Styling With Scent
There are countless articles advising how to “style your home with scent,” what to use in our living room, bedroom, etc. But smell is so intimately related to our personal experiences and memories, it’s impossible to tell someone what scent would be relaxing.
For example, I have trouble sleeping. So I went with the invariable recommendation: lavender. Even though it didn’t help me sleep, I enjoyed the scent and kept using it. I gave it over a year, because I never considered it was a choice. I used essential oils on my feet, soy candles, room spray.
Then I read about the link between the power of scent and memories. I thought maybe lavender didn’t have dreamy memories for me.
So I started experimenting. Not anything technical: I just smelled loads of things. I smelled candles and oils when I went shopping, to friends’ homes, etc. I thought the Pure Placid Cashmere Sweater Soy Candle with cream, jasmine, and vanilla was soothing. I burnt it while watching Westworld, unintentionally, and noticed I wasn’t as grossed out or stressed with the show! I knew right away the candle was to blame. I took the candle to bed. Jasmine is my lavender.
Soon after the jasmine realization, I had surgery and while I spent the following day on the couch with some pain and nausea, I decided to try burning a candle to help. I chose mandarin-sandalwood in the Mount Marcy Soy Candle and let it burn all day. I dare say it: it made my day pleasant.
For general advice, I like this article.The drop of essential oil in the toilet paper roll is brilliant. The aromatherapist Persephenie encourages us to get creative. The power of smell is a fairly new area of scientific research, so we’re all experimenting and learning together. As with the MRI office using scent to relax patients, hopefully scent will be used more and more in this way. The possibilities are endless. For now, we can use scents to personally enrich and help manage everyday life.
No one can tell us how to use our sense of smell or what scents are right for what space. But hard facts tell us that scent is powerful, and we can use this power to our advantage. If you don’t believe me, try it.
Pay attention to how different scents make you feel and choose some to use throughout the day. Use a refreshing scent in your shampoo or body wash, spritz your kitchen at breakfast, use a relaxing scent in your car while stuck in traffic, put a fragrant plant in your cubicle, light a candle at dinner, pick another one for the living room, and spray your bedding before sleep. See what this does to your mood, productivity, and perception. You’ll never waste your nose on nothing again. I know: science is cool!
Author's Picks for Scents
Pure Placid is my favorite scent brand, because its scents are nature-based and have a quiet strength that never overpowers. I get compliments on them all the time, which is fun. I’m also a big fan of plants (aromatic herbs like mint and basil) and fresh flowers. (Incidentally, I like to change up my shampoo with the seasons (this summer is blackberry-coconut).)This is what I like and where. Don’t stress: as I mentioned, scent is complex and personal. If you want maple syrup in your bathroom, as odd as that sounds, go for it. (Although that is really weird. You don’t want that.) I like to have a couple candles in each room. I light whatever I fancy at the time. Don’t stress about styling your home. Sometimes if I’m digging a scent and moving to another room, I just take the candle with me. It’s not rocket science (it’s neuroscience!). Just breathe in what feels good.
Written By Dawn Cardinale
Dawn Cardinale is a writer based in Salt Lake City. She loves to ski, bike, and learn new things, even if a beautiful scent ruins her favorite show. See more at dawncardinale.com.