Flameless Candles.
Not just for candleholders.


Orkney Rough Linen duvet cover


I love candles.  The only problem with them is that candles, even the cleanest burning ones, make a mess of your ceiling.  Plus of course, there are certain places burning a candle would be unsafe.  Like under the slanted ceiling over the mantle in my bedroom (as you can see in the photo above).  Plus anywhere children, cats or other things that cartwheel could knock a candle over.

So when flameless candles came out I was happy.  When flameless candles with timers came out I was ecstatic.  When flameless candles with  real looking flickering flames were introduced I spontaneously started tap dancing and my hair turned curly.


So along with real candles, my house is also filled with flameless candles that I know I can switch on without the worry of having to blow them out before I run to the store or out to chop wood.  I love them.

Until I don’t.  Every so often, randomly,  without warning,  I do not love them at all.

A few times a year I look at my flameless candles and think bleh.  BLEH.  That is NOT a real candle it’s a fake candle and the only thing worse than a fake candle is a fake cupcake.

If you too go through the same love hate relationship with flameless candles give this a try.

It’s not complicated.  It’s not genius.  But it does have a great effect.

Drop those candles into an opaque or almost opaque container and let them glow.





Look for things like bowls, vases, even wicker baskets work great.  Then place them up on something high where you don’t look straight down into them.  When looking head on, you want to see the glow, not the candle.  Because they just look weird inside.  They work especially well under a slanted ceiling like I have because the glow hits the ceiling, but it would also be a great effect on floating shelves, or inside a bookcase.



 For those of you wondering that’s a cheap electric fireplace that you can get on Amazon for around $150 with an antique brass fireplace insert.

These candles and the electric fireplace are all on timers to come on at 7 o’clock so when I wander up to my bedroom for whatever reason throughout the night it’s all warm and inviting with no chance of burning the house down unless I happen to wander into the bedroom drunk with a flamethrower.

I’m sure I’ll get to the point where I love the flameless candle again but for now this is what I’m going with.

These are the great flameless candles with flickering flames I talked about earlier in case you haven’t seen them before. They start at about $25 each for a pillar candle so about the same price as a ridiculously expensive candle, but it’ll last forever.












Ideas don’t have to be complicated to be good.  They just have to be good.


  1. Gail Dedrick says:

    You may have convinced me on the candles. I’ve avoided them like the plague up until now, but I found some tapers at Goodwill where the ‘flame’ is inset into the candle like it burned down and I’m surprised by how much I like them. If could find some battery powered ones with timers that would be a fantastic way to have renters who arrive at night come into my Catskills cottage. Again, thank you for the inspiration. In fact, you inspired my BFF, who turned me onto you, to get chickens – including buying the same plans for the coop – and I will reap the rewards of her spare eggs. Frankly, I think I may have the better end of the deal on that but maybe I will be seduced some day, as well. Thank you for everything!

  2. Gail Dedrick says:

    After seeing this post I decided that I need to find a fireplace surround and mantel for my backyard studio. I had a fake electric stove, but even though it sat on a piece of bluestone, it looked fake and somehow wrong – no stovepipe. Lo and behold, the very next barn sale I went to I found a fake fireplace with a metal firebox and … and hole in the back for whatever electric thing you wanted to plug-in. Some white and black paint and behold …

    Thank you for the inspiration! You are now the only ‘lifestyle’ blog I read. The. Best.

    • Karen says:

      That looks BEAUTIFUL. Not just the fireplace, the hole room, everything. NICE job. Love it. ~ karen!

  3. Susan says:

    I love the one in the shallow dish. Looks like ambers in a bowl.

  4. denise says:

    Thanks for the info! I live in northern Florida and would likely use it for heat in the winter as it snowed here last year and we had a blanket of icicles on everything!

  5. Sarah Homann says:

    I just bought 24 votive candles with timer! Needed 18 for a crazy candelabra from Wisteria..I’m feelin em. They look great no worries ! The clock is ticking…when it comes time to replace those pesky,not cheap button batteries….I may swear off the fakes..until then,,looks fabulous

  6. Jean says:

    I wish I had your eye for design. I wish I had anyone’s eye for design. It wasn’t easy, but one day a few years ago I finally admitted I don’t have one, and my house still looks like I just moved out and am living with hand-me-downs from my mom.

