Many of us spend a lot of time making our homes look and feel exactly as we want them to. From cosy and welcoming, to modern and clean, or shabby chic.
Something that’s often overlooked however, is the fragrance of our homes. We treat the eyes, but often forget one of the strongest senses we have; our sense of smell.
The posh word for this sense is olfaction. I have never, ever heard anyone use this word in real life, but I read a book called Perfume, which was about someone with an incredible gift of smell, and in this, it was used repetitively. It was an amazing book and I’ve never read anything that describes the power of smell so well.
It’s a very emotive sense. Certain scents can send our minds whirling back in time to memories that we haven’t touched upon for years. Others make us feel comforted and safe. There’s a reason people brew coffee or bake bread when they’re selling their house. It makes people feel like it’s a place to be – it helps a house to feel like a home.
When I think about home fragrance, the first thing that comes to mind is the completely 80s territory of potpourri. There’d be bowls of it all over the house, especially in winter and at Christmas time, with festive varieties packed with orange slices and cinnamon sticks. However, times have moved on, and the scented candle has risen to an all new (and expensive) level of luxury in recent years. There are some great benefits to them though…
Aromatherapy uses essential oils to enhance your mood and sense of well-being. Using scented candles is another way to deliver these oils and they can be very effective in helping you to relax. Lavender candles are best used in bedrooms and bathrooms to help calm the nerves and soothe the senses. Use lemongrass essential oil candles for their cleansing and uplifting effect – this is more suited for morning and day time uses, in the living room or hallway. Research what you’re after, and you’ll find the right scents to help you.
It’s worth paying extra to make sure that you get quality candles. Synthetic fragrances and paraffin wax used in cheaper candles can be detrimental to your health and cause headaches and even trigger allergies – not the result you’re after. If you’re paying a lot for a luxury candle, make sure you read up on the burn time so that you get enough use out of it. (Some candles have such a strong fragrance that you don’t even need to light them to benefit from them. Simply opening the box can release the scents into your home.)
Kids and pets
Always be aware of the risks of using candles or burning oils when there are children and pets around. Keep matches and lit candles well out of reach, and maybe wait until the kids are in bed before using them (especially if they’re very young).
These are perfect for those long, warm summer evenings when you want to open the doors and windows, or sit out on the patio and enjoy a drink. There’s nothing less relaxing than getting hounding by wasps and bugs, so light some citronella oil burners or candles to keep the bugs at bay, allowing you to enjoy your evenings in peace.
Celebrate the seasons
There’s a whole host of candles for every season of the year, and they can really help you to get into the mood. There’s festive, spicy smells for Christmas, and fresh floral scents for the summer months.
Hide nasty smells
We’ve all had days when things go wrong at home - the dinner burns, the drains are blocked or the bin is smelling particularly gruesome. It’s nearly always when people are coming over to visit too. Have some scented candles around as a quick fix to clear the air when people come calling.
Scents are a big part of where you live, and they can be used to create a gorgeous atmosphere. Have a think about how you can incorporate fragrances into your home on an everyday basis.
Jo Murricane is a freelance copywriter and blogger, based in Leeds. Read all about her food and lifestyle investigations on her blog, jo-blogs.co.uk.