Good evening, Friend! As I’m writing this, I’m curled up in my favorite navy blue, vintage wingback armchair that I found at a thrift store nearly ten years ago. A chunky throw I knitted last winter is draped across my lap and the flicker of a candle is steadily dancing in the backdrop. I can smell the sweetness of brown sugar mixed with a hint of spice, reminding me that fall is just around the corner. There’s something so magical about lighting your first fall scented candle for the season as it instantly brings back memories from the year before; that trip to the pumpkin patch, freshly baked pumpkin bread, the thanksgiving dinner shared with loved ones. Smell has this incredible power to transport us through time and space. It evokes our emotions; it sets the mood and ushers ambiance into a space like nothing else. So when we think about designing our living spaces, we design to appeal to all five of the senses, including scent. This is where scent-scaping comes into play. Have no idea what this whole “scent-scaping” thing is about? No worries, by the end of this post, you’ll be ready to tackle scent-scaping in your home like a true designer.
What is scent-scaping?
Simply put, it’s using scent to create a space that makes you feel something. While we can use colors, textures and lighting to tell a story in a room, scent adds another layer to the story. It takes you from magazine spread to memorable experience. You can harness the power of scent in your own home by using candles, essential oils, reed diffusers, simmer pots along with other things.
How to scent-scape…
Take a look at the current rooms in your house and ask yourself how you want to feel when you’re in each space. Maybe the living room is where you relax and unwind at the end of the day so you want to encourage feelings of relaxation and perhaps your kitchen is a lively place for conversations and afternoon homework so you want to use smell to invigorate and excite. Once you’ve decided the primary function of each room and how you want to feel when you’re using that space, use the chart below as a guide to pick your scents.
Relax & Unwind: Lavender, Eucalyptus, Pine, Vanilla, Jasmine, Rose or other soft florals
Sophisticated: Vanilla, Sandalwood, Oakmoss, Musk, Cinnamon, Amber
Zen: Mint such as peppermint or spearmint, Lavender, Sage, Sandalwood
Earthy/ Organic: Patchouli, Cedarwood, Sandalwood, Cinnamon, Sage, Vetiver, Pine or Spruce
Energizing & Exciting: Citrus, Peppermint, Pineapple, Coconut,
Scent is both universal and personal at the same time, so what may evoke positive memories for some might not for others. Use this guide as a starting point but don’t be afraid to play around with different scents to find what resonates with you.
Products to use
Yall know I love some good essential oils and have a huge collection on my wall to prove it, but I also use candles. If you’re in the natural/health and wellness world at all, you’ll hear about the “F word” and how fragrance is a bad word and slowly killing you one sniff at a time. So if you’re someone who is concerned about keeping your home free from harsh smells and chemicals, you might opt out of candles all together or go for some made from essential oils. Whatever floats your boat is A-OK with me, I’m not here to judge, but I’ve included enough options to where there is something for everyone to try. These are some of my favorites:
Soy or Beeswax candles – These tend to be my go-to for evening use when I want the cozy glow of a good candle without a strong scent. We’ve also had tons of fun making our own candles and it’s a fun DIY or family night idea.
Diffuse essential oils using a diffuser – This is the option I reach for when we are going to be home for an extended period of time or when the kids are home (because toddlers and fire are never a good mix). This is also a fantastic option for overnight use and we use the diffuser while we sleep – especially when we have sick kids.
Simmer Pots – I think of this as my weekend smell. If we are all home and spending time together as a family, I might cut up some lemon slices, fresh mint leaves and vanilla and add them to a pot of boiling water while I let the delicious aromas float through the house.
Reed Diffuser – This is a good option for a small space like a bathroom or closet. I typically fill mine with a blend of essential oils but sometimes I’ll grab a set of reed diffusers and a nice fragrance.
Of course, there are other ways to make your house smell lovely that I didn’t cover here, but I hope this list inspires you to start playing with scent in your own home. Notice how much better you feel when you start to be intentional with the aromas in your space and begin to tell your story with scent. Let me know what your favorite scents are to incorporate into your living space in the comments!