To Wick or Not To Wick? That is Today's Staging Question

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Education & Training

As the holidays begin, I find myself enjoying the crisp air and the scents of the season. I have recently discovered a wonderful new scent from Partylite called "Iced Snowberries". LOVE IT! Right this minute, I probably have at least a dozen of these candles burning. I can do this while my children are not home :) I find myself staring into the flame wondering about the damage that these little beauties can cause. Obviously, for me, the beauty and serenity of these candles far out weighs the liability of lighting them.

Cocoon Online Shop

Which brought me to this post. I recently wrote a post about Stagers taking pride in their work. (You can read it here) Amongst the comments, Terry Haugen commented that she had "found that unlit cinnamon candles give a house a fresh scent without making that "perfume"statement." That's all it took!

Stephanie Heron-Weeber


Stephanie Heron-Weeber wrote a wonderful post about dewicking candles and the liability of even staging with candles back in May. Because of her post and the responses to the tangent off my post, I thought maybe the topic needs to be discussed again. Seems like we all have an opinion on the subject (just like everything else, huh?)

To be honest, I hadn't thought much about it...until another stager shared a story with me about a home owner lighting the candles for an open house. Unfortunately, when the open house was over, all of the candles were not extinguished. Yes, there was a fire - but thankfully, only minor damage.

Perhaps this is one area that we, as stagers, need to take a little more seriously. It's probably right up there with the liability of staging with items that could be considered weapons (i.e., "real" glasses, "real" silverware, etc).

When you stage a property using candles ... Do you leave the wick in, trim the wick so it's rendered "un-lightable" (I know it's not a real word, but it does sound kind of like one) or do you remove the wick in its entirety?


Calie Waterhouse

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Rainmaker
420,201
Melissa Marro
Watson Realty Corp - Saint Augustine, FL
St Augustine, St Johns, Ponte Vedra
I don't de-wick either.... I do, however, light my candles when I leave them.  I hate the look of fresh unburnt candles.  They are neither warm nor inviting!  I try to set them out early on and let them burn for at least 30 minutes before I leave....
Nov 29, 2007 09:34 PM #14
Ambassador
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Mike Jones
SUNSTREET MORTGAGE, LLC (BK-0907366, NMLS 145171) - Tucson, AZ
Mike Jones NMLS 223495

Calie,

I love your new photo / brand with those lovely eyes and the red signature!  I need to call you today re staging.  Does my choice of right justification mean I'm a right wing guy?  Nah!

Mike in Tucson

Nov 30, 2007 08:10 AM #15
Rainer
136,080
Gayle Balaban
The Best Spot Realty/Waterfront Real Estate/Ooltewah Real E - Chattanooga, TN
E. TN Waterfront Real Estate
In today's litigious society you can never be too careful.  I think that cutting the wicks off is a good idea.
Nov 30, 2007 09:37 AM #16
Rainer
55,837
Calie Waterhouse
Chandler, AZ
Education & Promotion Specialist

Melissa - I'm smiling as I write this - I'm seeing you light the candles just before you leave (and not extinguish them) ...  Wouldn't that be something?  I like your reasoning about never-been-lit candles not being warm nor inviting.  Never heard it put like that - but really does seem to make sense.  Thanks!

Mike - That whole right justification thing is just weird!  Something new? Oh, thanks for the compliment.

Gayle - We either cut the wicks off or pull them out.  You're right - we just can't be too careful. 

Nov 30, 2007 01:36 PM #17
Rainer
52,988
Abby Roselli
ALR Home Staging and Showcasing, LLC - Staten Island, NY
Staten Island Home Stager

Thanks for posting this Calie...I missed the previous write ups and never thought about cutting back the wicks.  I will do that from now on!  I'm with Maureen---I always bring in Apple, Vanilla and Cinnamon---and sometimes Coffee, too.  They all smell like 'HOME' to me.

Anyone use the electric wax-tart burners?  I use mine at home all the time (you can leave them unattended unlike those that use tea lights) but was wondering if anyone used them in their stagings.

