Rustic Chic Candlelight

What is it about candles and candlelight that’s so appealing?  Romantic and soft, candlelight can also be practical, such as on those occasions when the power company decides to take a break.  But candles and the limitless ways of displaying them can transform a space into a haven of rustic chic coziness. 

These tall handmade lanterns from Mexico hold fragrance-free pillar candles and we often burn them in the barn’s windows to welcome guests for dinner.

The barn’s center table holds this heavy, wide-mouthed glass pot with a plain ivory pillar candle supported by tumbled black and beige rocks which add a touch of rustic chicness.

My favorite scented candles are these from Carriere Freres Industrie.  This French company, which dates to 1884, is one of the oldest candlemakers in existence.  Carriere Freres offers candles in 30 scents ranging from lily of the valley and fig to ebony and firewood (a personal favorite). 

Herve Gambs’ candles are softly scented and come in a variety of fragrances.  And while we’re on the subject of scented candles, they should be from really excellent manufacturers. One should never have to “plug in” to the electrical outlet for a great smelling home.  And never burn different scents at the same time – a deadly proposition.  When I want to use a scented candle, I use just one and burn it in a central location so that its perfume can subtly waft throughout the barn. I then supplement that single-scented candle with loads of unscented ones.  And never use scented candles at the dining table.  It will be overpowering and compete with the food.

These plain, unscented ivory pillars in tall, thick-walled hurricanes rest on the server in the barn’s kitchen.  The black tumbled rocks add an extra bit of rustic chic.  Burning scented candles in a kitchen is a big mistake; flirting with asphyxiation is not rustic chic.

Interior designer Martin Lawrence Bullard offers a great line of gently-scented candles in heavy glass votives.  I especially like his vetiver fragrance and his exotic spice candle.  These large candles come packaged in a beautiful box and with their own matches – a very rustic chic touch.

Sometimes, however, going organic to get subtle fragrance is best.  Here I have put two unscented small pillar candles into heavy glass votives and filled them with cloves.  The scent is incredibly gentle.

Shards of raw cinnamon in a heavy glass hurricane holding a plain ivory pillar is another natural way to get subtle fragrance into a room.  I get the bags of raw cinnamon (not cinnamon sticks) from the Indian market in New York.  Coffee beans are also great to use in a hurricane such as this.

Diptyque’s Santal (or sandlewood) is a great scent for a bathroom.  A glass canister filled with lavender is another way to waft soft fragrance throughout a bathroom when you don’t want to use candles.  Just turn on the shower or fill the tub and take the canister’s lid off for soothing fragrance.

A tapered candle in an antique silver and glass hurricane rests on a red Chinese Chippendale chair in one of the barn’s guest bedrooms.  It’s a rustic chic touch for welcoming overnight guests.

All photos by Joel Woodard 


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