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There’s a lot going on in Laura Benko’s house. The feng shui consultant shares the space with her fireman husband, their 6-year-old-daughter, an Irish terrier, a Siamese fighting fish, and a little baby gecko. The Clinton Hill duplex, which the family took over in 2007, has a less than peaceful backstory. According to neighborhood gossip, it was once a crack house. Benko, a ten-year feng shui veteran, has transformed it into a calming oasis. Here’s her terrier, Yogi, surveying the view from the living-room window.

Photo: Wendy Goodman

Benko has carefully edited her eclectic furnishings so that the narrow living room isn’t overwhelmed. The mirror is framed with bits of discarded tin ceiling that Benko’s husband, John Ceriello, scored from his old West Village fire station. The painting, seen reflected in the mirror, is the only item of décor that Benko has ever found on the street.

Photo: Wendy Goodman

The area by the front door is sleek and minimal with a chaise lounge from Jensen-Lewis beneath an Ikea painting. Benko’s introduction to feng shui was less than Zen. She was browsing in Barnes & Noble when Nancy SantoPietro’s book Feng Shui and Health: The Anatomy of a Home fell on her head! Benko describes the ancient Chinese practice as “the psychology of how we dwell.” Her consultations are emotionally charged. Those who seek her help may be coping with more than a cluttered home or office. “Our surroundings tell the story of our subconscious,” explains Benko. For example, people with low self-esteem tend to hang their mirrors way too high. “If the client doesn’t cry, I haven’t done my job,” she says.

Photo: Wendy Goodman

In the living room, Benko has achieved perfect balance. The desk is from West Elm, the chair and the ottoman were upholstered using Suzani fabric, and the textured wall painting is her own handiwork.

Photo: Wendy Goodman

Benko created a block pattern with masking tape and painted her daughter’s bedroom walls with sherbet tones. Chewie the fish is in that bowl somewhere …

Photo: Wendy Goodman

Benko hand-painted this flourish to complement a montage of family photographs.

Photo: Wendy Goodman

A secret home office! Benko and her husband removed the original cupboard doors and installed a barn gate fixture so the workspace can be tucked out of sight, and out of mind, when it’s not in use.

Photo: Wendy Goodman

“The bedroom should be devoted to two things,” explains Benko. Hers is minimally furnished with a luxurious bed covered with a Moroccan wedding blanket from Sheherazade (121 Orchard St, nr. Delancey St.; 212-539-1771). The paramount table lamps are from CB2, and the silver Mylar-backed raffia wallpaper is from DesignYourWall.com.

Photo: Wendy Goodman

In the tranquil outdoor area, Benko covered the existing chain-link fence with bamboo from Calibamboo.com.

Photo: Wendy Goodman

The family dines outdoors at this cedar picnic table and teak root bench. Benko is committed to spreading the feng shui gospel beyond her apartment and into her community. She mobilizes neighborhood groups to clean up garbage and plant trees, and she just finished her first book, appropriately titled A Feng Shui’d Life.

Photo: Wendy Goodman

Craig Murphey (left) Ten Eyck Street and Union Avenue, Williamsburg. Early in the morning of October 18, 2007, Murphey was biking home from escorting his date to her South Williamsburg apartment. According to police reports, Murphey attempted to outrun a gas truck turning left on Ten Eyck Street. His pelvis shattered on impact, and he was pronounced dead at the scene. In his honor, over 40 friends have since received tattoos that read BE BETTER.

Frank C. Simpson Linden Boulevard near 175th Street, St. Albans. Simpson, a janitor returning from the evening shift at a Con Edison facility, was hit by a Dodge Stratus on November 9, 2006.

Jose Mora (left) North Conduit and McKinley Avenues, Cypress Hills. On September 4, 2006, 11-year-old Mora was on his way to the barber for a back-to-school haircut; that week, he was to start the sixth grade at nearby Junior High School 302. He was struck by a Honda while walking his bike across an intersection.

Jonathan Neese South 4th Street and Roebling Street, Williamsburg. On August 12, 2006, Neese, a bike messenger known as “Bronx Jon,” was struck by a livery cab while cycling from Brooklyn to Manhattan.