  7. denise says:

    Hi, brand new here..i read an article in Sunday’s paper about Karen, so here I am..my question is a little off topic..in general, does an electric firplace add much to your monthly bill If you run it daily for about 3 hours? I would love the ambiance along with the candles.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Denise. Welcome to The Art of Doing Stuff! So I’d say the fireplace adds next to nothing to your electric bill if you don’t run the heater portion of it. If you’re just looking for ambiance, the only thing that’s running are 2 lightbulbs. They’re what make the flickering flames. (at least that’s the case with a model like mine) It really is nice having it come on automatically. Plus you’ll probably only be doing it through the fall and winter months. Hope that helps. ~ karen!

  8. Liz says:

    without even thinking, my brain started singing “Let it glow! let it glowwww..let it glowww, let it gloww..! ” that Frozen song is actually an infection.

  9. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    Well..it’s about time we get a glimpse of your bedroom..the fireplace looks very nice and I love that wonky shaped bowl..Ernie is staring at the fireplace like there is a mouse in there..lol..

  10. maggie van sickle says:

    Have these candles and yes I love them have not learned to hate them yet but if I do I will use the containers. Love your bedroom so inviting and have read the book on the bottom of the pile can’t remember the title. I think “And The Mountains Echoed” Something like that. I read the Kite Runner as well and enjoyed both. Take care.

  11. Beau says:

    From a guys perspective, these are nice for decorations, but can also be used during a power outage. They will give you enough light to see in a room, and also be more cheery than sitting in the dark.

  12. tajicat says:

    I bought a couple of flameless candles soon after they came out, only at a dollar store. They were cheap and I needed something when our power goes out, which happens at times yearly. Mine have a slight vanilla scent still after years of use, the “flame” is farther down so unless it is on the coffee table you don’t see it and it is pretty similar to the real candles and it flickers. It doesn’t have a timer but I usually only use them for an hour or two, but my son likes them better, and it is healthier for he and I since we have asthma (our allergist told me not to use candles). I have a houseful of pets, so definitely safer than the real thing.

  13. Cynthia says:

    Mary Werner…You can stop an episode of collapsing trachea really quickly and safely. It is usually triggered by
    nerves or excitement. Just hold the dog’s little snout closed gently while at the same time, lightly pressing the nostrils together. I can do this with one hand. Talk softly to the soggy and just hold it shut until you sense your yorky has gulped or swallowed.

    It usually only takes a couple of seconds. Of course, don’t do it for longer than a few seconds as they may feel a little concerned.

    The mechanism of swallowing or gulping makes the trachea contract back into place and ‘voila’ no more floppy trachea episode.

    I am no expert, but I am pretty sure this has stopped the episodes all together for my little pom. I think they get into a bit of a panic mode and then it becomes a fear. When they see mummy can stop it, they settle much more quickly.

    I encourage you to try it. My pom used to sound like a warthog on crack. No more.

  14. Christy says:

    Omgosh they have flameless candles with timers….where have I been??

  15. Debbie says:

    No, no, no to flameless candles I say no! I have been burning yummy smelling candles for years (not Yankee, too sweet and sugary) with nary a carbon spot on the ceiling. The secret is in the wick; it must be properly trimmed. I have a great wick trimmer from BBB (use a coupon) and love it. Keep the wick at approximately 1/4″ and that is that.

    Just one site about wicks: http://www.candle-licious.com/html/q___a.html

  16. Holly says:

    Love your idea about inserting them into a prettier holder. In the past I found some stained glass holders that are perfect for this..so pretty. I use Luminara candles and LOVE them! No worries with forgetting to blow them out, smoke, animals, kids, etc.

    I do still have some Slatkin candles I can not live without during the holidays. The Winter scent is to die for. Loved your comment… unless I happen to wander into the bedroom drunk with a flamethrower.

    I bought flameless candles on timers for my mom’s fireplace candelabra when she was disabled and confined to the living room for most of the time. They would come on at 6:30 p.m and made the room so inviting. A small thing for most of us, but so important to her tiny world before she passed.

    Loved the menopause comment from Christine, too. lol!

  17. Mary Werner says:

    Karen, you have really nice followers!

