The ancient art of Feng Shui acknowledges the profound affect of color on our physical, emotional and spiritual well being. According to Feng Shui, colors are connected to the five elements from the natural world — fire, earth, metal, water and wood — and play a significant role in balancing our living spaces.
This is called the Five Elements theory and it is at the foundation of Feng Shui and Chinese medicine. These elements also have objects, shapes, seasons, body organs, chakras and colors connected to them, but the color component is often the most powerful.
Listed below are the main rooms of the home and the best wall color choices for them, according to Feng Shui principles. Keep in mind there are other schools of Feng Shui, which may differ. This list comes out of the Western Form School philosophy which is the one that I write about and teach.
Use these suggestions as guidelines only. Pay attention to your intuition. The colors you feel passionately about are most likely the ones that you actually should surround yourself with. Make sure the colors you choose are the ones that make your heart sing!
- Best colors: Earth tones, flesh tones pastels including light sages and colors that are more muted.
- Don’t recommend: Bright colors, fiery colors such as bright reds, purples, pinks or oranges. Dark colors such as black, brown, greys, navy blue or dark green are also not recommended.
- Why? Bedrooms should be calm spaces to promote rest and rejuvenation. The earth element is best in bedrooms to support being grounded. Too bright colors are too active for bedrooms and too dark colors are too depressing. We want the right amont of restfulness but not to the point that it is depressing. For children’s bedrooms, make sure to NOT paint them purple or pink. Use a more restful sage green and accessorize with the purples and pinks only. These are far too fiery for bedroom wall colors and most likely you will find you child will love the room during the day but won’t want to sleep there at night. See my article on Yin and Yang for a balanced home and Feng Shui for Children’s and Teen’s Rooms
- Best colors: Earth tones, pastels, whites
- Don’t recommend: Blues, dark ‘watery’ colors such as black, grey, navy, dark brown or green
- Why? Bathrooms already have a lot of the water element represented by mirrors along with water from the pipes. More blues adds more water, creating an even greater in-balance. Earth, however, balances the water element in the five elements cycle and brings this very watery room back into elemental balance.
- Best Colors: Earth tones as well as brighter colors
- Don’t recommend: Reds, black, navy blue, grey, dark brown, dark green
- Why? Kitchens should be happy active (Yang) spaces but they also already have a lot of fire and water. The best element to balance both is the earth element represented by earth tones and terra-cottas. These can be bright yellow, golds, rich terra-cotta or any other brighter color. The earth element supports being grounded. In kitchens we are working with fire and knives, which are unsafe. Using colors from the water element such as black, grey, dark blues, greens and browns promote a feeling of un-groundedness, and they can also be too depressing for what should be a more active and happy space.
- Best colors: Earth tones, sage greens, pastels, more muted colors
- Don’t recommend: Reds (unless you want to eat a lot more — red stimulates everything, including appetite!), black, grey, navy blue, dark green or dark brown are also too watery.
- Why? Dining rooms should be calm, peaceful spaces. Earth tones promote groundedness, which is what we need for good digestion. Use any color that is more muted that you love, but make sure it is not a color from the water element such as black, grey, navy blue, dark green or dark brown.The same principles apply here as in bedrooms.
- Best Colors: Brighter colors are fine for these more active (Yang) spaces. Choose any color that you love. White and cream colors are excellent for home offices because they represent the metal element which supports mental clarity.
- Don’t recommend: Darker tones or any color that reflects the water element, which is too floaty and ungrounded.
- Why? Home offices should be more active so that you can get things done. You can use the bolder colors here. This is not the room to be so cozy that all you want to do is curl up and read a book!
Living Room and Family Rooms:
- Same as Bedrooms and Dining rooms. Make them cozy and earthy with more muted colors.
Exercise Rooms, Laundry Rooms, Hallways, Garages, Study Rooms and all other rooms:
- These are all active spaces and can be painted brighter colors. Choose the ones that you love and make your heart sing!
Tone it Down
Best rule of thumb for color is to tone it down two notches. The color you choose on the swatch will not be what shows up on your walls. If you choose one or two colors lighter than that one, this will be closer to the actual color you want.
Be careful with red. The color red comes from the fire element which is meant to stimulate and get things moving. Use it sparingly in the rooms that should be more calming spaces such as bedrooms, dining rooms and living rooms. It is best to use reds for accessories, but not as wall color. If you are passionate about having a red wall, choose a more muted red such as a burgundy or a plum purple.
Live with it First
In working with my clients choosing color for their home, I always recommend they get smaller cans of paint and paint the color choices (I always choose three per room) on large sheets of construction or art paper, then tape them to the walls and move them around. Live with them for several days so you can see what they look like in different light. They may be considerably different during the day than the night.
Painting is a commitment of time as well as finance. Don’t be in a hurry and choose the wrong color. Also remember if it seems too bright for the more active rooms, once you get the furniture in and art up, it will look very different and may work out fine.
The best brand I have found for low VOC and non-toxic paint is Mythic Paint. Check them out and see if you can find a place that carries it near you. Their ultra low odor paint provides the durability and coverage you expect from premium paint without the off-gassing and cancer-causing toxins that continue to emit years after drying.
If you would like a free Five Elements Color map which lists the objects, shapes and colors that represent the Feng Shui five elements, click here, Enjoy!
Erica Sofrina is a nationally recognized Feng Shui teacher, speaker and author and the Founder of the Academy of Feng Shui. She is the author of the book Small Changes, Dynamic Results! Feng Shui for the Western World.