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
This week I was taken on a tour of Lutyens’ Surrey. My daring companion identified all of the architect’s houses in the county and off we set in his convertible; my headscarf flapping, his cap masterfully cutting through the warm air of the A3. The endeavour was not without peril. Most of the houses are private homes, and, it turns out, folk who live in homes, albeit Grade 1 listed ones*, are not keen on uninvited guests**. Still, a lovely lady called Mrs Baker agreed, by prior appointment, to show us around a Lutyens house epitomising the rather stark, rather throwback style of the Arts and Crafts Movement popular with fancy Edwardian folk. Of course, if the A3 were in fact a time portal, and we had been able to hurtle through it into 1905, we could have found the house as it once was – still slightly strange, but full of useful and beautiful things. The old Morris adage should still apply to the home; if you have space of course. But if you are like me and don’t, you might try anyway. Just make sure that if you are attempting to display items not typically destined for display, that you secure them safely to the wall. Vintage, kitsch neon tennis rackets seem like a great buy at the time, and look seriously chic resting against a matt grey backdrop, but, slightly less chic when they harm small children and animals. Think like the Edwardians. But only think like them about interiors. They were mostly dreadful to children and animals.
*And therefore part of our heritage, and therefore should be bloody well open for tea and cake.
**Claiming that Sat Nav has led you erroneously up their 500 metre gravel drive is a dubious excuse at best
Vintage neon tennis rackets: Nuthall jumble, Grey paint: Little Green