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Main Content

Setting the Mood | Winter 2015 Out Here Magazine

By Hollie Deese

Photography by Mark Mosrie

There is just something about the flickering warmth of a candle that creates a certain intimacy that can instantly transform a room. And with just the right accessories and arrangement, a grouping of candles can even evoke a sense of season.

Anna Rollings Blanton of Nashville-based Anna Rollings Design has had plenty of experience staging spaces to maximize their design aesthetic, and says using candles just the right way is an impactful way to create a mood.

“I don’t have a fireplace, so it sort of gives you that ambiance that an actual fire does, that inviting warmth,” she says.

She likes to stick with neutrals such as white and off-white almost exclusively so they can be used for any setting and situation throughout the year, but especially during the holiday season.

“That way you can decorate seasonally rather than holiday specific,” she says. “You may start with something really neutral and then adjust your details to suit Thanksgiving, Christmas or whatever.”

And if you always opt for neutral-colored candles, you can even transition into summer, although Anna usually scales back on indoor displays in warmer weather and uses candles more for outdoor gatherings.

Couture Clippings

The perfect way to showcase the season is to have candles act as accents to whatever greenery you are able to clip and gather from your own back yard.


“Whether you have a half acre or lots of land, there are all sorts of greenery you can clip, like hemlock, to use as a base to decorate with,” she says. “In the fall you have things like burning bush and acorns and pine cones and azalea that turn pretty colors. And when it gets to be winter time you can switch over to nandina berries and magnolia leaves and things like that.”


Fresh clippings will last for several days, and keeping candles behind glass will keep clippings from catching fire, she says.


Bonus? There is absolutely no storage involved. “You can throw it all away and you are not cluttering up your attic,” Anna adds.

Vintage Charm


Anna likes to collect vintage ornaments, and by clustering them around a grouping of candles, you can show them off in the best possible light.


“You can go to Goodwill, thrift shops, and antique stores,” she says of finding unique treasures, but you can also find the same look in newer pieces that embrace a retro vibe.


Of course, this is the best way to showcase any items that have been passed down in the family too.


“I have a collection of brass candlesticks that were my grandmother’s, probably about nine of them,” she says, “and while they are all different they make a great-looking tabletop.”


Play With Glass


Anna likes to keep some candles out in the open and others behind glass hurricanes to add a bit of visual interest.


“The way it reflects light creates something more formal,” she says.


She even likes mixing up the kinds of glass to vary the glow, sometimes using oil lanterns and lamps.


“You put the candle inside of a lantern and you get a totally different look. And with Mason jars there are all sorts of ways you can use them, like using a floating candle or getting a collection of them in all different sizes and shapes,” she says.


And flameless candles continue to gain in popularity, for good reason. They require no maintenance other than the rare battery change, basic styles last forever, and most of them look like the real, flickering thing.


Flameless candles also offer a bit of decorating safety.


“If you are using some flammable clippings like cedar, you might want to use those,” Anna says. “(They) can be unattended and some of them are really nice looking.”