Candles! Candles! Everywhere! Candles!

If people in New York can agree on liking one thing, that thing is complaining. While I know that sounds wildly unbecoming, those living in this fine city have mastered a type of whining that comes off more as commiseration than misery. “Can you believe how long this line is?” you might ask the person behind you in the line at Starbucks on 6th Avenue. What you really mean is, “I’m seriously about to shit myself and the pain in my stomach right now is totally unbearable and my life is awful and I think I might lay down and die please pity me.” But phrased as a question, said person might respond with something like “I know, it’s totally unreasonable,” or “the management here is atrocious,” or “and my coffee tastes burned.” Maybe they mean “Oh, I hadn’t really noticed but I’ll humor you,” or “I agree, this is the worst thing that’s ever happened to either one of us!” or “my girlfriend is in love with someone else.” But the point is, you’re talking to this person now, and therefore, you are community-building. You’re making friends.

The importance of the communal-kvetch cannot be understated. It is our lifeblood. I literally cannot think of a single more noble cause than perpetuating it. Aside from, like, ending hunger and homelessness and making sure that two beautiful Fort Lauderdale drag queens can marry and adopt a beautiful drag-baby. I want all of that for the world, but I also want more constructive kvetching.

While the beauty of the communal-kvetch is that it can unfold on any day, at any time, in any location, throw a little inclement weather into the mix and you’ve really got something. Weather is just such an easy target, and it’s good almost year-round. It’s as though we’ve never experienced anything outside of 70 and sunny. But we don’t live in LA, we live in New York, and therefore every year we experience a bout of frigid temperature instead of a bout of collagen injections. In the spring months, we wax poetic about choosing this coast because we “just love having seasons!” but really, we just like to complain about the seasons. “How are you today?” a shopkeeper asks. “Cold as tits!” you respond. “I know, it’s horrendous outside!” And you’ve got a kvetch on your hands. Your toes may be full of frostbite, but your heart will be warmed, and that’s all that matters.

The point is this: isn’t it so cold and miserable outside? Don’t you dread walking your dogs and facing this wall of icy terror waiting for you? Don’t you wish you owned a better jacket and a decent pair of thick socks? Can we please be friends I’m so lonely?

I don’t know what’s happened this winter, but I’ve become obsessed with having candles lit all the time as soon as it gets dark out. Candles in the fireplace. Candles on the coffee table. Candles on the credenza and on the kitchen counters and…I love fire. I’m finding that it’s making this weather way more bearable and way prettier, which is why I bring it up.

Candles are so warm and pretty and cheap. I exclusively buy IKEA brand candles, so each one is like 2.4 cents for hours of merriment and enjoyment and feeling less like I live in a tundra post-apocalypse wasteland and more like a cozy yurt that also gets cable? Yeah, I dig winter this year. And candles are my secret. (also, television.) (and warm dogs.)


The main impetus of this post (before I got sidetracked) was really just to make note of these wonderful little candlesticks I picked up at CB2 yesterday. They are deliciously simple and deliciously brassy and deliciously adorable and deliciously only $5. Delicious.

They’re also a really nice substantial weight and seem like great quality. Also, they’re so cute! And so cheap! And I want to buy 4,000 of them! For no reason! I’m also seriously regretting not buying a couple of the black ones and a couple of the tiny acid-yellow version (they were greener IRL than they look in that picture, but still cute). You know, to round out the hoard. I mean why not. They’re so small.


The other candleholders that have been making the winter days better are these Nappula candlesticks by Matti Klenell from iittala! These were sent to me as a lovely Christmas present from the Finnish Design Shop, all the way from Finland! I swear I’m not, like, rolling in swag over here, but the very kind folks at the Finnish Design Shop emailed me in December asking for my address because they wanted to send me a little something to show their appreciation for the blog, and who was I to refuse that? So I sent it, thinking maybe this was just spam or maybe this was a serial killer who knew my weakness for all things Scandinavian, but in fact it was beautiful candlesticks! I really love them and I’m honest-t0-goodness very touched that they contacted me at all, not to mention sent me something so great.

(note: Finnish Design Shop did not ask for anything in exchange for the candleholders. They’re just super nice people!)


IKEA PS Tealight Holder is still going strong, although I moved it out of the fireplace after everyone who reads my blog told me how bad they looked in there. Thanks for keeping me on the straight and narrow, you guys.

Brass, teak, marble, cork, white ceramic, vintage rug. Feelin’ it. Winter, yo.

PS- I keep forgetting to mention (doh!) that I’ve been writing a little Before & After cleaning-focused column over at Design*Sponge! It’s been a blast writing for Grace and the team, so if you feel like it, go check out the posts!

