What elemental style do you bring to your home? Are you obsessive about cleanliness and order or do you save everything for a rainy day and then have trouble getting rid of things? Is your house a mess and you don’t care or do you delegate things to a housekeeper? In feng shui, your home and house-management style is a direct expression of your elemental personality.

The five element theory

Each element (water, wood, fire, earth and metal) is a form of energy with its own unique qualities, expressing itself in many ways. We can find the elements in shapes, seasons, tastes, directions, organs, personality traits, colors and more.


To balance an area, feng shui traditionally uses the five-element theory to determine what element is dominant or deficient, but it is fun to look at the elements in terms of personality and house-management style.


Water is free-flowing, representing both movement and clarity, never letting obstacles get in the way. People with strong water personalities are intuitive, spontaneous, creative and open to reorganizing and changing the energy every so often to avoid stagnancy. Yet, they often have too much going on to worry about clearing up their space. Their homes have lots of personality, and contain unique one-of-a-kind furnishings. Philosophers, painters and metaphysically oriented people often are water personalities.


Wood represents growth, upward movement, practicality and new beginnings. People with strong wood personalities are always on the go, practical, know the art of delegation and like things functional so that they can keep on track. Active during the day, they crave a peaceful home environment. In line with their busy schedule, they are more likely to hire others to help them clean, decorate and manage their home, which is usually beautifully maintained.



Fire is passionate, stimulating, expansive, creative and about reaching the heights of expression. People with strong fire personalities move fast, are impatient, have a short attention span and want things done “now.” Their homes may have bright bold colors, animal prints and furry pillows, but also may show signs of a lack of maintenance — dusty shelves, messy closets. Their attention is on the embellishments, not the details.


Earth is foundational and comfortable, representing grounding and stability. People with strong Earth personalities help others feel safe and nurtured. Because they have a hard time getting rid of anything, their homes may contain broken items, are often cluttered and have overflowing closets and shelves filled to the brim; yet the home feels lived in and cozy.


Metal energy is contracting, cool, clean and simple, representing what is solid and exact. People with metal personalities are perfectionists, constantly refining their environment and paying great attention to detail. Mindful of what they bring into their space, you will find no clutter in the home, which is usually elegant with luxurious fabrics and polished textures throughout.

Combination of elemental affinities


We are all a combination of elemental styles, and you may see yourself reflected in two or even three of the elemental descriptions listed above. It’s important to ask yourself what you really love. You may have a fantasy of having a clean and immaculate home (metal), but really prefer to live in a space that is cozy and homey (earth). Neither judge nor compare your style of expression to others, but work on accepting your reality as a part of who you are. That is the true secret to balance!

For more information on feng shui expert and life guide Alice Inoue, visit www.aliceinspired.com.