Architecture and Design

Standard Wax Founder Samantha Thompson's 5 Home Decor Essentials

Samantha Thompson's home is full of recycling. We're not talking about a compost pile or even separating the plastics from glass. We mean the repurposing, refurnishing, and reimagining kind of recycling. 

This is the spirit that launched Standard Wax, the candle company she and co-owner Andrew King started several years ago. The story goes that Thompson asked to use one of King's empty planters to use for candle Christmas gifts, and after some rocky attempts at making candles, Standard Wax was born. 

While Thompson does believe in adding a little bit of warmth to your home, she says everything in her home has a purpose.

"There is nothing in our house just because it looks good," Thompson says. 

Besides candles, Thompson has a few other items that she considers essentials when thinking about decorating her and her husband Kieran's home, including plants, art, books, and patience. 

From any place in Thompson's house, there are at least a handful of candles within sight — set on tables, tucked away on shelves, even stowed on her bar cart.  

"I always have at least five lit," Thompson says. 

It helps that she gets to bring home any rejects from the Standard Wax studio whenever she wants, but Thompson says she's liked candles even before she made them her business. Lighting a candle instantly makes a space feel more homey and makes guests more comfortable, she says. 

In addition to candles, Thompson's shares her home with a number of plants from succulents to pothos, which she swears are indestructible. 

Thompson's added so many plants to her house that she now jokes that she's becoming a "plant lady." 

"I took them all outside to water one time,and everything felt sad [inside]," she says. 

She blames King, who also loves plants, for turning her on to how a few pants can transform a space. Now, the plant stand at the Farm at South Mountain and Berridge Nurseries on Camelback Road are her go-to place for picking up more foliage. 

Unlike her plants, most of the art in Thompson's home was either given to she and her husband or made by Thompson and King on one of their "art nights," where the specific goal is to just make art. 

Thompson really put herself in a few of the eye-catching pieces in dining area of Thompson's home. Seriously. 

While King was over one time, creating art by squirting paint out of a ketchup bottle, and Thompson was making dinner, the knife slipped and cut her finger. King told her to come over and drip her blood on the canvas. As macabre as that sounds, the painting resulted in an interesting, abstract piece with the blood adding a subtle brownish, red color in addition to the black paint. Plus, it's a great story.  

You'll notice there are books all throughout Thompson's home, yet there is no bookshelf, at least not one with actual books on it. 

"No one's going to walk up to your bookshelf and say, 'Let me read your books,'" Thompson says. 

Instead, she prefers to keep them out on tables or by the fireplace so people can casually browse the titles and feel more comfortable picking one up and flipping through it. Some vintage books that were given to Thompson act as decorations on the mantle over the fireplace, drawing guests over to examine them closer. 

While the individual items decorating her house create the overall aesthetic, Thompson says many of them wouldn't have found their way there without her having the patience to wait for them. 

When she and Kieran moved in to the Tempe home last November, Thompson said she wanted to quickly furnish her home so it would just be finished. But she chose to wait on some items, like a pantry for the kitchen, and ended up stumbling across pieces that fit perfectly — in this case, a set of old lockers. 

For months, the walls in the home's master bedroom were empty. But now one of the walls is filled with frames holding everything from portraits of their dog Thompson and her husband created, pieces she's found, and pieces given as gifts. 

"I don't have a lot of patience, but this has been a learning experience," Thompson says.