Nov 30, 2007 08:16 PM #18
Rainer
55,837
Calie Waterhouse
Chandler, AZ
Education & Promotion Specialist
Great question, Abby.  Anyone? Opinions?
Nov 30, 2007 08:52 PM #19
Rainer
216,366
Anthea Click
Fresh Perspectives - www.InsideNashvilleHomes.com - Franklin, TN
Nashville Home Stager - Selling Nashville, TN homes quickly!

Calie,

I use the battery operated candle pillars. They are about $12-$15 each, but well worth the investment. I'd hate to be liable for any fires and I like the glow of the candles too much.

Dec 03, 2007 01:21 PM #20
Rainer
13,637
Trisha Lane
Simple Inspiration Home Staging - Portland, OR
Simple Inspiration Portland Oregon

I love to use candles in my staging.  They provide a nice aroma that most homes need to create warmth. 

I always remove the wick and if it cannot be removed I cut it so it cannot be lit.  The stories that have been told of realtors and homeowners lighting the candles at open houes is true.  It has happend to a couple close stager friends.  It's always better to be safe than sorry.

Thanks for bringing it up.

Trish Lane,

Simple Inspiration Home Staging

Dec 03, 2007 11:16 PM #21
Rainer
55,837
Calie Waterhouse
Chandler, AZ
Education & Promotion Specialist

Anthea - It's been a while since I've seen you around these parts. Hope business is delightfully booming!  I'm hearing more and more about the battery operated candles - seems like it may be a direction more of us need to consider.  Thanks - Calie

Trisha -  I too absolutely love candles - all shapes, sizes, scents (most of them) and colors.  Honestly, I don't think I've ever staged a house with them.  We do have a dewick policy and when we put them in lived-in homes, we do require the home seller to initial our agreement (that says if they light them, they're responsible).  Thanks for sharing - Calie

Dec 04, 2007 07:27 AM #22
Anonymous
Anonymous

I'm one of those that are allergic to the smells, at the mall I run by the candle shop.  If I walk into a room with a smell I can have a migraine headache within seconds, or have an asthma attack.   However vanilla and coffee, and other food smells are OK. 

i'd hate to have a buyer leave a house because of the smell of a candle, so we don't use them, unless they are scentless.

Becky

Dec 04, 2007 07:57 AM #23
Rainer
55,837
Calie Waterhouse
Chandler, AZ
Education & Promotion Specialist
Great point, Becky.  As stagers, isn't it our goal to encourage potential buyers to linger in the home?  I would hate to think my staging is scaring people away. Yikes!
Dec 04, 2007 09:33 AM #24
Rainer
216,366
Anthea Click
Fresh Perspectives - www.InsideNashvilleHomes.com - Franklin, TN
Nashville Home Stager - Selling Nashville, TN homes quickly!
Calie,
I have been slammed! Business is booming and I am so thankful. Thanks for noticing I have been absent from my dear friends here in the Rain. I've felt so disconnected and am just now getting back into the swing of things.
Dec 04, 2007 03:29 PM #25
Rainer
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Gina McNew
diva la difference interiors - Atlanta, GA
Host of Diva in the House - The Voice of Real Estate Staging Radio

Hi Callie;

    I would like to offer two non-candle remedies.  The infusion lamps are WONDERFUL.  You light it and blow it out...the stones stay hot and that is what releases the fragrance until the lid is put back on.  They can last for hours on end...worst case scenario, someone leaves it to burn too long causing the stone to dry out.  I always buy extra stones.  The other is those scented reeds in the bottles.  Both of these offer fragrances like vanilla, cinnamon and my own personal favorite is one that smells like sugar cookies baking.  I have never heard anyone walk past a bakery saying they hated that smell.  I am fortunate because I can buy them at the Mart at wholesale.  They could get fairly expensive. To me they are well worth any expense however.  I use them in my own home all the time.  I have a few different infusion lamps with different scents.  I light the one that I am most in the mood for.  When a cable man goes to leave your house and he turns to ask what in the world it is that you are using in your home to make it smell that great...well that says something.  I have written the name of the product for more men who can't wait to go home and tell their wives about them.  As to the comment about un lit wicks...I know I was always taught that a candle with a blackened wick was a sign of welcome.  May be a southern thing, but I always blacken the wicks on candles. 

