MONTVILLE, NJ – Lecturer Michelle Zanoni taught about the five elements of feng shui and how using them can lead to one’s “dream home” at the Montville Township Public Library on Feb. 8.

Zanoni had been a designer of wallpaper and textiles for more than 20 years, she said, but when she learned about feng shui, it opened up a “world of energy.”

Feng shui is an ancient Chinese art of designing and decorating one’s space. The words mean wind and water, and followers of the tenets believe that one can achieve health, wealth and happiness if one’s space contains less clutter, has a special furniture arrangement following certain principals, and if one displays certain objects.

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Zanoni says she is now a decorator who “uses feng shui eyes.”

“I look at the elements, and I assess the environment,” she said. “Sometimes, though, people call me in for very specific reasons like their relationships. But there’s no magic pill.”

Zanoni explained about ying and yang, and how there are opposite effects that need to be balanced for the users of a room. For example, one family member may wish the bedroom to be cozy with dark colors, while another may wish for a large, airy space with bright colors.

Before she studied feng shui, Zanoni said she never paid attention to the “quality” of her rooms in her home, but now she recommended to the audience that they “tune in” to their spaces.

“I guarantee there are parts you don’t like, and it has to do with the elements and your personal nature,” she said. “You’ll start to see your rooms differently. Look as I do at color, shape and form.”

The five feng shui elements are wood, fire, earth, metal and water, and each has a color and shape assigned to it.

Water, for example, is represented by blues and blacks, and of course wavy, amorphous shapes. These colors, shapes and textures bring certain attributes to one’s life, according to the tenets of feng shui. Water brings flow and relaxation into life, and the bedroom represents water because one lays down in the bedroom, Zanoni said. Aquariums, fish bowls and mirrors represent water, and anything that has a swirling or curving pattern, like a classic Oriental rug, a paisley print slipcover, or artwork that shows moving water. A Le Corbusier chair with its wavy shape can represent water, she said.

The idea is to use these elements to bring the desired attribute into your life, so by bringing more water elements such as the blues and swirling shapes in, relaxation can be aided, according to feng shui. Wood is associated with energy, fire with passion, earth with stability/balance, metal with strength and clarity.

Zanoni showed the audience examples of rooms with the elements and where “adjustments” had been made to increase a certain element’s “power.”

She warned however, that nothing works 100 percent.

“I evaluate each person and each home,” she said. “I see what element is standing out. It’s not simple. Every house is different. You have to look at what each element does and what each person needs. We’re integrated into our spaces – it’s not arbitrary. It’s a reflection of you.”