Take It From Kathryn: Barley Twist Candlesticks

Have any of you ever been drawn to a charming flea market find that you just had to have, but once you got it home you had (a) no idea what it was, (b) where it came from, (c) where to put it or (d) how to properly use it? Then you, my friend, are in the same boat as Andrea.

Andrea from Charlotte, NC writes:

Hi Kathy,

I was hoping you could help me with a table top dilemma. I recently picked up a pair of barley twist candlesticks on an antiquing excursion with a few girlfriends. I just loved the look of them, so I bought them. Now I’m not sure if it was a good idea, because I have no idea how to use them or what to pair with them! Any suggestions for how to incorporate them into a centerpiece?

Thanks in advance!


Hi Andrea,

Great question. Here’s a little Barley Twist history to enlighten you about your lovely new find. The signature Barley Twist feature that is seen on many wooden furniture pieces is originally of Spanish-Moorish descent, which is evident by the spiraling shape that is common among Spanish-influenced pieces. The style came to England in the 1600’s, and it is most commonly seen on oak pieces, which are known for their sturdiness.

Because these are classic English antique pieces, they are simply timeless and can add a touch of elegance to many a tabletop setting. To give you an idea of how you can use them for unique settings, let me share a section from my book, “The Collected Tabletop.”

I set the stage for a Scottish Gamekeeper’s dinner party with a centerpiece comprised of barley twist candlesticks.

They fit perfectly into the masculine event and were a beautiful compliment to the other hardwoods used throughout the decor. They even matched the barley twist table legs!

Using the candlesticks in this type of setting was the perfect rustic “twist” to the tabletop (pun intended!).

I hope this helps give you an idea of how you can use your new candlesticks. They are truly a versatile collector’s item, because as I mentioned they go great with a rustic or masculine setting; however, the graceful curves of the twist make them accessible to more feminine settings, too. If you run across more barley twist collectibles, add a piece or two to tie in the theme around the room. And…don’t be afraid to mix them in with items you already have. Afterall, that’s the best part of a having a collection!


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One Response to Take It From Kathryn: Barley Twist Candlesticks

  1. Franki Parde says:

    “That” tablescape is one of my very favorites!!! I have a “thing” for pheasant feathers…oh, dear. 🙂 Those “twist” candlesticks…there is always spray paint. franki

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