Dec 15, 2007 10:37 PM #26
Rainer
36,709
Kelly Townsend
Coldwell Banker - Santa Rosa, CA
CDPE, Realtor

Callie -

I trim my wicks. I heard where a stager was sued because a realtor lit a candle and left it burning and the house burned down. I'm considering putting it in my contract that no candles are to be lit. Better safe than sorry. I love to use candles and will continue to do so. I think unlit they still give off a little fragrance and still give that ambiance.

Dec 16, 2007 12:26 AM #27
Rainmaker
202,445
Mary Lou Teague
HOME STYLE AND STAGING LLC - Knoxville, TN
Home Style and Staging Knoxville. TN

I agree that you cannot be too careful, trimming back the wicks is a good idea or de-wicking them. I have had the homeowners use the candles and then when I went back to "plump up" the staging I had to replace the candles. Leaving a card stating "Burn at your own risk" or simply having the wording in the contract is an excellent idea. I will be adding this to my contact. Great advise and thanks for bringing this to "Light"...

Dec 16, 2007 08:55 AM #28
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Mike Jones
SUNSTREET MORTGAGE, LLC (BK-0907366, NMLS 145171) - Tucson, AZ
Mike Jones NMLS 223495

Calie,

I used candles in my latest listing (see the Real Estate Show in my AR post a few days back) and pulled the wick out of each candle with a pair of pliers!  See you in May!

Mike in Tucson

Jan 06, 2008 12:14 AM #29
Rainmaker
636,426
Cindy Bryant
Redesign Etc. Home Staging - Houston, TX
"Houston Home Staging Pro's"
A Hot Topic, no pun intended!  I have left in past, but I think I will remove in the future.
Jan 06, 2008 05:58 PM #30
Rainer
15,462
Kathy Somers
Stage it First - Toronto, ON
Stage it First Home Staging

I am just learning about this no wick thing!! I have honestly never thought that I would be liable if someone lit the candles that I had placed and then started a fire. What if the homeowner has their own candles and you use them as part of the staging? Would you still be liable? Are the rules different here in Canada? Many questions...anyone have some more answers?

Great post!

Jan 06, 2008 06:43 PM #31
Rainer
6,743
Mary DeBella
Northwest Staging & Redesign - West Linn, OR

Callie-

This intrigued me because I too have had agents light my candles for open houses!  When I discovered this - OMG - how rude!  I was pretty surprised as EVERY candle throughout the house had been lit.  When I went to destage, the candles around the bathtub had been completely burned down, dripping over the edges of the tall candlestick!  This agent has been a very good client however, and at this point I have decided not to make it an issue.   The candle wax came off easily and it wasn't a huge problem (or investment on my part).  I have since put a line in my contract about such things and hope that clients read it.  The liability issue is great, and one that needs to be addressed with many things!

Thanks for the post.

Mary 

Jan 06, 2008 07:50 PM #32
Rainer
27,525
Paula Springer
Key Elements Inc. Home Staging & Interiors - Portland, OR
A.S.P.

Wow ! The wick question has raised a very good point. Like Mary and others before her, I would not be happy if someone lit my candles for reasons of potential damage to the property, and for reasons of potential damage to my own staging props, not to mention loss of future use of the candle itself. I do have language in my contracts covering damages and requiring all props be returned in the condition they were delivered in. Am now ready to revise that so it gets initialed by the client, like the car rental places that have you initial parts of contracts. Bottom-line: de-wicking I will go! Seems like the best policy.

 

Jan 06, 2008 09:17 PM #33
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Calie Waterhouse

Education & Promotion Specialist
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