A Look at Feng Shui Interior Design

Feng shui interior design techniques seek to arrange your living environment in such a way as to promote the flow of good energy and optimal balance.

Feng shui is a traditional Chinese practice that seeks to balance the yin and yang energy of the five elements through symbols, colors, and furniture placement to achieve the most healthful environment.

You can use feng shui interior design practices in any environment, including offices, public buildings, outdoor spaces, and in the home.

Basic Principles of Feng Shui Interior Design

Basic Principles of Feng Shui Interior Design

These are some simple and practical guidelines that will give you an understanding of foundational feng shui interior design practices.

The Five Elements

The five elements of feng shui are fundamental in achieving a space that has harmony within. The five elements are water, fire, earth, metal, and wood. Each element has its own unique characteristics and energy that you can use to amplify positive aspects of your life. You can represent these elements using symbols, colors, and materials.

  • Water Element – The water element signifies flow, ease, and adaptability in life. You can symbolize the water element by using wavy lines, water features, mirrors, and shades of black, and deep blue.
  • Fire Element – The fire element symbolizes passion, drive, and creativity. You can represent the fire element in your space using candles, fireplaces, artificial lighting, triangular shapes, animal symbols like the dragon and phoenix, and shades of red, orange, and purple.
  • Earth Element – The earth element represents grounding, stability, and nourishment. You can use natural materials such as stone, pottery, wood furniture, earth-toned colors, and square and rectangular-shaped items to symbolize the earth element.
  • Metal Element – The metal element represents clarity, precision, and strength. Use decor, including chimes, metal sculptures, swords, coins, round items, and shades of white and gray to symbolize the metal element.
  • Wood Element – Feng shui practice associates the wood element with growth, flexibility, vitality, and abundance. You can use living plants, vertical lines, columns, and shades of green and brown to represent the wood element.

Using a Bagua Map

The Nine Sections of the BTB Bagua Map

A bagua map is a tool that feng shui designers use to determine the ideal flow of energy throughout a given space. There are several types of bagua maps in feng shui practice. The most common bagua map used in the west comes from Black Sect Tantric Buddhism (BTB).

The BTB bagua is a grid with eight sections that surround a center square. These nine sections represent areas of life such as wealth and prosperity, family, and career. Each of the sections is also associated with one of the five feng shui elements. Feng shui interior designers overlay the bagua map with the layout of a home to determine which area of the map corresponds with which area of the home. You can determine which areas are activated with specific energy and symbols.

The bagua map fits any area, large or small. You can expand it to fit over an entire city or neighborhood or shrink it to fit just one room. When you apply the bagua over just one room, this will show you which part of the room can be activated to promote distinct qualities and characteristics.

Clean the Clutter

Clutter and a disorganized living space block the flow of good energy in your personal space. This can be an overwhelming task for a large space but one that you must endeavor if you want to promote balance in your home.

Start in a small way. Choose just one room or even a small area of one room to begin. Organize and clean this space and then proceed to a larger space. Sort items that you are deciding about into categories: keep, donate, or discard. Use the “one touch” rule. This means that when you pick up an item, make a decision about its future without procrastinating.

Once you have gotten rid of the items that you are no longer using, organize the items you are keeping in a way that will help them to stay organized in the future. This may mean the investment into storage furniture like cabinets, shelves, storage bins, or baskets.

Mindful Furniture and Decor Placement

In feng shui design, furniture placement is key for optimal energy flow. This placement differs for each room, but there are overarching themes that work for every room.

It is essential in each room to consider the purpose and function of the room. You should place the furniture in the room in a way that supports rather than detracts from your goals for the room. Make sure also that you leave enough space between furniture to allow for the optimal flow of energy throughout the room. Balance yin and yang energy in each room. This means that you should vary soft and curvy lines with straight lines and sharp corners.

Keep in mind that each room has a command position. This is the area of the room that allows you to see the entrances into the room. This gives you a sense of safety and security while you are in the room. The dominant piece of furniture in the room should have a commanding position in the room. This piece of furniture will vary depending on the type of room. For example, the primary sofa should be in the command position in the living room, while the bed should be in the command position in the bedroom.

Careful Use of Color

The use of color in interior design affects our mood and state of mind. Feng shui practitioners believe that color affects the flow of energy, which can impact our overall well-being. One of the most important determiners of color in feng shui design is the bagua map. This map corresponds with a particular area and elements. These are associated with specific colors that activate specific energy.

