By Paul Weideman
Stefania Masoni has paid attention to good design and architecture in Paris, where she grew up; and in Latin America, where she traveled and worked as a graphic designer. She was employed in that field in Costa Rica and went on to open her own interior design studio in Greenwich, Connecticut. Today, she’s a Realtor with Santa Fe Properties. And she often is called on to also use her credentials in feng shui — or, actually, what she said is the older version of the practice of “auspicious design” called k’an yu.
She says it can be employed to prepare properties for quick and smooth sales. And k’an yu principles can help buyers to identify great properties.
“There are two parts to what I do: the seen, or the cosmetic, and the unseen,” she said. As an example of the former, she might recommend adding plants and fabrics to “soften” the perhaps aggressive feeling of a contemporary home that has a lot of glass and steel. The colors and textures of materials are also important.
The “unseen” calls for more specialist work. “I clear houses of negative energy for people before they move in — especially after divorce or bankruptcy or a prolonged illness. That energy will pool there. It’s contagious. People who move into a home where there’s been a horrible divorce and a lot of contention tend to start to have marital problems over time.”
She thinks of her efforts as insurance. “If people who call me in tell me, ‘I don’t really get it,’ I say, ‘Let me put it this way. You’re moving into a new house, so energetically you’re putting on somebody’s sweaty socks and underwear,’ then they’ll say, ‘OK, I get it,’” Masoni said, laughing.
Born in Rome, Masoni earned a bachelor of fine arts degree from Pratt Institute in New York and got into martial arts 34 years ago. In 1996, she began an apprenticeship in k’an yu with Alan Lee in New York City. “He’s a chi kung master and also a kung fu master,” Masoni said. “I have a black belt in kung fu, but I didn’t study under him. I studied under other people in Chinatown in New York. I started in martial arts and that brought me into chi kung, herbs, and acupuncture, and because of my art background it dovetailed nicely into feng shui”
She began working with clients in 1998 and two years later she opened Good Feng Shui Studio in Greenwich. Masoni has been an associate broker with Santa Fe Properties for a year and a half.
Stefania, how long does it take to do this for a house?
It depends on the square footage and the situation. I do a free reading beforehand and it gives me a picture of how much time I’m going to need.
Give us an example of the kind of things you might suggest.
It’s usually about love and money. I look at the areas of the house that represent finance and partnership. If there is a door that goes outside from the master bedroom, I encourage modifications, because that can lead to someone leaving the relationship. Building a patio helps, and you can enclose it so there’s not a direct exit to the road. Similarly if it’s where you do finances, if there are too many doors, your money can ending up going out the door.
I try everything out. I don’t say anything I haven’t tried and seen more than several repeated confirmations of how this can work.
You help people choose between a few alternatives?
Yes, and I emphasize, “Don’t do it just because Stefania told you so. Here are three things you can do that can be helpful.”
To some degree, it’s all about harmony, right? And doesn’t it often correspond with just a good sense of balance, like a good interior designer would do?
Yes, because they’ve built that skill of feeling. But there are interior designers that don’t have it.
The bottom line is it’s just common sense. Sometimes they’ll build these kitchens where the cabinets are very angular and you’ll walk in and in kung-fu speak you’ll see a bunch of knives. It registers on the optic nerve: knives coming at you. So what happens is that people will fight in the kitchen a lot, or there’s a feeling of unease.
When people hire me to look at properties that have good feng shui — I just did one for someone from California, as a matter of fact — I tell them, it’s all about 80 percent. If you get 80 percent of what you wanted in a house, you’re pretty golden. The Californians bought the house after seeing it only in a virtual tour. But she was dialed into the feng shui; she knew what it was about. They just moved into the Eldorado house two days ago.
Your bio says you’re fluent in Italian, French, and Spanish, as well as English.
I am, and that can help me build trust and rapport. And no money can buy when I see people before and after we did the feng shui stuff, they’ll call me up and say, “Guess what?” or they got a job, or they found whatever they were looking for. It gives me joy. Absolute joy.
Have you done real estate before or is this a new wrinkle?
It’s a new wrinkle.