artwork with fiery colors. You may want to keep these colors out of any rooms where you intend to relax and be refreshed, though, as they can be very intense and stimulating!