Choosing the right scent for your home
You’ve found your perfect sofa, spent hours choosing paint colours and the gallery wall is just as you pictured it. Now, to scent. Yes, you can (and should) add this to your list of interior design essentials. Why exactly do you want to make your home smell nice though? Well, just like perfume, home fragrance tells a story; it helps to create atmosphere and is a useful tool for giving each room its own character and purpose.
In addition to this, fragrance can also hide all manner of less-pleasant odours, whether that’s the waft of a labrador that can’t quite resist leaping into the stream on a walk, or strong-smelling cleaning products. From room sprays to scented candles, there are a plethora of options out there to lend their scent to your house. Each has its individual pros and cons, as well as spaces that they are best and least suited to, so we’ve created a guide to help you navigate your way to your ideal home fragrance.
Which type of fragrance is best?
The answer to this question depends on what you are trying to achieve, as well as how much scent you want to introduce to a room. Are you looking to cover up an odour or create a relaxed atmosphere? Knowing this will guide you to your ideal product. Here is a rundown of some of the most popular ways to scent your home.
Fragranced room sprays
One of the best things about room sprays is that they allow you to control how much fragrance you bring to a room, and when you do so. One drawback, however, is that in comparison with other fragrance-building methods, they can be a little overpowering. One way to get around this is with a gentle spritz here and there: spraying fabric, such as a pillowcase, can be a nice personal touch that may even impact how well you sleep. If you want to go chemical-free, you can even create your own fragranced spray. Simply fill a pan with boiling water, add herbs of your choice and simmer for a while, or use diluted essential oils.
We’re big fans of scented candles as, when lit, they disperse an even, constant scent that creates an ambient atmosphere. The type of wax candle you choose will impact the fragrance released; while traditional paraffin candles used to be the norm, praised for creating the strongest scent, much more eco-friendly versions have evolved to rival them. As well as purifying the air when they burn, beeswax candles are sometimes made using the by-products of the beekeeping industry, making them a sustainable choice.
Another advantage of scented candles is that when you look after them, they last a long time. We have a couple of tricks to ensure that you get the most hours of burn time you can out of yours:
• Regularly trim the wick so that it’s about half a centimetre long, which prevents that sooty look.
• Every time you burn your candle, try to burn it for long enough that the surface liquefies – this will prevent ‘tunnelling’ which is when wax gathers on the sides.
• If your candle has a non-flammable lid, place it on top to snuff it out – rather than blow it out – to ensure that there is no smoke and the wick doesn’t get stuck in the wax. Alternatively, you could use a candle snuffers.
The main advantage of room diffusers is that they require so little maintenance. You can pop your reeds in, place them on a console or side table and forget about them – something you can’t do with a candle’s open flame. Diffusers also enable you to control the level of scent that’s released in a room; the more reeds you use, the stronger the fragrance. A useful hint that’s worth noting is not to use as many reeds in warm rooms, as fragrance diffuses more quickly in higher temperatures.
As with sprays, fragrance diffusers can be personalised (to an extent). If you’ve found the perfect scented oil but the bottle isn’t pretty, decant the oil into a design of your choice. You could even reuse or repurpose a beautiful bottle by filling it with a homemade fragrance.
Sandalwood, vanilla, cedar, patchouli… There are countless scents out there, with each falling into a general family whose notes evoke different associations. As scent is linked to memory, it is important to consider what kind of emotions each might awaken. Some of the most common ones include:
Florals are often considered to be light, feminine fragrances, but there are plenty of heavier petal perfumes in this family too, such as rose or lavender. In aromatherapy floral scents are associated with joy, so if you are feeling stressed or anxious, look to a floral scent for help.
Think lemon, lime, grapefruit and orange. Remember, while these are all zesty, energising fragrances, they do have different impacts on a room; grapefruit will be much stronger than orange, which is a bit sweeter, for example.
These scents are some of the best at invoking memories. For instance, when you smell notes of cinnamon, nutmeg and clove, it’s hard not to think of a warm, wintry evening. As such, spicy fragrances are best saved for the more festive months of the year.
Musky scents like sandalwood, cedar and patchouli are key members of this fragrance family; they are linked to strength and stability.
A scent for every room: which works best where?
Figuring out which scent works best in specific spaces comes down to a combination of factors: deciding what kind of mood to set and taking into account the attributes of different fragrances. We would recommend using one aroma per room – rather than using a single note for your entire house. This means that each space will have a different feel, possibly to reflect its purpose. You could use the same fragrance in hallways or areas between rooms to refresh the senses before entering the next space – this is the home fragrance version of a palate cleanser.
The smell of sugary baked goods wafting from the kitchen needs no covering up, but for days when nothing is baking in the oven, look to a fresh, citrus scent. Unlike other fruity fragrances, citrus won’t clash with the aromas of food – keep this in mind if you are hosting a dinner party. Diffusers work well here as they will cover up other strong smells, such as garlic, with zero effort.
In the bedroom, there’s nothing better than a scented candle, particularly as they double up as soft mood lighting. Floral scents are thought to be able to reduce your heart rate, making them perfect for encouraging a good night’s sleep – lavender, chamomile or sandalwood are all good choices.
As a space where you both entertain and relax, the sitting room requires a fragrance that reflects both activities. As a shared space, it’s important not to choose a scent that’s too strong here – you don’t want anyone to feel overwhelmed. The atmosphere should feel welcoming, so scents like vanilla and cedarwood – which are both inviting, yet quite neutral – are ideal.
If you are working from home, consider switching up the scent throughout the day. Eucalyptus can help you focus and peppermint can make you feel more alert (even the smell of a peppermint tea can help), making them perfect to release during those mid-afternoon slumps. This is particularly important if you work in the same place as you relax; switching up the scents indicates a change in activity and attitude to your body and mind, helping you switch modes. Incense and palo santo – wood from a mystical tree that grows in South America – have antiviral properties and, on a spiritual level, they will clear any negative energy. Just make sure they are on a safe surface when you burn them.
At the end of the day, these are guidelines: it’s your home, your scent, so anything goes.