What Do Colors Mean in Feng Shui?


Color combining can be confusing when you're flying blind, but if you're decorating according to feng shui principles, you won't be doing that. Color is a well-discussed topic in feng shui -- the Chinese art of space harmonization -- and each hue has a particular meaning and best use. Colors have more than aesthetic value -- they imply directional, elemental and spiritual characteristics that are all important to consider when optimizing the flow of chi.

The Feng Shui Bagua

  • To understand color in feng shui, it helps to understand the bagua, an octagonal arrangement of trigrams that serves as a type of compass. The bagua depicts the eight directions, and each direction is associated not only with a color, but with a station in life, a season, an element, a family member, a personality type and even a sacred animal. Colors in feng shui are inextricably linked to all these other natural aspects through the bagua, which is often used as a map to determine the best way to arrange and decorate a room to ensure a harmonious flow of good energy, or chi.

Color and Direction

  • More than one bagua, or arrangement of trigrams, exists, but in the one that most contemporary feng shui practitioners use, south is at the top, representing the fire principle. Red is the color of the south, while that of north, the water direction, is deep blue. East, the direction of wood, is represented by green, and west, the metal direction, is white. Southwest is the direction of earth, and its color is magenta, while southeast is the wind direction, represented by purple. The northwest is the direction of mountains, and its color is teal; the northeast is the direction of heaven, represented by gray.

Color Characteristics

  • Each direction is associated with a station of life: South represents fame and recognition; north represents career; east represents family; west, creativity and children. The colors of the directions thus invoke these life stations as well as an aspect of personality, such as the joyousness of green, the clarity of white and the profundity of deep blue. Each color thus connotes a wealth of characteristics, and when you choose a color for your living room or kitchen, you bring all these characteristics into the space. Thus, color combining begins with a consideration of directions, but it doesn't end there. Among other things to consider are personalities of the people in the space and their hopes aspirations, as well as general aesthetic factors, such as lighting and decor.

Balancing Energies

  • Feng shui consultants use color to balance energies. For example, a living room that faces north may need the vitality of wood to balance the deep, watery energies that the north connotes. The addition of white brings clarity into the space, and red brings passion -- in general, it's a good idea to represent all the elements in any room, although you don't have to do it with color. For example, a kitchen, which through its use is already associated with metal and water, can become more grounded if the walls are painted with earth tones. Adding a live plant, which represents the wood element, would bring vitality, and red hues on the cabinets or countertops would ignite the energy of fire.

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