By Marsha Fottler –
An inexpensive designer secret that you can access and use right away is candlelight. When you set a table in the dining room, the lanai, the pool pavilion or even the kitchen banquette, you will want to finish off the special effects with candlelight. Actually, it’s the only special effect you’ll need. Why? Because everyone looks better by candlelight. Let me emphasize that, everyone looks better by candlelight. If men really knew how good they could look by candlelight, I swear they’d carry two tapers and a book of matches around with them all the time.
Downlighting from a chandelier, a ceiling fixture or pendant lights can cast shadows on your face and make you look tired. Perimeter lighting can be similarly harsh and glaring. But candlelight creates just the right ambience. It bathes everyone and everything in a soft warm appealing glow. You look around at the guests, your family or that one special person, and you think “where did all these good looking people come from? Boy, I’m really good as assembling a knock-out group of people.” And if you catch a glimpse of yourself in a mirror, you’ll think the same thing about yourself.
Candles today are wax, soy, dripless and come in tea-lights, tapers and pillars or all sizes from thin and short to massive with multiple wicks. Mix and match or just go for the classic white or ivory 10-inch tapers. And don’t stop with one or two. Set candles in other places in the room and spread that glorious glow.
The newest candles are pillar candles that glow with a flickering flame but are not actually candles with wicks at all. They are battery operated “flameless” candles. You flick them on and off at the bottom or you can set them on a timer to go on and off at specific intervals. This past Christmas I bought many of these fat faux pillar candles to put in street-facing windows. I was so pleased with the resulting look that they are now a tradition in this house. When we have dinner on the porch I use real candles on the table and I turn on the faux one that I’ve placed in other parts of the space. If there’s a breeze, the faux candles don’t go out.
If you’re worried that candle wax may drip onto your table or linens, use bobeches on your tapers. A bobeche is a glass (or sometimes metal) collar on a candle socket to catch drippings. Bobeches can be decorative or plain and start at about $2.00 a pair. Bobeche is pronounced bo-bah-shay.
But, with or without collars, candlelight belongs in your home if you want to create a mood and maximize the appeal of people and objects in the room. But, when using candles on a table where food is being served, never use scented candles. It will interfere with the taste of the food you are serving and there may be people at the table who are allergic to perfumed candles.
Scented candles do have a place, however. I love to use the attractively packaged ones in glass or metal in bedrooms on night tables or on the porch if no food is being served. A scented candle can be a nice little luxury.