Winter does have some advantages to offset its doldrums. On one hand, this season delivers frigid temperatures, gray and gloomy days, and “blink and you’ll miss them” daylight hours. But on the flipside, the chilliest season comforts me with fleece-lined slippers, hearty soups, and crackling fires. I’ll never turn down an opportunity to get cozy in front of our fireplace. Although, when I’m not in the living room watching flames dance in the firebox, I turn to candlelight.

Much like paint that most designers will agree is the most cost-effective way to alter a room, candles, even in their most generic form, are the easiest way to achieve ambience. I always have votives, tea lights, tapers, and pillars in white and ivory on-hand. In mass quantities, they form instant elegance dotted around a table that I’ve schemed into style, selecting from my inventory of dining beauties. Whether the people who surround my table are members of my family or friends (remember those days when we had friends over?), they look magically aglow in the shadow of the golden flame.

I’ll discuss candles infused with fragrances in a bit, but right now I want to talk about scentless candles and the candlesticks that elevate them from basic to high design. Candlesticks can have a lot of personality and are miniature forms of art—sculptures that define a theme or mood. I’m always drawn to the classics that have been updated to modern-day glamour. Brass for instance, is synonymous with luxury and quality. And knowing that there is a plethora of classic brass silhouettes out there for me to collect, right now my instincts take me to forms that beam with modernity and whimsy. Here, I’ve found a 4-candle holder that loops a brass tube into chic decoration. And my love affair with Palm Beach makes palm tree candlesticks a temporary solution when I’m longing for a vacation in the sunshine state.

You probably remember the SNL skit a few Christmases back that poked fun at the proverbial candles that most women have in their gift closets for gift-giving emergencies. True as that may be, there is something so lovely about receiving a scented candle and burning it for the first time to reveal the scent, especially when it is poured into a pretty vessel that can serve as a keepsake later. I oftentimes used these emptied containers as a small vase for my vanity or a holder for pens and pencils on my desk. When I give a candle, I try to choose scents that remind me of the recipient. Scents that are sophisticated and subtle. I love the classic Dyptique “Baies and Ambre.” I also love Lafco and of course the scent of my household growing up, Rigaud.  My current fave is our AR Interiors signature scented candle that permeates the air with white tea and thyme.  It has a subtle fresh clean scent that does not overpower.

Don’t stop with a beautifully scented candle when you are upping your flame game. Match strikes are the hottest, literally, accessory in candle accessories. The vintage world is bursting with old match strikes in bronze and pewter. But my love of color takes me to the newest ones, crystal orbs with hand-cut facets and brass cubes embellished with slices of malachite.

One of the most important principles that I learned in my early years, was “less is more.” But when it comes to candles, I think the more the better. Whichever you choose, be it a collection of simple all-white tapers to light an evening dinner with family, or a single candle in the sweetest perfume to gift to a friend, candles warm the soul, warm the heart, and make the surroundings special. Now go strike a match!