  18. Jennie Lee says:

    If you buy fake flickering tealights, make sure to see the color of the flame first. When they first came out, they had an orange flame. The newer ones have a yellow flame that’s much more realistic. They are often marked down after Christmas or Hallowe’en.

  19. sj says:

    I bought the flickering flame candle w/timer in Sept. It comes on every night for 5 hrs and I’ve changed the batteries only once. It briefly had a very faint vanilla scent, but none after a day or so. Love it. I use a real tealight in a heavy glass holder, next to it sometimes. The tealight burns out by bedtime, so don’t worry about that either.

  20. Sheryl says:

    Do you have any Luminara brand candles? They are so lifelike it is amazing but they are really, really, expensive. Would love to know of one that looks as good but costs less.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Sheryl. I do have a couple of Luminara candles. They are lifelike and no, there aren’t any candles that even come close. They have a patented technology at the moment and as far as I know no other candles have copied them. They don’t seem to often go on sale either, but they’re redesigning their line right now so you might get lucky and find some of the older designs somewhere on sale. ~ karen!

  21. amy watson says:

    That orkney duvet cover from Rough Linen is AWESOME!!!!!! that is my next purchase from her, l have a pinafore and 6 napkins and her bedsheet awwwwwww comfort beyond description!!!!

  22. Barbie says:

    ……looks like you even laid down some marble or granite for the hearth too? GREAT IDEA! I am SO copying this! LOLOL …My hubs is going to hate you! LOLOLOLOL

  23. Barbie says:

    Pink tool belt sister is massively impressive if she built your mantel! WOW! I love it. We have one in our bedroom too “kinda” like that but not nearly as impressive as your “custom made” one….rethinking having the hubs do “me” one like yours now….beefier and more realistic than ours (From Fred Meyer)….he did paint the Freddy’s one but still not as awesome as yours. GOOD JOB sis!

  24. Diane says:

    I have the flickering candles in my home as well. I LOVE them. They are expensive, but very lifelike. Apparently they were developed by Disney for the Haunted Mansion…or so I was told by the lady who sold me my first candle. Every year I try to buy one more because they are so expensive. However, I don’t have to deal with drips or replacing spent candles, which adds up quickly. Now…what to do with all the remotes for the flameless candles! My remote basket is getting fuller…maybe a future blog article for you!

  25. christine says:

    I like to call them “menopause candles” because the house won’t burn down when I forget about them.

    • Sue from Vermont says:

      Oh my God, Christine, I literally laughed out loud when I read your comment! Just perfect. I bought my 12-year-old son 3 flameless candles for Christmas, and he loves using them in his room when he’s going to sleep at night. He needs a little bit of light in the room to fall asleep, and to him, these are much better than a “babyish” nightlight. They have a remote and can change color, or you can just choose one color. They have 4- and 8-hour timers on the undersides of the candles themselves. I bought them for $30 on Thinkgeek.com.

  26. marilyn says:

    when our Dad passed away a dear friend gave our family a beautiful flameless candle with a sweet story to turn it on when we were missing him…i am the keeper of the flame and Dad has travelled with us all over the place! Camping, nova scotia , the cottage , weddings, christening and too many family dinners to count, where family gathers he is there (along with Mom of course) in the form of a flickering, beautiful light. i purchased a beautiful white tin cutout vase from Ikea tohouse it and the light shines through beautifully! it is a beautiful custom we have adopted that brings us all a measure of comfort and has the added bonus of thinking of our lovely friends thoughtfulness in our time of need!

    • Jackie says:

      Oh, what a beautiful idea! Marilyn, I’d love to see the story that came along with your Dad’s candle! I commend you as the ‘keeper of the flame’ — lighting a candle in memory of our loved ones keeps the memories alive.

  27. Melissa in North Carolina says:

    I was gifted 3 flameless candles during the holidays. Too bad I didn’t know about the timers and the flickering flame candles :( The glow of candlelight is so relaxing. I love me some candles. Maybe someone will invent a way for the flameless candles to have a pleasing scent or maybe they do and I just don’t know about it!

  28. SuzyMcQ says:

    I bought a bunch of them before the holidays and love when they come on at nightfall. I can’t really remember a recent purchase that made me happier. Well worth every penny for the comfort and ambiance they provide. Look for the ones with the flickering flame on Ebay. I found some great deals there.

