When was the last time you thought about the effect that color has on your life? While appreciating a water-colored sunrise? In the department store, deciding between purple and orange throw pillows? At the kiddie arcade, watching pre-schoolers play in a rainbow pool of balls? Never?
For artists and creative types, color is easily a daily consideration. But no matter your personality, color can exert a world of influence over your day-to-day life. It can help heighten or calm mental activity, encourage particular emotions, and even trigger certain physiological processes. As we engage with different people in a multitude of environments, color is anything but a bystander.
Not surprisingly, color’s powerful influence makes it an essential factor in the Feng Shui equation. That’s because the goal of this ancient practice is to harmonize the energy in a space, such that everyone within the space is supported to their highest well being.
In Feng Shui, color is not only considered from the standpoint of the emotional and psychological, but each of the five Feng Shui elements that work to balance energy — fire, earth, metal, water and wood (live plants) — has an associated color. And although the use of actual elements is best when harmonizing a space, each element can be substituted for by its assigned hue(s).
If you want to do a deep dive into Feng Shui-ing your home or workspace, a traditional Feng Shui master can advise you on where it’s best to place certain elements and colors, based on the year, the direction that your home faces, and a number of other factors. But on a more basic level, knowing how colors affect us in a visceral sense can help you create an environment that’s constantly welcoming and comfortable. Just read on.
Red – Fire Element
Who doesn’t love the color red — the rich, alluring crimson of a red rose, or the seduction of ruby lips? It’s probably easy to guess that red represents the Feng Shui element fire. A powerhouse of a color, red can actually raise blood pressure and increase respiration. Symbolically, it represents passion, ardor and sexual appetite, and all of this makes red incredibly exciting. However, be mindful of how it’s used — you wouldn’t want too much, if any at all, in an area dedicated to relaxation.
Orange – Fire Element
Want to spark creativity? Or maybe turn your low traffic living room into the social gathering place? Look no further than the color orange, which can also represent the fire element. Orange creates a warmth that’s high energy and known to stimulate conversation. (This makes orange a popular color in meeting spaces of creative agencies.) Because orange is a social color, at home it works best in rooms designed for this purpose, such as living rooms and kitchens.
Yellow – Earth Element
Yellow is a cheerful color that may be the next best thing to sunshine. It represents the earth element and can inspire joy and high-spiritedness, while still offering a feeling of grounding. (An added touch of yellow to your room can be a nice tweak if you’ve been feeling a little blue.) However, there is a tipping point – a room with yellow gone overboard, (completely yellow walls, for example), has been known to encourage anger and frustration in adults and excessive crying in infants.
Blue – Water Element
Many of us get away to the beach to be calmed by blue, tranquil waters. In the same way, soft blues in our space help to relax and soothe us, even though we may be miles away from salt and sand. Blue appropriately represents the water element in Feng Shui, and works well in bathrooms and, in moderation, in bedrooms. Deeper blue can promote clarity, so may be a good choice in a room where you want to focus. It can also deter appetite, so too much blue in a kitchen is never recommended.
Green – Wood Element
Ascribing the color green to the wood element may sometimes be confusing, until we remember that the wood element in traditional Feng Shui refers to living plants. (This is opposed to the version of wood that isn’t alive, like a wooden piece of furniture.) And just as living plants spring forth during seasons of re-birth, so does the color green represent renewal, healing, and vitality in nature. It’s a great healing color that works well in just about any room of the home.
White – Metal Element
The color white represents everything that’s clean, crisp, and pure, almost like the air we breathe is fresher when we’re surrounded by it. White represents the Feng Shui element of metal, and a strong theme of white in a room can help quiet the mind and encourage clarity. This is because white gives the brain a rest from bouncing from one distinctly colored object to another. However, all white may be too reminiscent of an asylum, so be sure to incorporate color, even if lighter shades, here and there.
The next time you’re imagining the best colors for your walls, décor or furniture, take a moment to consider your selections from a Feng Shui perspective. It will help you color your way to your ideal space!