BURNING RATE

It’s no secret to anyone who knows me that I have something of an obsession with scented candles. A rather fancy obsession; limited to those beyond a certain price bracket. Although many things in life do not justify their elevated cost (nail varnish, mascara, certain clothes, all ice lollies, face wash, art, housing), there are certain things that only get better the more nut-wrenchingly expensive they become (plasters, perfume, fabric, white goods, room spray). Even though there is nothing more ephemeral than burning wax, candles fall firmly into the latter lap of luxury. Certain brands manage to permeate the air with soft musk or warm fig scent for the twenty pound mark; but these are rare finds, like the Dior dress in the charity shop 99p bin because all the ladies were away on sorting day. From twenty to forty is the wax vacuum; nothing exists within its expanse. And after that, there is Diptyque. There is also of course Bella Freud (edgy), Jo Malone (Royal Wedding recreationists), Roja (probably for people that know him), Le Labo (for utilitarian apron-wearers who would secretly like to buy their boyfriend a personalised card from Clintons), and then some so expensive their makers could easily be tried for embezzlement. But the one rule for candle buying was ever thus; once you’ve chosen the most divine scent, ensure you like the pot. They make very useful mini vases, pen holders, button jars, or, drumroll… candle holders. And if you’re going to recycle them, which you should, you need them to look as good as they smelled, before all that cash went up in smoke.

Brass vase: Marche aux Puces, Port de Vanves, Ceramic vase: Chris Keenan, Ceramic birds: Tomlinsons, Tablecloth: Mary Magdalen Foundation, Candle pots: Diptyque, Bowl: Cornucopia

Brass vase: Marche aux Puces, Port de Vanves, Ceramic vase: Chris Keenan, Ceramic birds: Tomlinsons, Tablecloth: Mary Magdalen Foundation, Candle pots: Diptyque, Bowl: Cornucopia

 

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BEAUTIFULLY USEFUL

A little story today of how William Morris’s adage about beauty and usefulness can sometimes get confusing: a few years ago, having become increasingly irritated by the presence of an ugly blackberry, packet of chewing gum, bank card reader and set of keys, I hid them in a cute box. As useful as these items were to their owner, I did not find them beautiful. Of course by Morris’s standard, the owner of the offending items had every right to own them. At the end of a long and frustrating search that resulted in the items’ owner being trapped in the house unable to make contact with the outside world, I realised that my need to hide everything not beautiful can sometimes be taken too far. Allocate a safe house for ugly items that allow us to lock a door or make a phonecall, that everyone can easily identify. And ensure when housing small items you only rarely find useful (spare sewing machine feet, safety pins, buttons, biros, pencils, foreign coins), to remember what’s in each box. I’m not advocating labels, but nor am I promoting beauty over sense. Not really.

Desk: Past Caring, Islington, Playing cards: Detling Antiques Fair, Notebook: Smythson, Boxes: Dyptique, Laduree, Jo Malone, Le Labo, Smythson, Marble Egg: Buxton Museum, Frame: Ikea, Chair: Mary Magdalen Foundation

Desk: Past Caring, Islington, Playing cards: Detling Antiques Fair, Notebook: Smythson, Boxes: Diptyque, Laduree, Jo Malone, Le Labo, Smythson, Marble Egg: Buxton Museum, Frame: Ikea, Chair: Mary Magdalen Foundation