The Principles of Feng Shui In Interior Design

This post, contributed by Maureen K. Calamia, is part of our Designer Guest Series that features guest posts from talented interior designers and unique design product brands. Ms. Calamia is a Feng Shui consultant, author, speaker, and teacher. She works with clients to create spaces to enhance well-being by using concepts of environmental psychology and biophilia. For more on Maureen, see the full bio at the end of this article. If you would like to be featured in our Designer Guest Series, email me at

Interior design is significant in our lives for two reasons: 1) We now spend 90% of our days in indoor environments; and 2) Research proves that our environments have a significant impact on our behavior and well-being. This is probably why there is an increasing interest in Feng Shui principles.

The Four Basic Principles of Feng Shui

There are 4 basic principles of Feng Shui. They include:
  1. Nature
  2. The Concept of Ch’i
  3. Yin and Yang
  4. The 5 Natural Elements
Basic Principle #1: Nature

First and foremost in Feng Shui is connection with the natural world. We accomplish this connection through acknowledgement of room orientation, proportions, window views and daylight. In addition, incorporating natural materials, textures, and colors help us re-connect to nature in our spaces. This is also where green design comes in. Filling our rooms with earth-friendly, organic, non-toxic fabrics and materials contributes to living in harmony with nature and is human-friendly as well.

This kitchen feels connected to nature.
Basic Principle #2: Ch'i

Ch’i is also known as life force energy and inhabits everything in our universe. When describing a room or building, such as bright, inviting, boring or stale, we are describing the ch’i of the space. Ch’i needs to flow in a meandering way through a room and building. Ch’i that stops flowing is stagnant and contributes to blocks in your life. Ch’i that moves to too fast causes chaos and stress in your life. Gently flowing ch’i is the primary objective of Feng Shui.

Basic Principle #3: Yin and Yang

Yin and yang are complementary opposites. Dark and light, hard and soft, quiet and loud and examples of yin and yang in a space. Interior designers often intuitively bring a balance of yin and yang into the design of a room. Area rugs to balance hard floors, lighting to balance dark spaces, window treatments to soften the hard angles of a window – these are all ways we work with balancing yin and yang in a room.

Yin and yang are represented well in this living room
Basic Principle #4: The 5 Natural Elements

Most designers that I have taught really love the idea of harmonizing the five natural elements. The five elements are wood, fire, earth, metal and water. The “Five Element Theory” contains a creative cycle as well as a controlling cycle where each element is supported by another, and each element is controlled (or subdued) by another. The five elements are represented by material, shape, and color, as well as natural symbols.

The Five Elements: Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water
Feng Shui As Interior Design

The basic principles of Feng Shui are found in Chinese philosophy and permeate the culture as well as Traditional Chinese Medicine (acupuncture and herbology) and martial arts. Chi, yin and yang, and the five elements explain the underlying structure of the universe and the dynamics of change and life.

Feng Shui can be mundane as well as spiritually-moving. Moving the positioning of someone’s bed to optimize their health as well as helping them identify how the clutter around them connects to stagnation and blocks in their life.

Studying Feng Shui is a life-long journey for me and brings me great rewards in helping my clients improve their lives as well as their living spaces.

Maureen K. Calamia | Luminous Spaces | BBA, CFSP, BBP  |  Facebook |  Twitter
Maureen works with commercial and residential clients to create spaces to enhance and maintain well-being through working with new structures, renovations, or just looking for low-cost solutions to enhance their current space. She uses concepts of environmental psychology and biophilia in her work to inspire balance and joy by re-establishing a connection to the nature. She is currently writing a book on the Human-Nature Connection. Featured on News12 Long Island, speaker in Las Vegas for interior design national conference, Huffington Post blogger, Faculty of the Feng Shui Certificate Training program and online courses. Certified Feng Shui and Building Biology Practitioner. Board member of the International Feng Shui Guild and Sweetbriar Nature Center. Contact her for a free assessment of your project. 

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