Even if you’re someone who’s been known to leave dirty dishes piling up in the sink longer than you’d like to admit or have laundry spewing all over the place, you may well still like to live in a home that feels put together. The five guiding elements of feng shui can help you there, both aesthetically and energetically, to assert a sense of control and composure over your space. Feng shui, the ancient Chinese art of placement, calls upon the elements of water, Earth, fire, metal, and wood to bring a loving respect of nature—and it’s been holding strong for thousands of years.
“In those [ancient] times, people took into consideration where the sun rose, where the sun set, the situation or positioning of the home, and the land around it,” says Patricia Lohan, feng shui expert and author of The Happy Home: Your Guide to Creating a Happy, Healthy, Wealthy Life. “Home-building was intentional; everything was done with powerful intention. What feng shui did was to bring that intention into people’s environment, and into their homes.”
And it’s probably safe to say that one home-specific intention we’d all like to set right now is to create a harmonious space in an otherwise chaotic world. Below, learn the basic five elements of feng shui, and use the learnings to shift the energy in your home to become more magnetic to joy, love, pleasure, abundance, and success.
There are 5 elements of feng shui, and each is important
The five elements of feng shui work best as a chorus rather than as a solo performance—meaning you really do need all of them.
“Oftentimes, when we feel out of balance in our home, it’s because one or more of the elements are missing, or there’s too much of an element.” —Jen Boyd, feng shui consultant
“Oftentimes, when we feel out of balance in our home, it’s because one or more of the elements are missing, or there’s too much of an element,” says Jen Boyd, feng shui consultant. “An environment with all five elements feels calm and peaceful, and the five elements are…essential to balancing your body and your environment.”
To create this balance, before starting any design project, examine what area of your life is lacking. Feeling creatively unstimulated? Are your nerves always racked with stress? There’s no doubt a feng shui element that can up-regulate the energy you need most.
So if your space (or you, yourself) feels out of sync, consider the following quick rundown of each of the five elements of feng shui. Then, learn how to incorporate each into your home.
How to incorporate each of the 5 elements of feng shui into your home
Water is associated with abundance, prosperity, movement, cleansing, purification, and the flow of emotions. When it comes to representing water in your space, place your focus on calming ponds over violent tidal waves.
“To bring water element into a home, try adding a water features,” Lohan says. “That includes touches of blue, items that are curved, and images of water that are soothing; I wouldn’t recommend stormy-water images.”
Fire is a power element tied to action, passion, and fame. It’s wonderful for attracting clients, improving your social life, and supports getting your light out in the world. While it’s important to balance each element and not have an excess of any, Lohan warns especially against playing with fire, because it can elevate strong creative energy but, in excess, it can make you burn out fast.
“I would minimize the color red, which represents the energy of fire. Just like a real fire, it can cause a lot of damage, go out of control, and be very dangerous,” Lohan says. “Too much fire can irritate people in the home.”
Earth is associated with stability and security in both relationships and business. Unsurprisingly, it’s there to keep you grounded and safe. Lohan recommends that you bring Earth tones (primarily creams and browns) into your decor. And if you’re not super into neutrals, crystals are another great way to incorporate Earth into the space.
Metal is associated with focus and clarity, and it assists with health, wealth, and love. You can implement it by leaning on both brassy tones and also softer shades.
“You can work with adding any pastels into your decor palette or metallic furniture—gold and silver tones,” Lohan says. “This can be done with cushions, throws, or artwork.”
A little different than the Earth element, wood in feng shui focuses on the flourishing flora of nature. It’s symbolic of new life, growth, expansion, creativity, and health.
“To bring wood element into the home is adding some real plants or incorporating green tones into a space,” says Lohan. “I love the jade plant also known as the money plant—or lucky bamboo—as it is really easy to look after. I don’t recommend artificial plants in a space, as they attract stagnant energy”
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