Consult a bagua map to decide on a particular color family for a specific area. Be careful in each room to achieve balance rather than using too much of one color, which will result in imbalance.

Feng Shui Interior Design Ideas for Every Room

Feng shui design principles can be applied to specific rooms. These are general rules but can be altered based on the position of the room in the home according to the bagua map.

Front Entrance

Basic Principles of Feng Shui Interior Design
Jennifer A. Emmer

The front entrance is vital in feng shui practice as this is the area where energy comes into your living space. Make sure this area is clean and clutter-free. Keep the doorway free of any blockages that would hinder the flow of good energy into the home. Use decor to create a warm and welcoming environment. This area on the BTB bagua is associated with the water element, so symbols like water fountains and colors like black and deep blue have particular significance.

Living Room

Basic Principles of Feng Shui Interior Design
Eiko Okura Interior Design and Feng Shui

Use the bagua map to determine which area your living room corresponds with to determine the most optimal color and symbols. Whatever the location on the bagua, you should seek to place your primary sofa in a commanding position. In an ideal feng shui design, the sofa should be positioned against a wall with a direct line of sight to the doorways.

Arrange furniture around the sofa to facilitate the purpose of the room, whether it be conversation or watching TV. Make sure that there is good flow around the furniture. Avoid the excessive use of either curvy or straight lines, but endeavor to create a good balance.

Dining Room

Basic Principles of Feng Shui Interior Design
Janice Sugita

Choose a dining table and chair that fit comfortably in the room so that it is not too empty or too cramped. This will ensure that the flow of energy around the table is good but still feel full enough to be warm and inviting. Use the bagua map to help determine the best material and color for the dining room.

With this in mind, you can choose a particular shaped table and material. For example, if your dining room falls in the center of the bagua this represents the earth element. Use earth-toned colors, wood furniture, and rectangular shapes for optimal energy in this area.


Basic Principles of Feng Shui Interior Design
Dalia Canora Design, LLC

Like the living room, you should make sure to place the primary piece of furniture, the bed, in a commanding position. For the bed, this means that you should place it so that it is visible to the doorways but not directly across from them. Again, it is essential to use a bagua map in order to determine the best element and colors to use in a specific bedroom, but make sure to choose shades that are soothing rather than too energetic.

Feng shui practice discourages the placement of TVs in the bedroom as electronics disrupt sleep. Make the room as inviting as possible with cozy sheets and duvets.


Basic Principles of Feng Shui Interior Design
Janice Sugita

Kitchens are important in feng shui design as the place that provides nourishment and health. In an ideal feng shui design, the kitchen is located at the back of the house, but you can still create good energy without this location.

The stove is the focal point of the kitchen and should be in a command position. Consider adding a mirror above the stove if its position forces you to have your back to the door. Create balance in the kitchen by using the triangle model for your stove, refrigerator, and sink position. This model dictates that the sum of the distance between these three appliances should not exceed 26 feet.

Consider the kitchen’s position on the bagua map to determine the most optimal symbols and colors, but strive for overall balance in the use of the five elements. The kitchen is also an area that attracts clutter. Strive to keep the kitchen organized and clutter free to promote the most positive energy.


Basic Principles of Feng Shui Interior Design
Jennifer A. Emmer

Bathrooms have a negative reputation in feng shui design as they drain positive energy. Therefore, the placement of bathrooms is important. You should not locate a bathroom that you are designing from scratch in the heart of the home, as this can be a drain on vital energy. Even if the bathroom is located in a less-than-optimal place there are other things that you can do to create good energy.

Keep the toilet lid closed to keep energy from draining away. Keep the area light and well-ventilated. This is easier if you have windows in your bathroom. Even if you don’t, ensure that the room has warm and layered lighting to create a soothing atmosphere. Make sure that the room is clean and well-organized as well as fresh-smelling.

Home Office

Basic Principles of Feng Shui Interior Design
Kailey Von Barandy

In most home offices, the most important piece of furniture is the desk. Just like in the bedroom or living room, the desk in a home office should be placed in a commanding position. This means that you should be able to see the doorways from your seat behind the desk. Use a well-positioned mirror if you cannot place your desk in a command position. You should position the mirror so that you can see the door opening from the seat at your desk.

As in every room, make sure that clutter does not build up in your office. Employ a good organization system for your files and papers and organize them on a daily basis to make sure that papers don’t accumulate on your desk.