Last month I started on a serious mission: make my house smell good. No, I don’t mean I burn a nice candle, I want the real deal. I want people to walk in the house and note how good it smells. I want being in my home to be a more pleasurable experience because of the scent. This is serious stuff…serious adulting stuff because even five years ago I wouldn’t have given a fig about this. Here I am though all domesticated and saving up for wallpaper and making my own Christmas wreaths and evidently making my house smell like fond memories.
When I started this endeavor, I just researched like crazy. I read blog after blog after blog. I read so many articles from Elle to Good Housekeeping. I wrote down the main basic points and all my options and just went to work. I’m going to lay it out step by step, but first I want to tell you a few things I’m omitting: incense, essential oil diffusers and bringing any type of car freshner into the house, and here’s why. 1. I’m sorry for those who like to use incense, but I do not think it’s a way to create a sophisticated scent in your home. I tried five different incense brands and came to this conclusion. It’s great for calling the corners or a zen moment. I feel it’s best left to ritualistic practices. 2. I know people live by essential oil diffusers. There’s an onslaught of blogs and Instagram accounts just dedicated to the use of them. I have to be honest, I’ve only had one essential oil diffuser and a big reason I quit using it was because of my dogs. I fully realize not everything you put in a diffuser can harm dogs, but I would rather be safe than sorry, especially having a dog who has breathing problems. I do think this could be an option if a) you’re willing to buy one for every room and b) you’re a wizard at mixing scents. 3. I’ve actually read this a few times and tried with multiple brands and none did I think smelled expensive. People suggest hanging or hooking them to vents. I tried it and it sucked. Not sophisticated and those scents always seem to give me a headache. I don’t know what the deal is or maybe I need to throw more money at car fresheners. Whatever the answer, hard pass for now.
I have come up with a pretty full on method on how to make a bespoke scent in your home. A lot of the products you use will have specific scents that you didn’t create, but the way in which you combine them will make it special.
- The most basic start to this is the cleaning part. Take out your trash regularly, don’t keep food that has gone bad in the refrigerator, clean your garbage disposal, wash towels regularly, etc. If you have a dog or cat, obviously the basic maintenance, but regularly washing dog beds or whatever they like to lie on is important. Pro tip: One of the best tips I found on the internet was to use a dryer scent or scent sachet in your trash to help battle nasty scents.
- Before you start creating a scent, it’s great to freshen the air. Open windows frequently (if weather allows) and keep plants around the house or flowers. A little bit of natural scent is a great starting point. Also, one of my favorite things to do either when I want to set a mood for a party or even to start my day is to simmer fresh fruit, herbs and spices. The absolutel best time for this is Christmas Day! I think a cinnamon stick, aniseed, cranberries and sliced oranges make for the perfect evening dinner scent.
- Now down to brass tax. How do I really do this? There are two mega important items you’ll need: strong smelling candles and room sprays. The real important bit is what kinds of scents you’re using. If you want to create something sophisticated, avoid edible scents, especially anything on the sweet side. If it smells like candy, put it back. Now! Look, if you have a thing for these kinds of scents, buy one candle and burn it in one room at night or something. We’re trying to create a melodic scent that moves through your house, not something that may very well nauseate guests. Your house should only smell like cookies when you’re baking them. The ultimate tester of your home scent is that friend who gets migraines from smells. I got to test this myself with a friend recently and she loved the way my house smelled and she usually hates scented houses. It’s all in what you use. Anyway, we’re starting with candles and we’ll be using natural wood and herb scents ONLY. If you really want some edible scent like an apple, pick a candle that’s birch and cedarwood and pine needle with apple. It can be in there, but it can’t be the hero. I’m personally obsessed with Bath & Body Works candles. I won’t use anything else. They’re great because the candle scents are very strong, so if you buy the right scents you can make a room smell good without even lighting one. I recommend lighting them regularly for extra scent and ambiance, but they give off a nice scent without and last a long time. So, as a reminder, you’re looking for candles where wooded scents are the hero, but they’re allowed to have a spice or light fruit as a secondary smell.
- The second most important item is your room sprays. These should be where your floral or herb scents come in. Choose scents like lavender, rose, basil, etc. They will compliment your natural wooded scents. You only really need to use these on occasion or when you have company (spray well before they arrive so there’s time for the scent to settle), but personally I like to use them every day. I just love the way it works with the candles.
- Potpourri is a great periphery option to add a little pizazz to a room. A lot of them take some time to take hold with their scent, but will eventually be a nice addition.
- The final step is how you place these items and how you transition scents from room to room. Of course you can be a one scent gal and use the same candles and room sprays for each room, but that’s boring and fails to give your home dimension. What I do is buy a different scent of candle for every room and maybe even two of the same if a room is large. It’s also a great idea to buy a candle for where you keep towels are linens so the fabrics can absorb the scent. I connect my candle fragrance room to room by using overlapping notes. For example, I currently have a candle in my office that smells like pine needle, cedar and apple. In the bathroom next door my candle is teakwood, mahogany and cedar. One note connects you to the next room so there’s a flow. When you’re choosing room sprays, I like to test a little bit and see what smells nice with my candle. I always use lilac, rose, lavender or basil. I keep a bottle somewhere hidden in the room and usually use the same spray for two or three rooms. My entire second floor is lavender. You can also keep fabric fresheners on hand in the same scents you use as room sprays.
This whole process, especially when choosing the right scents for your home, I now have down to a science. If you follow this structure you can’t go wrong. It bares repeating the three important points:
- ALWAYS USE CANDLES WITH NATURAL WOODED SCENTS.
- CONNECT ROOMS WITH ONE NOTE IN COMMON IN CANDLES AS YOU TRANSITION BETWEEN ROOMS.
- ALWAYS USE FLORAL OR HERBACEOUS ROOM SPRAYS AND FABRIC SPRAYS.
Seriously though, so simple. I came up with the formula after reading so many articles talking about what scents smell sophisticated and are the most liked as a whole. This, my friends, will give you your bespoke room scent that your friends will wonder how you do it.