1. Building Your Cleaning Arsenal
2. Cleaning Vintage Metal Hardware
3. Cleaning and Restoring Marble

About Daniel Kanter

Hi, I'm Daniel, and I love houses! I'm a serial renovator, DIY-er, and dog-cuddler based in Kingston, New York. Follow along as I bring my 1865 Greek Revival back to life and tackle my 30s to varying degrees of success. Welcome!

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  1. 1.25.13
    Rachel said:

    This winter I have been candle obsessed too, and my entertainment center is overflowing with candles– I need to get a handle on things!

    P.S. Is Max writing for design*sponge too? (Is it creepy that I can recognize him?! I think I need some friends)

    • 1.25.13
      Daniel said:

      Not creepy at all, Rachel! He’s such a ham with the cameras, haha. Max actually works almost full-time at Design*Sponge now! He started interning at the beginning of last summer and they hired him for part-time in the fall. Needless to say, he loves his job.

  2. 1.25.13

    The communal kvetch is sort of the foundation of our entire friendship, and that’s totally fine by me.

    You know what else I like about waiting on line in NYC? When there’s one person there who isn’t complaining within the group, but is instead just loudly complaining to either no one or directly to the people working behind the counter. That’s against the rules unless there’s already been a group agreement to take action! I love seeing the whole group then turn their ire away from the source of the root problem and instead direct it toward the rogue complainer, e.g., “Give them a break, man, it’s busy in here! You’re not going to die if you have to wait another 2 minutes for your coffee.” And then everyone feels happy and smug. It’s beautiful.

    • 1.25.13
      Daniel said:

      hahahaha, you are so right! Thank you for adding another layer of complexity and subtlety to this important social issue.

    • 1.25.13
      Jill said:

      Is that meta kvetching? Kvetching about the kvetcher?

    • 1.25.13
      Kay* said:

      “waiting on line…” before our dinner I totally would have raised my eye brows at that ;-)

  3. 1.25.13

    Here in San Diego, it’s almost a communal “enthuse about how nice the weather is” thing 90% of the time, instead of a communal kvetch. We are so terribly upbeat and annoying! I hope things warm up for you soon!
    Truth is, though, I tried to stick it out in cold climates for a few years but really, really couldn’t take it. Kudos to all New Yorkers for being more rugged than I’ll ever be.

  4. 1.25.13

    I read your post, blacked out and woke up to a order confirmation from CB2 in my email. Oh VEY!

  5. 1.25.13
    Robin Cailloux said:

    Did you notice that someone over at CB2 is into Game of Thrones? The candlesticks are names drohgo, bronn, and kalisi. Ha! Love it! And love your blog- I just found it through design sponge.

    • 1.25.13
      Daniel said:

      Hahaha, I still have never seen Game of Thrones!! That’s too funny.

      (and thank you!!)

  6. 1.25.13
    ERica said:


    I just found your site through design sponge and I am dying. I feel like I have fallen into a worm hole of DIY home happiness and I can’t find my way out. (nor do I want to!)

    I love in Brooklyn and am in the process of turning my rental apartment into a dream home and I would like to be your best friend. Please consider this.

  7. 1.25.13
    Heather said:

    So I don’t think it’s your thing, but perhaps there’s something out there like this mini fireplace that might solve the fireplace problem, AND your love of fire/candles at the same time?

    • 1.25.13
      Daniel said:

      Yeah, I don’t know…I just can’t see something like that looking right. I’ve never really seen a design I like, and I feel like the whole thing might just be too fussy, you know? Candles are just so much easier!

  8. 1.25.13

    Every day Copenhagen wakes up with a 90% chance of shitty weather. And yet everyone here still complains about it every day, and it’s winter for like a majority of the year. Go figure! Whenever I go to Ikea I think I buy maybe 5 boxes of those candles, they make 4pm sunsets a little easier.

  9. 1.25.13
    Alexis said:

    You’d feel right at home in London too. Moaning and commenting on the weather. Although we don’t really talk to each other, just make faces instead. It’s interesting trying to make friends with people via facial expressions alone.

  10. 1.25.13
    Ros said:

    Montreal does social kvetching as well, but it tends to be icy-polite when actually aimed at someone: it comes off as oddly British, complete with Judgey Looks (my sister’s specialty; able to shut up college students from across a library).

    Candles are absolutely the key to happiness. -30 degree weather seems less cold when surrounded by lit candles and warm pets.

  11. 1.25.13
    Anne said:

    Daniel….you really are a great writer. You make me chuckle like Sedaris and Burroughs. Write a book! And you’ve not tweeted anything about AHS finale. Old Lana.

    • 1.25.13
      Daniel said:

      Thanks such a nice compliment, Anne! Maybe someday…

      AHS!! So, I wasn’t that impressed with the finale overall (it just felt kind of…flat to me), but I loved the season overall. And Sarah Paulson was wonderful throughout, including as old Lana. My love for that show basically knows no bounds!

