A guide to scenting your home

A guide to scenting your home

Fresh whiffs

Text: Renée Batchelor

Whether you live in a shoebox flat or a palatial abode, here's what you need to know about scenting your home

You can now bring new meaning to the phrase "smells like home" with a wide range of home scenting options available. From room sprays to diffusers to scented candles, leaving a sillage in your home that's not just wet dog or musty curtains is de rigeur and is part of the whole design experience. For well-heeled home owners who already have their designer furniture and art pieces, taking care of the home on an olfactory level is the next step in attaining chicness.

If you've ever wandered into a store or even shoping mall that has been scented – and we're not talking about the free smells at Famous Amos — you know how scenting your home or space can transform the mood, uplift and even relax and calm the inhabitants. But what to use and where? Here are the options and top tips we have.

Room sprays are almost like the instant noodles of home scents — not to say that sprays don't have their benefits and niche uses. A room spray works like a fragrance, but usually comes in a lower concentration of perfume. High quality sprays will not stain or leave residue or fabrics and are ideal for spritzing on your curtains or even your table linens. With something to hold on to, the room spray will not dissipate as quickly.

Quick tip: Because they don't have a sustained impact, use your room sprays for specific moments, such as before and after guests dine in the dining room, to eliminate the smell of food that lingers in the air. Go for refreshing and lighter scents like airy citrus or soft florals rather than heavy, musky scents that will overpower the smell of your meal. Also keep a room spray handy in the guest bathroom — for obvious reasons it will leave the ambience fresher for the next guest.

Diffusers now come in all shapes, sizes and forms and some use it for purposes beyond scenting — therapeutic uses of essential oils such as for relaxation or to build immunity are common. Some diffusers even come with timers. Personally we love our diffusers to look as good as they smell. Diptyque has a beautiful hourglass diffuser that uses the cold diffusion method for better permeation throughout a space, but looks almost like a decorative object that can be placed on a mantle or sideboard without looking obtrusive.

Quick tip: If you are diffusing over a large space such as a living room, pick a fragrance with stronger notes so that the scent can be detected. Try scents like intense fruits, woods and spices, rather than something too transparent.

To us candles are the MVP of home scents. Why? They come in many sizes so variety is always an option — you can either have a homogeneous scent in your home, or go for different scents in different spaces. Candles also have a more romantic feel and have the ability to create ambiance — there's a reason candlelight is flattering. But you have to be careful when burning them and never leave a candle unattended, especially in places like the bathroom. 

There's also an art to candle burning. To get the best use out of your candle, you will have to let it burn for an hour or two so that it melts evenly from first use. Snuffing it out too quickly can result in a dip in the centre. If you really love candles, you may want to invest in accessories like wick trimmers, candle snuffers and even photohores that can hold the candles and also help create patterns on your wall. 

Quick tip: Size matters when it comes to picking the right candle. The experts at escentials recommend using a 180g to 220g candle for every 10sqm of space. That means if you live in a chateau, you'll want to invest in one of those jumbo candles, or even buy a candle designed for outdoor use. Those mini candles you sometimes get as gifts? They're perfect for a bathroom or small bedroom.

Some brands, like Diptyque, also have scented ovals that are small, hangable objects containing scented wax to help fragrance very small spaces like drawers, cupboards and even walk-in or linen closets. Again, these help to keep the musty smell away from your clothes or linen but are not too overpowering.

Quick tip: Do not hang wax-based products in the car, as this will cause it to melt in the heat. Look for car-specific scents instead, as it is not advisable to store even room sprays in a car. Also, check your scented oval every few months to see if it still has a fragrance or if the wax has melted as while long-lasting, these will not last forever.