  29. Mary Werner says:

    I know what I’m getting my daughter (forgetful, candle loving, sweetheart) that has candles and kids all over her house. Timers!!!!!!! Her birthday is coming up and she’ll get a load of pretty flameless, candles WITH timers. THANK YOU! But your beautiful glowing white holders make me think of eggs and I just got hungry instead of relaxed. Speaking of cats – someone just put three gorgeous kittens on my door step. They are freezing, hungry, and need to poop. They were obviously inside cats and not afraid of people. I already have two of my own. I get so angry at people that don’t spay and neuter. I get to make the heartless trip to the pound this morning. I need some beautiful candles to sit in front of and relax. Sorry, just venting before I explode since I just found them, fed them, stuck them in a cat heater bed, and am drinking my 1st cup of coffee before turning into Cruella Deville.

    • JMC says:

      Don’t sell yourself short you kind heart – Cruella would have left them on the step.

    • Mary Werner says:

      Update – I did take the kittens to the pound and guess what? They had just gotten an email from some organization that was coming over to get gentle cats for a hospice organization! The people at the pound took one look at what I said were really cute lit tens and they said WOW these are gorgeous. They will go immediately to someplace good! Oh happy day for me. Its raining and I will get a cup of coffee and go back to helping my sweet yorky poo poo deal with her collapsed trachea. They said her age was really against her for some serious operation and they would give me drugs to deal. That was yesterday. She is sleeping like a baby but Oh, pets are a double edged sword. I wouldn’t do without the love I get and give to her but the “end” is so very hard. At least the kittens now have a chance. I’m just a real sob story today – so sorry. But my laptop friends just get to put up with all this – thanks.

      • Bonnie says:

        You are a kind and caring person, Mary. You are right that having pets is a double-edged sword, but that intense feeling is what makes life worth living. If everyone were as considerate as you, we wouldn’t have so many strays. Thank you for taking the trouble to see that those kittens got a chance. You will have good karma.

  30. Ev Wilcox says:

    Last Christmas I asked for one of those neat flickery candles. My husband got the last one available and it resides on the dining room table. Love it! Don’t have to worry about it when grandchildren are here either. Mine is a tall taper in a holder with a round finger hole for carrying, as in days of old. I hope to get more, but they are $$! The effect of the moving flames is pretty cool!

  31. Heather says:

    I have a bunch of these and tons of battery operated tea lights. They’re great.

    That bedroom looks soooo cozy.

  32. Stephanie says:

    Hi Karen! It says the candles are “lightly scented” – usually I can’t stand scented candles, so could you please tell me what they smell like?

    • Linda J Howes says:

      It says they are composed of scented wax with a subtle vanilla or cinnamon accent. Sounds like a nice warm scent to enter a room with.

    • Karen says:

      To be honest I didn’t even know mine were scented, so they can’t smell like much! If they are, you’d have to actually put your head down and smell the candle. They certainly don’t add any scent to a room. Hope that helps. ~ karen!

  33. Scounslowgreen says:

    Hi Karen. How often do you have to replace the batteries?

    • Karen says:

      Ah HA! Excellent question. The ones that take double A batteries have to be replaced around once every month and a half. That’s with them coming on automatically every night for 5 hours. But they better ones (the flickering ones) also have ones that take C cell batteries which last forever! They’re also making LED ones now. I have a few of those and even though they take double A batteries they last for months and months and months. ~ karen!

  34. Jacquie says:

    Don’t talk to me about being drunk with a flamethrower ……

  35. Tigersmom says:

    Beautiful glimpse of your bedroom. Good job on the mantle, Pink Tool Belt. I love your mix of modern with the occasional antique.

  36. ~JackieVB says:

    The fireplace looks like it has a kind of foggy moon thing behind it. It’s even in the picture where you don’t have the electric insert turned on – what am I seeing? I too love your floors and Pink Tool Belt did an amazing job on your mantle – what a talented family! I’ve always hated the waxy flameless candles but the ones in glass seem pretty nice. I’ll have to get some and try this in my bookcase.

