Excerpted with permission from "Holistic Home: Creating an Environment for Physical and Spiritual Well-Being," by Joanna Trevelyan, from Quintet Publishing LTD., London.

Every color affects ch'i energy differently, and because of this colors are believed to be related to yin/yang and the five elements. Color can be used to maintain, calm and enhance a specific ch'i energy. Red, for example, is the most yang color and is linked with fire energy and the ch'i energy of the west.

Colors also have symbolic meanings. Red is associated with romance, wealth, and happiness. Three good reasons why the Chinese choose red for doors and entrance arches.

In essence, feng shui uses colors in two ways that are not totally dissimilar to our current use of color in the home. Large areas, or backgrounds, tend to be pale. Accent colors, which are more vivid, are used more sparingly on only small surfaces, such as a piece of furniture. The principle is: the stronger the color, the less is needed for it to be effective.

Personal preference is considered important in feng shui, so it is unwise to use a color, even if highly favorable and auspicious, if you do not actually like it.

Warm colors
Where to use--kitchen, dining room, living room.
How to use--warm colors advance, tending to make them dominate cool colors and neutrals.

Uplifting yellows

Associated with good luck, yellow can stimulate joy, wisdom, intuitive insight, and creativity and is a color that encourages flexibility and adaptability. It can lift your mood, inspire optimism, and improve your sense of well-being. Color therapists also claim it has a positive effect on the nervous system and gastrointestinal tract. In excess, yellow can overstimulate and irritate, and is also associated with negative sentiments such as cowardice and prejudice. Creamy or pale-earth yellows create an illusion of space in a vista where pokiness once reigned, and citrus yellows will accentuate natural available light.

Extrovert orange

A happy, social color that animates feelings of optimism, confidence, and enthusiasm, orange will prickle creativity, ambition, and energetic activity. It is used by color therapists to treat a range of problems including asthma, colds, thyroid problems, and even to stimulate lactation. In some people, however, orange can produce nervousness and restless behavior.

Passionate reds

Reds stimulate the senses and are associated with strength, joy, motivation, and love. This energy translates into an exciting and courageous decorating color. In color therapy it is used as a tonic, to improve blood circulation, and to overcome depression, fear, and inertia. Attention-seeking reds must also be used carefully. They can generate fear, uncontrolled passion, and excessive anger, and may be disturbing to those with mental health problems or neuroses.

Plucky pinks

Magenta hues signify spiritual completeness and a sense of contentment. In all strengths, pink is a symbol of self-respect and self-awareness, but some people may find it mentally draining. It is regarded as the color of "universal healing" because it can raise the vibrations or energies of the body.

Neutrals and earth colors
Where to use--neutrals and pale earth tones have a unifying influence that works well in halls and entrances but because they are easy on the eye and easy to live with, they can be used almost anywhere.
How to use--strong earth colors should be treated as warm colors.

Pure white

White blends all the rainbow colors, and represents harmony and purity. White is a revealer of truth and can lead us toward higher spiritual and divine knowledge. The Druids regarded white as a symbol of the Sun and light, their priests wearing white in deference to this. In excess, however, white can feel unfriendly, sterile, and unapproachable. White with tints of warm or cool colors better represents the tones of white found in nature.

Earth colors

Represent fertility and are associated with the environment and things in their natural state, and are said to dispel mental depression. Brown is a homeostatic, or balancing, color that creates a sense of security, although in excess it can extinguish a sense of vitality.