An Introduction to Using Color in Feng Shui - Part 1

A Introduction to Using Color in Feng Shui.jpeg

Colors are some of the most important elements in creating holistic, nurturing spaces. The colors in our spaces can affect us, both emotionally and physically, and not all colors produce the same effect, based on our individual personalities. In feng shui, each color or color family also represents certain emotions and areas on the bagua map.

If you're working to adjust the energy in your home, office or school, take a look at color characteristics and give some thought to which ones are most appropriate for your personal needs. 

Greens, Teals and Blues

Greens, teals and shades of blue are related to the Wood element and the New Beginnings area of the feng shui bagua and associated with hope, new beginnings and growth. If you're looking for a calming space or one that supports healing, whether physically or emotionally, these colors are for you! 

Greens and blues invoke the energy of nature and can be very refreshing (think brighter colors) as well as promote rest (think lighter, softer hues). To incorporate these colors into your space, try painting a wall with a carefully selected shade, adding green plants or placing a Jade stone in the New Beginnings area of your space. 

Purples and Violets

Just as greens and blues are symbolic of healing and growth in feng shui, the color purple is associated with wealth, abundance and often elegance and royalty. It's a very auspicious color in feng shui and can be used to attract wealth or self-worth. 

As a combination of two very strong colors (passionate red and calming blue), purple has great potential to balance you and your space and bring harmony and peace to both. 

To bring some purple to your home or office and promote abundance, use an appropriate shade of purple or add amethyst crystals or purple flowers

Yellows, Oranges and Browns

Shades of yellow, orange and brown are representative of the qualities of nature. Deep, earthy, pale and neutral tones are generally calming and nurturing, but brighter colors, and especially shades of yellow, may be too stimulating for a relaxing atmosphere. 

If you're thinking of adding these colors to your space, remember to save brighter, more intense shades of orange and yellow for areas like the kitchen (to arouse appetite) or the center of your home (to activate the Health area in the feng shui bagua). 

There are, of course, many more colors on the color wheel, and we'll cover them all over the next few months, so stay tuned! In the meantime, you can find details on the feng shui symbolism of each color in my book, "108 Ways to Create Holistic Spaces." 

by Anjie Cho


5 Tips to Incorporate The Comeback of Feng Shui

featured this week on New York Spaces

When I told my parents that I started studying feng shui, they laughed! My mom exclaimed, "Feng shui is old fashioned folklore!" But feng shui is making a comeback. In fact, 86% of Chinese Americans think feng shui will play a role in a future home buying decisions, according to a recent survey conducted by Better Homes and Gardens® Real Estate and the Asian Real Estate Association of America. And 49% are more likely than their parents to take feng shui into account when deciding on a home. Maybe I was onto something early on.

I would agree that feng shui suffers from a common misconception involving tacky, Asian-style black and red lacquer furniture, but that's not at all what feng shui is about. That's just a visual style that's associated with feng shui; the concepts rise above the outdated superficial execution. So, what is feng shui really about then? Feng shui is an ancient philosophy that uses environmental psychology that seeks to enhance our lives through our physical spaces.

The short version of my story is that at a turning point in my life, I decided to incorporate holistic wellness into my daily lifestyle. This included yoga and meditation. I needed to find some peace and slow down from my fast-paced life. Sound familiar? I think many of us can relate to this. As a practicing licensed architect, I quickly yearned to include this holistic system into my design practice.

Architects and designers, we love to create beautiful spaces. That's what we're good at, and it's fairly easy. But to design environments that resonate with the inhabitants, or can improve our lives—that's the challenging part. Feng shui gives us tools and guidelines to make that a reality, which goes on to make a difference when it comes to selling and buying the home. In fact, that same study from Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate found that 90% of Chinese Americans believe feng shui increases a home's resale value.

With this in mind, here are some easy ways to incorporate feng shui into your home (whether you're just looking for a new aesthetic or staging to attract potential buyers) without doing a complete re-design. You may just find a harmonious balance in your life as a result.

1. Clear the clutter. It's ideal for cabinets to reach the ceiling. If they don't, try placing living plants or items of personal value above.

2. Know where to put mirrors. It's important that mirrors are placed away from the bed in the bedroom. And a full-length mirror in the bathroom is usually key. Plant-life next to the mirrors encourages a better qi flow from water to earth to metal to wood.

3. Keep your color wheel on hand. Colors are a vital part of feng shui design. Consult your color wheel when designing the kitchen, especially as bright colors like red and orange work well there.

4. Free the bed. Feng shui principles dictate that the bed should be accessible from all angles. If it's not, move it to the center of the wall. Make sure the bed is not directly facing the door.

5. Embrace your green thumb. Those who practice feng shui will look for the presence of live plants, particularly in balance with other elements. Because bathrooms are keepers of water energy, placing earthy elements throughout can help create a balance.

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by Anjie Cho


Six Tips to Picking the Right Paint Color

Think back to the last time you painted a room in your home. Odds are you spent more time then you thought possible combing through color swatches in the paint department. You brought home a pocketful, or more, and taped them up on the wall to ‘live’ with them for a few days. Maybe more than a few days. Perhaps you’re still considering those swatches today. 

