Colors for Earth, Air, Fire and Water

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Fire is the classical element that represents optimism and energy.
Fire is the classical element that represents optimism and energy. (Image: Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images)

In many world philosophies, including ancient Greece and Egyptian, there are four main elements that are thought to form the basis for the natural world. These classical elements are earth, air, fire and water, each symbolizing different forces in nature. Homeowners often draw inspiration from these classical elements to decorate their homes and tap into the energy that these elements represent. In fact, each of the elements is represented by specific colors, which can form the palette of your home's decor.

Earth: Green and Brown

Earth is the classical element that represents constancy, security and physical power. The colors used to symbolize these characteristics are green and brown, with green representing the earth’s grass and brown representing the earth’s soil. Green is a cool tone while brown is a neutral shade so the two can be paired together in a room to incorporate the earth element. When decorating, consider using brown as the room’s primary color. Because it is a darker tone, it can make green accent pieces stand out. When drawing inspiration from the earth element, add accessories that feature rock, stone, wood, crystal, iron, ceramic and other natural materials or place potted plants throughout the space.

Air: Yellow and White

In classical elemental theory, air represents logic, reason and intellect, as well as creativity and enlightenment. Yellow and white are traditionally used to represent this element. Yellow is a bright, energetic shade while white symbolizes a sense of purity. In decorating, white helps balance the brighter yellow tones but still allows them to shine as the room’s focal point. It is usually best to go with white walls and yellow accent pieces because too much yellow may overwhelm the space. However, a soft shade of yellow or a white tone with a yellow tinge may be an attractive alternative if you prefer a warmer tone for your walls. To further capture the spirit of air, make sure there is a breeze in the room and add wind chimes or a mobile to highlight its movement.

Fire: Red and Orange

Fire is the classical element that represents energy and optimism and is considered the most powerful of the elements. The colors used to symbolize it are red and orange, both warm shades. Red is considered one of the most stimulating colors while orange is a strong, authoritative color. Because these are such bold shades, they are usually not recommended for use in a bedroom, a space that is better suited to cooler, soothing tones. However, these colors are a good match for a living room or dining area and are particularly effective when paired with brick. To incorporate more of the fire element into your décor, add candles and mirrors to reflect the light.

Water: Blue and Pastels

Of the four elements, water is considered the most calming. It represents a sense of cleansing and purity and is meant to symbolize the emotional life. The color blue is used to signify these characteristics, though pastel shades are often incorporated into a water-inspired room as well. With its cool tones, blue is usually a soothing, relaxing shade, making it an ideal color for a bedroom. Like blue, pastel shades, such as lavender and mint green, have a calming effect and can be paired with blue tones for a soft look. To fully incorporate the water element into a room, a water feature is a must, such as a table top fountain or aquarium.

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