Where do candles belong? Where don’t they? Almost any mantlescape could use an ornate vintage candelabra, and the kitchen could use a odor-busting candle in a cute used cachepot. What makes a long, hot bath better? That’s right, a gorgeously scented candle in a vintage silver candle holder. Sit them next to some seemingly random vintage decorative objects and create the elusive and sought-after “vignette."
HOW TO PICK THE PERFECT VINTAGE CANDLE HOLDERS
Of course electricity rendered them superfluous a few decades ago, but we personally can’t shake vintage candles holders just yet (and probably not ever!). Whether filled with candles or left intentionally blank, used candle holders are a subtle way to imbue your space with a sculptural note, add a little metallic, and, of course, curate an ambient glow.
If you’re among those who only considers vintage candle holders when it comes to holiday soirees, try an easy, everyday option like placing a pair on a coffee table or clustering a group on a fireplace mantle. Opt for unusual shapes that don’t formally announce themselves as antique candle holders (like cones, spirals, or figural pineapples) and you’ll have pieces that looks just as intriguing post-festivity as they do mid-party.
For those who feel a flicker of desire, but are still unsure where to start with secondhand candle holders, we’ve compiled an essential guide, complete with candle care tips and styles to consider if your style’s Mid-Century, Hollywood Regency, or Boho Chic.
THE BASICS OF CANDLE BURNING
When you consider that most modern day candle burning takes place in a manufacturer-provided jar, it’s easy to feel a little out of practice with the pillar and taper candles. But a few tips will have you more than prepped, including, first and foremost: looking for holders that will support candles standing at a straight, 90-degree angles. Why? Because perfectly straight candles drip less wax.
To ensure your candles stand straight, look for pillar candle holders with a prong that can be inserted directly into the pillar base, and for taper candles holders, seek out candles with a 7/8” base. This is the universally accepted size for a taper, and generally, any vintage candle holder you buy should jive with it. However, in the event wiggle room persists, try stick wax. It’s a serious revelation.
Is that flicker a full-on flame of desire yet? If so, read on for specific candle holders to pair with your personal style.
YOUR STYLE IS....
If your style is all about efficiency balanced with swooping, Jetson-inspired lines, we love the idea of a Danish Modern candle holder. Thankfully, because of companies like Dansk (who produced Scandinavian-inspired home goods stateside in the 1960s), there’s no shortage of authentic candle holders from the era. The lead designer for Dansk, Jens Quistgaard, was renowned for the way he juxtaposed brisk, economical style with a healthful dose of whimsy. As a result, Dansk candleholders range from the simple: a teak, hourglass taper holder, to the dramatic: a heavy, articulating staircase candelabra cast in wrought iron. Unquestionably sculptural, these are the types of vintage candle holders that require no candles to resonate with guests.
Worth noting is that that many of Jens Quistgaard’s designs do not abide by the 7/8” taper rule. Mostly affecting his multiple-well candelabras, these designs require a “super skinny taper,” which is generally ¼.”
Featuring a style that runs more figural than sculptural, silver screen-worshiping sirens will find a plethora of vintage candle holders mimicking iconic Regency shapes—like palm trees and pineapples—all rendered in lustrous brass, of course. These brassy finds do marvelously when paired up with Regency-right colors like magenta, cobalt, emerald, and the de rigueur leopard. But for a piece that’s tantamount to the era, try one of Dorothy Thorpe’s Lucite “Pretzel” candle holders.
The liquid equivalent of a loopy and undeniably sexy autograph, the vintage Dorothy Thorpe Pretzel candle holder is ready-made for gracing lacquer coffee table tops and Parsons-style dining tables. There’s also little that rivals the look of these candle holders set atop a glass table. Anchor the holders with books to keep them from disappearing into a glassy abyss, and pair them with bubble gum pinks and the ubiquitous banana leaf print for a truly glitzy look.
If your look is all about documenting that trip rather than the destination, we love the idea of opting for a collection of vintage candle holders rather than a singular pair. To pull off the look, collect candles in a similar finish (like brass or silver), and in an array of heights. Tall, skinny candle holders like spindles work great—the shapelier, the better. Once gathered, group your findings on a mantle or assemble them in the center of a dining table.
This is one look we actually prefer embellishing with wax, as the varying heights of the candle holders will translate directly to the candles. If you’re still not into the prospect of open flames, there’s no need to light. Instead, simply thread your candles with greenery garlands and wild blooms for a look that’s enchanted forest chic, whether illuminated or not.