Turning a house or condo into a home requires a few must-have items: throw pillows, floor lamps, and some wall hangings, in addition to comfy furniture and rugs. To that list, Karen Lipsett-Kidd would like to add a few more: crystals, minerals, and fossils.
Lipsett-Kidd, co-owner with her mother, Susan, of Crystalworks Gallery (which recently moved from West 5th Avenue and Burrard to a new location at 1760 West 3rd Avenue), has been fascinated with geological specimens since her teenage years. But rather than a scientific approach, she has taken a more aesthetic philosophy toward the earth’s treasures.
“We want to promote minerals as art,” she explains during a tour of the gallery, which is filled with pieces ranging in size from a few centimetres long to more than a metre tall. “For thousands of years it’s something that people have collected.”¦It started with the kings and the queens, they collected minerals and gemstones. It used to be something that only super-wealthy people could do.”
Today, whether you’re living large or small, it’s possible to add a touch of ethereal beauty to your living quarters with a few well-placed pieces formed by mother nature herself. Gesturing toward a large chunk of shimmering Arkansas quartz crystal more than 250 million years old, Lipsett-Kidd explains: “That’s a museum specimen in the $30,000 range. But there are pieces that you can afford to have in your home that start at about $50 or $65.”¦If you can’t afford to have a museum-sized specimen, or you don’t have space for it, you could still have a piece of this quite affordably.”
When it comes to displaying these otherworldly objects, Lipsett-Kidd suggests filling a glass dish with tumbled stones to create an eye-catching accent piece in a room. “They look beautiful in an open container,” she says, “ and I know lots of people who do that. I have collections in different parts of my house.”
Eggs or spheres carved from crystal or stone can also make a bold statement when carefully placed on an uncluttered surface, such as a windowsill or bedside table. And while they have been used for thousands of years as healing objects or talismans, you needn’t have a New Age bent to appreciate how a stunning piece of agate or amethyst can add a brilliant focal point to a room.
Interior decorator Maureen Powers, who runs Vancouver-based home-staging company Dekora, says crystals and minerals play an important part in her feng shui practice. People unfamiliar with the objects should look at them, she says, “as a sculptural shape that can add beauty and a natural kind of feeling to a space, as opposed to looking at it as a metaphysical object”.
One ideal spot in which to place a crystal, she says, is in the bathroom. “People are starting to want a more spa environment,” she notes. “A crystal would be a very natural kind of object to incorporate into that room.”
Living rooms and bedrooms are also worth considering, but she cautions against overdoing it. “It’s not about quantity, it’s about quality,” Powers says. “It [a crystal] needs a special place. You don’t need a lot of them. I’ve gone to people’s houses and they have way too many crystals going on. You need one or two at the most [in a room].” She also suggests looking beyond the front door: “You can put crystals outside as garden art, which is a welcoming feature.”
If you’re looking for a more integrated way to bring the earth into your home, Lipsett-Kidd also carries Moroccan-made sinks carved out of stone dotted with ammonite fossils, dendrite-crystal-covered stone tiles that work well on stairs, or fossil tiles ideal for a kitchen backsplash.
“They offer an alternative to the mass-produced things that are out there for accessories,” observes Lipsett-Kidd of her geological specimens. Plus, with everyone from politicians to restaurateurs jumping on the eco-bandwagon, they’re the ultimate in green design.
“They offer something that’s natural, that’s from the earth,” says Lipsett-Kidd. “When you look at them, it gives you a sense of peace, a sense of the creativity of the earth. They reconnect you with nature in a very grounded and authentic way.”