It doesn’t have to be that way. Here are 6 tips to picking the right paint color for your space.

Get inspired

With all the colors of the rainbow (and then some) at your fingertips, starting with swatches in a paint shop will quickly overwhelm you. Instead, do your homework first. What rooms and styles appeal to you in magazines or on Pinterest? Do you have a favorite piece of furniture or accent piece that you’d like included in the room? Build a color scheme off that item. 

Get in touch

How do you use the room you’ll be painting? What mood do you want to invoke? A bedroom, for example, is well suited to subdued calming hues. If you’re painting a child’s playroom or a den, however, you may want to select something more vibrant and energizing. You can also look at the meanings of the colors based on feng shui or color psychology. My book 108 Ways to Create Holistic Spaces goes through feng shui color theory.

Frame it

Your paint color will be influenced by the things around it. If you place a color sample on a white wall, for example, the color will appear darker than it may eventually look spread throughout the entire room after you paint. Instead, hold the color sample up against your flooring and your furniture. 

Shine a light

Sometimes a color that looks like absolute perfection in the store seems to look muddy and uninspired when you get it home. Was it your misguided enthusiasm for the hue in the shop? No, it’s more likely a matter of lighting. Make sure to look over those paint swatches at different times of day. Also take a look at the color in different areas of the room. 

Think outside the walls

Take into consideration existing finishes – flooring, furniture, and even other rooms within your line of sight. How does your intended paint color work with those elements?

Be open to neutral

If you’re still wavering on the right color, consider going with a neutral. Today’s options go beyond varying shades of white. Neutrals like brown and grey are trending. When you go this route, incorporate pops of personality and color with accessories. Not only will you have more flexibility with color choice when you introduce it through a chair or pillow, you can also change your color-loving mind more easily and cost effectively whenever the whim hits you.

by Anjie Cho


The World's Favorite Color: 50 Shades of Blue

Thinking about using blue in your home? You’re not alone. The color of water and sky is universally popular.  Blue is consistently regarded as the color most people prefer. 

Blue is a complex and sometimes contradictory color, yet it is rich with rewards — if you know how to use it.  There are many shades of blue, so which do you choose?

The Many Moods of Blue

Finding the right blue is determined by matching the tone or shade to the occasion. Let’s explore some of blue’s moods so that we can find the right shade of blue for you and your room.   

• On the dark end of the spectrum, blue invokes trust, intelligence, and authority. 

• A bright blue, in the middle of the spectrum, can suggest cleanliness (thanks to associations with water), strength, or dependability. 

• At the light end of the spectrum, a ‘sky’ blue can inspire feelings of serenity and calm. 

If you’re thinking about how you can use blue, let’s talk first about the room in question and match the use of that room with specific characteristics of blue.  

Putting Blue to Work for You 

When choosing blue for a space, be sure that the room’s function matches the color’s tone. 

If the room is one in which mental stimulation is required, like an office, try a brighter blue – on the darker end of the spectrum. It will help to create an engaging and dynamic mood for the room. From a color psychology perspective, blue is reliable and responsible, so if you want to take on those qualities, work in a darker blue room.

If you have a room in which calm or peace is desired (bathroom, yoga or meditation room), opt for a light ‘sky’ blue. Pale blue can actually lower pulse rate and body temperature, evoking feelings of relaxation. There’s a reason that so many spas include blue in their color palettes!

If you are thinking of painting your kitchen or dining room blue, remember the physical effects of this color.  Because it relaxes the body and lowers pulse rate, it is also reducing metabolism. So food may not taste as good in a blue room. And since blue is rarely seen in fruits and vegetables, it is not thought of as an appetizing color. If blue is your choice for eating areas, try placing blue accessories around the room: rugs, seat cushions, placemats, plates, glassware, vases and flowers. You may find that this is ‘blue enough’ for you.

From ‘blue ribbon’ prizes and IBM’s supercomputer Deep Blue, to the Blue Room in the White House, there are many great reasons for using this soothing color.

by Anjie Cho


Designers Reveal Their Go-To Neutral Paint Colors

featured this week on About.com, by Diana Hathaway Timmons

If you find yourself overwhelmed when trying to choose a neutral paint color, knowing which colors have been successfully used by top designers, can be a perfect solution. Get inspired by the top designers in this gorgeous slideshow of their "go-to" neutral colors. - Diana

"Benjamin Moore's Simply White is currently my go to for walls. It's a soft warmish white, that's neutral -- not too yellow or creamy, yet not too cool and blueish. It's also great in semigloss for mouldings."

"If you want a neutral grayish blue, without looking too depressing, or pastely -- My go to is Benjamin Moore's Mt. Rainier Gray. It's refined and elegant enough for a living or dining room, but also great for bedrooms and kids room. I've never had a client NOT love it after they put it up. It works in most lighting conditions and gives a little bit of color without a lot of commitment. It's super easy." -Anjie Cho

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by Anjie Cho