I say move over to the tired tea light. Set a stylish scene with taper candles.
Nothing brings more warmth to a space than candlelight. Hallways, coffee tables, living room shelves and bathroom vanities will always benefit from the addition of a gentle, flickering light. So too, does the dining table.
Perhaps it’s an awakening of some primal instinct, but there’s something truly satisfying about watching a candle burn slowly through the night, along with good food and great conversation.
Whilst there's definitely room in the mix around the home for scented candles, a taper candle or tea light skips the status symbols and provides a single flame for the sheer enjoyment of watching it burn. A new dawn has arrived however and it's time for candle lovers to settle in for a style showdown, as the renaissance of the taper candle begins to take hold.
The case for tea lights
Originally used to keep ceremonial tea warm in Japan, little tea light candles are now enjoyed the world over for the simple ambient glow they bring to a small vessel. Glass, porcelain... even the humble tin can all act as a votive. Grouped together in odd numbers or placed on a tray as part of a larger vignette, they add an extra decorative dimension. A line of glass votives rising up staircases indoors or hurricane lanterns outside, lights the path to adventure.
Tiny and tinny, tea lights are a great "one size fits all" solution to adding candlelight to a space. Super cheap to buy in bulk, they can be popped into things you already own, or used en masse to create a wow factor with pure numbers.
For sheer elegance however, tea lights don’t hold a candle to their predecessor - the classic taper.
The case for taper candles
Right now, my vote is for taking a step back in time to embrace the taper candle. For literally centuries, people have been lighting tables, walls, ceilings and secret passages with these slim-line beauties.
More recently they’ve enjoyed a resurgence in homes in myriad colours, from handmade honey-coloured natural beeswax to brightly flamboyant rainbow hues, the classic taper is perfect for adding instant glamour to a dinner table or sideboard. What the tiny tea light lacks in stature and form, the taper candle brings to the party in height and heart.
Taper candles bring back to life an age-old practice that has set the scene for countless soirees over the ages. They're not just for palace dwellers however; boost your next dinner party by reviving this pastime yourself.
You needn't match all of your candlesticks to one another either. Depending on your style, an eclectic collection adds to the charm. Different shapes and sizes of can be unified with the use of the same white or coloured taper candle for all and, if you sit it outside or in the path of a slight breeze, even the most determined dripless candle will create a captivating cascade of wax.
In a pinch, a simple wine bottle will serve to hold these single shining lights. Group a pair or trio, or plonk a single sentinel into the centre of your table to take the ambience up a level and bring the bustle of life down a notch.
Whichever candle you choose, it's likely that almost everyone has a candle holder at home to hold either a tea light or taper candle. Ceramic or glass can add a pop of colour, or go for metallic holders for a touch of bling.
Tucked onto a bookshelf, buried in a box or forgotten in the back of a cupboard, it’s time to dust off and shine up these wax-holding wonders and make them glow anew.
Always go for quality over quantity in candles and keep open flames where you can see them. A good quality tapered candle should outlast a basic tea light and might even see you through a couple of dinners, as long as you don’t burn it at both ends...
Images from top | Ricardo Prosperi; Andres F Uran; Chronis Yan; Moodywalk on unsplash