Introducing The 5 Elements In Interior Design

Part of creating a beautiful, warm, and inviting home is to include the 5 Chinese elements: Water, Fire, Earth, Wood, Metal. The ancient theory is based on the counter balance of each element with one another in the ongoing cycle of creation and obliteration.

“Wood fuels Fire; Fire makes Earth; Earth begets Metal; Metal collects Fire and Water; Water nourishes Wood; Wood parts Earth; Earth absorbs Water; Water douses Fire; Fire melts Metal and burns Wood; Metal chops Wood” …and so on… (from Your Home, Your Sanctuary by Clodagh)  

A harmonious home has all of these elements represented without one overpowering another. It isn’t readily apparent, but when a space is designed with all the elements represented in balance, there’s a feeling of peace and serenity throughout the home.

If there’s too much of one element, use its opposite to balance the energy. For example, if there’s too much stone, adding wood will soften the earth element.

Water: A beautiful water view from each window fulfills the element in this apartment. If there’s no water view, an aquarium or fountain will suffice.

Fire: A fireplace is a perfect representation. I added one to the media wall of this home. It’s a place where the family comes together to enjoy the light and warmth (or watch TV). Candles and lighting fixtures also serve to symbolize fire. 

Metal: Furnishings, drawer and cabinet pulls, light fixtures, plumbing fittings, and stainless appliances represent metal. In this kitchen, the abundance of metal is balanced by mahogany cabinetry.

Wood: To bring balance throughout the entire home, I added custom wood interior doors, wood flooring in the bedrooms, a rustic wood dining table, rosewood sideboard to divide living and dining areas, and teak coffee table.

Earth: Stone flooring, counter tops, and backsplashes bring in this element.

Interior design is not just styling a space with furnishings and color; it’s creating a home that fulfills and supports mind, body, and spirit. Whether conscious or not, having the 5 elements balanced throughout your home is an essential component to a design scheme


One of the easiest and most effective ways to transform an entire design scheme is changing the color of walls and ceilings. Because it covers such a large surface area, no interior design element affects the mood and atmosphere of a room more than paint. There’s a science to color selection and their relationships which is another important principle I’ll discuss in my next blog

1 comment:

  1. It's pretty cool to see how you Tie the Big Picture of Earth's Elements and Forces surrounding our Planet like the Atmosphere, Energy and Oceans into our Humble Living Spaces. There is a relevant connection and the way you explain it through Design helps enlighten our lives..Many home dwellers probably never see the connections with the Elements...and how changing these connections can alter Space and effect our moods and life styles. Thank you, Robin, for bringing the Bigger Picture down to a more pallet-able size.