Sam Khaled Hindy (left) Base of the Manhattan Bridge. On November 16, 2007, Hindy was run over after mistakenly entering a Manhattan Bridge lane reserved for cars.

Habian Rodriguez Main Street and Horace Harding Expressway, Flushing. On September 1, 2007, Rodriguez collided with a city bus and died 30 minutes later.

Elizabeth Padilla (left) Fifth Avenue and Prospect Place, Park Slope. Commuting to the Brooklyn Bar Association on June 9, 2005, Padilla swerved to avoid the open door of a parked P.C. Richard’s truck. She lost control of her bike and fell underneath the wheels of an ice-cream delivery truck.

Juan Luis Solis East Gun Hill Road and Bouck Avenue, the Bronx. Attempting to pass a double-parked car on June 22, 2007, Solis was struck by a box truck and died of severe head trauma. The truck did not stop.

Jeffrey Moore (left) Chauncey Street and Rockaway Avenue, Bed-Stuy. According to witnesses, on May 29, 2007, Moore was run over (twice) by his girlfriend Jeanine Harrington. She was indicted on charges of murder and criminal possession of a weapon (her Nissan Pathfinder).

Derek Lake Houston Street and La Guardia Place. On June 26, 2006, Lake reportedly skidded on a steel construction plate and was crushed underneath the wheels of a passing truck.

Elijah Armand Wrancher (left) Springfield Boulevard and 130th Avenue, Springfield Gardens. On August 28, 2007, 12-year-old Wrancher attempted to ride his bicycle while holding onto a moving truck. He lost his grip and fell under the truck’s rear wheel.

David Smith Sixth Avenue and 36th Street. On December 5, 2007, Smith was biking up Sixth Avenue when the passenger-side door of a parked pickup truck opened unexpectedly. He was knocked into the path of an oncoming truck.

Anthony Delgado (left) Palmetto Street and Central Avenue, Bushwick. Shortly after midnight on April 29, 2007, 13-year-old Delgado borrowed a bike to head home from his friend’s baptism party. As he crossed the intersection, he was struck by an SUV.

Carolina Hernandez 57th Avenue and Junction Boulevard, Elmhurst. On August 16, 2007, Hernandez was riding to a mall when she was struck and killed by a Chevy truck. The driver pled guilty to driving with a suspended license.

Anthony Delgado (left) Palmetto Street and Central Avenue, Bushwick. Shortly after midnight on April 29, 2007, 13-year-old Delgado borrowed a bike to head home from his friend’s baptism party. As he crossed the intersection, he was struck by an SUV.

Carolina Hernandez 57th Avenue and Junction Boulevard, Elmhurst. On August 16, 2007, Hernandez was riding to a mall when she was struck and killed by a Chevy truck. The driver pled guilty to driving with a suspended license.

Anthony Delgado (left) Palmetto Street and Central Avenue, Bushwick. Shortly after midnight on April 29, 2007, 13-year-old Delgado borrowed a bike to head home from his friend’s baptism party. As he crossed the intersection, he was struck by an SUV.

Carolina Hernandez 57th Avenue and Junction Boulevard, Elmhurst. On August 16, 2007, Hernandez was riding to a mall when she was struck and killed by a Chevy truck. The driver pled guilty to driving with a suspended license.

Anthony Delgado (left) Palmetto Street and Central Avenue, Bushwick. Shortly after midnight on April 29, 2007, 13-year-old Delgado borrowed a bike to head home from his friend’s baptism party. As he crossed the intersection, he was struck by an SUV.

Carolina Hernandez 57th Avenue and Junction Boulevard, Elmhurst. On August 16, 2007, Hernandez was riding to a mall when she was struck and killed by a Chevy truck. The driver pled guilty to driving with a suspended license.

Fall Fashion Features

The Beefcake in the Backcourt
Big, fake, and fully able to outshine its surroundings.Big, fake, and fully able to outshine its surroundings.

 

The Beefcake in the Backcourt
Big, fake, and fully able to outshine its surroundings.Big, fake, and fully able to outshine its surroundings.
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