Space of the Week: Peace and Calm in Clinton Hill

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

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 Photo: Wendy Goodman

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

Space of the Week: Peace and Calm in Clinton Hill