    • Karen says:

      That’s just the electric fireplace JackieVB. (it has glass at the back that reflects the fake light, lol) If you’re going for the candles in glass, just buy the regular candles and then buy a couple of cheap glass vases. If you can get them at the dollar store like I can here then it’ll be a cheaper way to go. ~ karen!

  37. Chris says:

    Hey Karen, I think we have the same cat! One of them anyways. I will send you a pic.

  38. Sera says:

    That’s a great idea! I have the cheap kind that have a battery and a timer but no remote. I do feel like getting a set of four for $10 was good though. I tend not to use them very often because I don’t want to spend tons of money on batteries. Do yours recharge?

    • Karen says:

      they don’t recharge. The regular flameless candles go around a month and a half before needing battery replacement but if you can find LED ones they last FOREVER. And if you buy the more expensive flickering candles, the larger ones take C cell batteries which also last a long, long time. Months and months. ~ karen!

      • Pam'a says:

        I finally bit the bullet and bought a nifty little battery recharger. It holds four– either AA or AAA– and over time I’ve probably amassed 6 or 8 of each. They just sit there all charged up (takes several hours) until I need them. I’m sure I’ve saved close to a million dollars on my cordless mouse alone, and it feels great not having to throw so many batteries away. You can get chargers that work for larger batteries, too.

  39. Sherry says:

    Seriously makes me consider these. You’re right, real candles really do mess up the ceiling over time.

    Love your room and your cat looks much like me last sweet lady. But I seriously covet your floor! So gorgeous.

  40. Cynthia says:

    Now I have to go to the dollar shop and see if I can find flameless candles. i have never seen one.

    By the way, what is the cat staring at?

  41. nancy says:

    Timers. I had no idea. I avert my eyes when I see those fake candles, they seem like such a horrible idea. But you and your readers make these sound like a viable option. And I love almost anything from Costco. Hmmmm.

  42. Jessica says:

    My grandmother puts cheap flameless candles in her half used REAL pillar candles.
    Burn your nice fancy pillar candles until they have a 2-3″ cavity at the top, and voila, you get the best of both worlds.

  43. Becky says:

    I am in love with your fireplace insert. I have a faux one in my tiny living room, and the insert is terrible.. I didn’t know you could buy a different one.

  44. Auntiepatch says:

    We’ve used them for years. We also have the ones that have a built in timer so they go on and off by themselves. Love that!

  45. Tracie says:

    Love that bedroom, even though I can’t see much of it. Your bed looks so comfy, dressed in what I assume are your rough linens? A fireplace, too? Decadent. Great place to sip a glass of red wine, read a great book, snuggle with the cat, eat some snacks…I don’t know how you ever manage to get out of bed in the morning!

  46. Rondina says:

    Karen, I like the candle idea, especially for my candle-loving daughter with a toddler. I’m wondering about the electric fireplace though. All the electric fireplaces I’ve ever seen have had glass fronts on them. I can’t see a glass front. Does it produce heat or just look like it does? I’ have a tiny fake fireplace that has a chimney and looks real. Except it’s not. It has a radiant fire heater in it, but the ceramics are the originals and look pretty crappy. I was going to just put in some cute andirons and birch logs, but then I saw your picture.

    Cool bedroom.

  47. Laurinda says:

    I do that with my collection of silver cups! It’s a pretty effect, & I never have to worry about molten silverplate

  48. Mel says:

    I love them. I have a set of four, with the timers (thanks, Costco.) I have them next to the tv, set to come on at 8, 9, 10, and 11 o’clock. A quiet little visual nod to the passage of time, a reminder about bedtime for grownups. We like it. And I have some in the bedroom set for 7pm too!! Because it’s dark out by then, and it’s just so nice. The white glass containers are really neat… Hmm. If only I had more shelf space.

    • Mary Werner says:

      GREAT idea about setting consecutive timer to show the passage of time. Its like waking to soft music instead of a barking dog. I will be copying you!

    • Katie says:

      This is a BRILLIANT idea! Immediately after reading this post, I went to HomeGoods to try my luck and stumbled upon a four-pack of 6″ LED candles with timers (AA batteries, vanilla-scented) for $25! I feel like I just hit the jackpot, especially since it was the only set I saw.
      Now that it’s started getting darker out earlier, the idea of setting timers for each hour every night is so incredibly appealing.
      Thanks again!

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