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Home Design with Kevin Sharkey

Do's and Don'ts of Scented Candles

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Confession: I'm not a scented candle enthusiast. While home fragrances can be lovely, I believe that scented candles have a particular time and a place. Which is why I turned to dear friend and scented-candle expert Marjorie Gubelmann—Founder and CEO of Vie Luxe, the global home fragrance brand which is sold in over 1500 of the world’s most prestigious shops, apothecaries, and hotels—to discuss the do's and don'ts of scented candles. Read on for the candle guru's advice, plus my personal scented candle picks.

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Portrait of Marjorie courtesy of Vie Luxe

Marjorie's Scented Candle Do's & Don'ts:

DO place lightly scented candles in the bathroom and the powder room. No heavy perfume in these small spaces.

DON'T mix food and scented candles. Dining is a sensory experience. You don't want the aromas of the delicious meal you just whipped up competing with a candle's fragrance.

DON'T light a candle to mask an unpleasant odor. Cleaning should take care of the smell. Lighting a scented candle can actually make a bad odor worse.

DO opt for citrus notes in the kitchen, when you're not preparing a meal. A citrus candle will leave the kitchen with a fresh, clean feeling.

DO update your scents based on the season. Spring calls for florals!

Thanks, Marjorie! And here are some scented candles I'm loving right now. What are your favorites? Let me know in the comments.

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Smells like: patchouli-spiked peach blossom, peony, gardenia, tuberose, and cardamom. Bond No. 9 Chinatown Scented Candle, $95, bondno9.com.

1 Smells like: patchouli-spiked peach blossom, peony, gardenia, tuberose, and cardamom. Bond No. 9 Chinatown Scented Candle, $95, bondno9.com.

Smells like: cedar wood, vetiver and geranium. Patch NYC Ship Candle, $37, patchnyc.com.

2 Smells like: cedar wood, vetiver and geranium. Patch NYC Ship Candle, $37, patchnyc.com.

Smells like: jasmine, frangipani and sweet musk. Circa Home Jasmine & Magnolia Candle, $29.95, thecandleshoppe.com.

3 Smells like: jasmine, frangipani and sweet musk. Circa Home Jasmine & Magnolia Candle, $29.95, thecandleshoppe.com.

Smells like: sea and dune. Lafco Beach House Candle Set, $85, lafcony.com.

4 Smells like: sea and dune. Lafco Beach House Candle Set, $85, lafcony.com.

Smells like: citrus and caramel. Astier de Villatte Broadway Candle, $75, suefisherking.com.

5 Smells like: citrus and caramel. Astier de Villatte Broadway Candle, $75, suefisherking.com.

Smells like: green ivy, anjou pear, Moroccan rose, bamboo, musk. Malin + Goetz Absolute Rose Candle, $52, malinandgoetz.com

6 Smells like: green ivy, anjou pear, Moroccan rose, bamboo, musk. Malin + Goetz Absolute Rose Candle, $52, malinandgoetz.com

Smells like: lime, apple, muguet, jacaranda blossoms, sandalwood, cedar and musk. Dayna Decker Jacaranda Blossoms Candle, $71, daynadeckerstore.com.

7 Smells like: lime, apple, muguet, jacaranda blossoms, sandalwood, cedar and musk. Dayna Decker Jacaranda Blossoms Candle, $71, daynadeckerstore.com.

Smells like: garden mint, apple blossom and muguet. Nest Moss & Mint Candle, $32, shop.nestfragrances.com.

8 Smells like: garden mint, apple blossom and muguet. Nest Moss & Mint Candle, $32, shop.nestfragrances.com.

Smells like: Italian bergamot, fresh lemon blossoms, rich cypress & citrus zest. Vie Luxe Capri Candle, $48, saksfifthavenue.com

9 Smells like: Italian bergamot, fresh lemon blossoms, rich cypress & citrus zest. Vie Luxe Capri Candle, $48, saksfifthavenue.com

Smells like: sea grass & fresh air. Tocca Montauk Candle, $16, tocca.com.

10 Smells like: sea grass & fresh air. Tocca Montauk Candle, $16, tocca.com.

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Comments (13)

  • 2 candles I think should have been on your list.

    Henri Bendel Firewood 30.00 smells like a winter fire

    Molton Brown Re-Charge Black Pepper various prices depending on size.

  • Hi Kevin. Williams Sonoma Fleur de Sel and French Lavender candles are both really great for bathrooms. And I also like to use their Meyer Lemon candle in the kitchen after dinner when I'm cleaning up. But I'm not real big on candles either. Are there other forms of home fragrance that you use?

  • I usually prefer heating essential oils over a tealite.

  • Thanks so much Kevin ! I am highly sensitive to scents and it is tough when you go to someone's house. I like vanilla,apple and pine bc they are the most neutral and kind to my sinuses . Yankee candle is my fave as well but I do have to be careful bc some of them can be very poten

  • I have to say that the smell of candles I enjoy most is the subtle scent of real bees wax candles.
    Love your blog!!

  • Thank you so much very informative advice.

  • I used to be super sensitive to scent and lived an unscented life until my early 40's until I realized it's cheap scents that make me sick. I found several nice candle lines and now I really enjoy fragrance! I look forward to it. Now smelling things is exciting to me.

    I love to use diffusers in bathrooms since it isn't easy to keep an eye on a candle and diffusers provide a constant fragrance so it always smells nice. I also put a diffuser in my foyer so it smells nice when I come home or when unexpected company arrives. I love Antica diffusers. Votivo diffusers are uber potent if you need to scent a large space.

    I love to use room sprays for an extra punch of scent or to spray in the trash can or on the vacuum filter so it smells nice when I clean. They also work well on curtains to freshen the room when you open/close them.

    My favorite candle lines are Voluspa, Lafco and Aquiesse. I also love Belle Fleur, Aura, Red Flower, Herve Gambs, ODIN, the Historical Collection by Modern Alchemy and the Jonathan Adler Pop Collection. There are so many!

    I love fresh fragrances in the morning, in the kitchen and in warm weather. I love warm/cozy fragrances in cold weather and at night.

    To any scent-scardy-cats out there - don't be afraid. Fragrance is a beautiful thing when you find the right ones. When you find fragrances that fit, you'll want to embrace them rather than spit at them. Trust me! I'm still uber sensitive but really enjoy many fragrances now.

  • These are really good tips. Thanks for the useful info. I will keep these tips in mind when I get my next candle.

  • Great advice on scented candles and when to use them and when not to... especially about matching scents to the season.

  • Very good info on dos and don't of scented candles, especially to not burn them with food, which should never happen

  • This was very helpful tips, thank you. :)

  • Hi Kevin

    Thanks for the tips, I agree with you about the food, If you're going to use scented candles whilst having your tea use a subtle candle and not a fragrance that will make your food taste a little different :)

    Sarah

  • Great collection (i’d like to try all these candles).
    I’ll keep buying candles from other places, but my favorite scented candles are from Allure Home Fragrance. I enjoyed all the fragrances/candles that I tried from them

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