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 – why do you want to make your home smell nice? 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.
Fragrance can also hide all manner of sins at home, whether that’s the waft of your 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 scent your house with. Each has their individual pros and cons, and spaces they are more or less suitable for, so we’ve created a guide to help you.
Which type of fragrance is best?
This question depends on what you are trying to achieve and how much scent you want to introduce to a room. Are you looking to cover up an odour or create a relaxed atmosphere? The answer to this will guide you to your ideal product. Here is a rundown of some of the most popular ways to scent your home.
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 would like to do so. But their smell can be more overpowering than other methods. Spraying fabric can be a nice personal touch; spraying pillowcases can even impact how well you sleep. If you want to go chemical-free, you can even create your own. Fill a pan with boiling water, add herbs of your choice and simmer for a while, or use essential oils.
We’re big fans of scented candles as by nature they create an ambient atmosphere when lit. The type of wax candle you choose will impact the fragrance released. Whilst traditional paraffin candles used to be the norm, praised for creating the strongest scent, much more eco-friendly versions have evolved to rival them. Beeswax candles purify the air when they burn and 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 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 snuffer.
What room diffusers have to their advantage is that they require so little maintenance. You can pop your reeds in and forget about them, with no worry about a flame. They allow you to control the level of scent in a room; the more reeds you use, the stronger the fragrance. It’s worth noting that fragrance will diffuse more quickly in warm rooms, so you won’t need to use as many reeds.
Diffusers can be personalised. If you’ve found the perfect oil but the bottle isn’t pretty, decant the oil into one of your choice. You could reuse a beautiful bottle by filling it with a homemade fragrance.
Although it might feel like we’re harking back to the 80s, luxury potpourri is making a comeback, displayed in extravagant jars and vases. We would suggest making your own. It’s a fun, creative activity and you can tailor the natural scent to how you like it. All you have to do is go foraging for flowers, put them in the oven on a low heat and sprinkle with essential oils.
Sandalwood, vanilla, cedar, patchouli… there are countless types of scent, but they each fall into a general family which holds different associations. As scent is linked to memory, it is important to consider what kind of emotions each might evoke. Some of the most common ones include:
They are often considered to be a light, feminine fragrance, but there are plenty of heavier florals like 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. Whilst 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 bringing back memories. When you smell notes of cinnamon, nutmeg and clove, it’s hard not to think of a warm, wintry evening. As such, these 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 where is a combination of 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 one for your entire house – so each space will have a different feel to reflect its purpose. You could use the same fragrance in hallways or spaces between rooms – like a palate cleanser – that will refresh the senses before entering the next one.
The smell of sugary baked goods wafting from the kitchen needs no covering up, but on those days when nothing is in the oven, look to a fresh, citrus scent. Unlike fruity ones, 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 smells, like garlic, with zero effort.
In the bedroom, there’s nothing better than a scented candle as they lend such a beautiful glow. 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.
The sitting room is where you both entertain and relax, so make sure to choose a fragrance that reflects both activities. You want the atmosphere to feel welcoming, so scents like vanilla and cedarwood are ideal as they are inviting yet quite neutral. It’s important not to choose a scent that is too strong in the sitting room – by nature it’s a shared space so you don’t want anyone to feel overwhelmed.
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 for those afternoon slumps. This is important if you are working in the same place you relax; switching up the scents indicates to your body and mind that you are doing different things. 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.