  12. 1.25.13
    Nancy said:

    I used to burn a lot of candles… till a neighbor in my townhouse building had a major fire that destroyed his unit. Caused by blowing out a candle and leaving a spark smoldering in the rug.

    Now I’m too uncomfortable to burn them anymore. Be sure you always snuff candles out instead of blowing them.

    But ooooh, would love something like that indoor/outdoor fireplace. Probably never will though.

  13. 1.25.13
    Iris Vank said:

    I’ve got those Iittala candle sticks too, one in brass. My mum (who loves to force gifts on me) was adamant to give them. It was so hard to say no, so I didn’t. And I love them so much I kind of want to lick them. Didn’t do it yet though.

  14. 1.25.13
    Tanya said:

    Super thrilled to have run into you at the Canal stop. I, too, love those little candlesticks! They’re so sleek. Do keep in mind that you’ve got a contact with a discount here. Although, they’re pretty inexpensive to begin with…

    • 1.25.13
      Daniel said:

      It was so nice to meet you, Tanya!! I looked for you when I was in the store, but I don’t think you were there! (just to say hi, not for a discount! haha!)

      Thank you again for the mugs. It was so sweet of you and they’ve been put to good use!

  15. 1.26.13
    Harriet said:

    Sounds like New Yorkers and Brits have complaining about the weather in common. What we don’t have in common is fabulous shops selling wonderfully cheap and beautifully designed bits and bobs for the home. My mantle is crying out for two Drohgos and my kitchen table just won’t shut up about how much it needs the small white tri-taper candle holder. ( Alas, my purse doesn’t need £20 shipping and taxes. Big sad :(

  16. 1.26.13
    Nicole said:

    Your writing just gets better and better!
    Love this post – and so wish I could order from CB2.

  17. 1.26.13
    nicolezh said:

    As a longtime D*S reader I already noticed your post there and saw Max’s introduction to knitting. So if you have a boyfriend already knitting, make him knit a pair of warm socks for you! Winter is soooo much more bearable with the right pair of handknitted socks a loved one made just for you!
    Hint to Max: Grab your DPNs and make this poor boy warm feet!

  18. 1.26.13
    gardenbre said:

    Nichol I totally agree w you – this writing – HAHAHA – a (and how awful about the blown spark on the rug) yes – use snuffers always!

  19. 1.26.13
    Katariina said:

    It’s nice that you appreciate finnish desing :)

  20. 1.26.13
    Jeanne said:

    I read those articles on DesignSponge not knowing you were the author. They were wonderful and,k especially during the marble and metal articles, it crossed my mind mind several times that they were just like reading Manhattan Nest! The results were fabulous.

  21. 1.27.13
    Otto said:

    You haven’t lived until you’ve had candles on a chrismas tree:

    Not as dangerous as it sounds…ever try to light a christmas tree on fire? Unless you wait until July when the needles are all brown, it won’t burn. Just keep paper ornaments away from the candle holders.

    The candles don’t drip and they completely burn up–you only have to pull out a tiny chunk of remaining wick to reload the holders.

    Unfortunately it is pretty hard to find the candle holders for sale in the US. A few places seem to sell the candles, but lightweight candle-holders like in that picture are pretty rare–definitely grab them if you see them at a flea market or thrift store.

  22. 1.28.13
    Carmina said:

    Come on over to Texas for some warmer weather! Careful though, the weather here in Dallas can change in a matter of hours.

  23. 1.28.13
    Lindsay J said:

    You seriously make me laugh out loud with every post. Thank you for making my day (and my life worth living).

  24. 1.28.13
    Shannon said:

    I seriously need to learn to not read your posts while on conference calls because I can’t stop laughing and now I think I’m going to pee my pants.

    Thank you for that (the laugh, not the pee)! :)


  25. 1.30.13
    Erin said:

    She’s so beautiful. I too have known the love of many pitbulls. They are my spirit animals.

  26. 1.31.13
    Krystle said:

    Oh my, those candlestick holders from cb2 are seriously adorable! I have a major candle problem, but I may just have to add these to the collection :)

    Thanks for sharing,

  27. 2.2.13
    Jacqui said:

    I found your blog through your guest spots on Design*Sponge, and just wanted to say that reading it is such a delight!

  28. 2.8.13
    Johanna said:

    I don’t know what you have in your non-functional fireplace at the moment, or even if you’d prefer it to function? But in my (much smaller) fireplace I’ve put this ethanol fire-thing that is meant for tables. I live in Sweden but I’m sure you have something like it in the US. I kept the glass for my curious dog and it is perfect.

  29. 2.9.13
    Jack said:

    Can anyone send you a gift?