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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Comments 33 New Comment

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Rainmaker
420,174
Melissa Marro
St Augustine, St Johns, Ponte Vedra
Watson Realty Corp
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....
November 29, 2007 09:34 PM
Ambassador
716,652
Mike Jones
Mike Jones NMLS 223495
SUNSTREET MORTGAGE, LLC (BK-0907366, NMLS 145171)

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

November 30, 2007 08:10 AM
Rainer
136,132
Gayle Balaban
E. TN Waterfront Real Estate
The Best Spot Realty/Waterfront Real Estate/Ooltewah Real E
In today's litigious society you can never be too careful.  I think that cutting the wicks off is a good idea.
November 30, 2007 09:37 AM
Rainer
54,943
Calie Waterhouse
Business Coach

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. 

November 30, 2007 01:36 PM
Rainer
52,986
Abby Roselli
Staten Island Home Stager
ALR Home Staging and Showcasing, LLC

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.

November 30, 2007 08:16 PM
Rainer
54,943
Calie Waterhouse
Business Coach
Great question, Abby.  Anyone? Opinions?
November 30, 2007 08:52 PM
Rainer
208,862
Anthea Click
Nashville Home Stager - Selling Nashville, TN homes quickly!
Fresh Perspectives - www.InsideNashvilleHomes.com

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.

December 03, 2007 01:21 PM
Rainer
13,637
Trisha Lane
Simple Inspiration Portland Oregon
Simple Inspiration Home Staging

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

December 03, 2007 11:16 PM
Rainer
54,943
Calie Waterhouse
Business Coach

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

December 04, 2007 07:28 AM
Anonymous #23
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

December 04, 2007 07:57 AM
Rainer
54,943
Calie Waterhouse
Business Coach
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!
December 04, 2007 09:33 AM
Rainer
208,862
Anthea Click
Nashville Home Stager - Selling Nashville, TN homes quickly!
Fresh Perspectives - www.InsideNashvilleHomes.com
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.
December 04, 2007 03:29 PM
Rainer
35,555
Gina McNew
Host of Diva in the House - The Voice of Real Estate Staging Radio
diva la difference interiors

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. 

December 15, 2007 10:37 PM
Rainer
36,709
Kelly Townsend
CDPE, Realtor
Coldwell Banker

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.

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

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"...

December 16, 2007 08:55 AM
Ambassador
716,652
Mike Jones
Mike Jones NMLS 223495
SUNSTREET MORTGAGE, LLC (BK-0907366, NMLS 145171)

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

January 06, 2008 12:14 AM
Rainmaker
634,595
Cindy Bryant
"Houston Home Staging Pro's"
Redesign Etc. Home Staging
A Hot Topic, no pun intended!  I have left in past, but I think I will remove in the future.
January 06, 2008 05:58 PM
Rainer
15,462
Kathy Somers
Stage it First Home Staging
Stage it First

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!

January 06, 2008 06:43 PM
Rainer
6,743
Mary DeBella
Northwest Staging & Redesign

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 

January 06, 2008 07:50 PM
Rainer
27,515
Paula Springer
A.S.P.
Key Elements Inc. Home Staging & Interiors

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.

 

January 06, 2008 09:17 PM
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Rainer
54,943

Calie Waterhouse

Business Coach
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