Why You Should Give A Damn About Fragrance When You’re Decorating Your Home

A scent is worth a thousand pictures.

Brought to you by Botanica by Air Wick

Home fragrances infused with responsibly sourced natural ingredients

Over the past few months, it’s fair to say we’ve all become a little more acquainted with our homes. Your friend who loves backpacking and bouldering is now obsessed with their vegie garden. That mate who usually parties from Friday night to Monday morning is pulling all-nighters cleaning, decorating and re-decorating their apartment.

It makes sense. If we’re going to be stuck at home, why not make it as comfortable as possible? But, between all the trips to the shops, there’s one important thing that’s often overlooked: scent.

‘Scents can create emotion’

“[A home] needs to please all the senses – and smell is one that people don’t often think about,” interior decorator Zoe Gilpin tells Junkee. “You go to all the effort of creating this beautiful space – it looks great, feels great — but adding that extra dimension with scent actually finishes a room. It adds a bit more to it.”

This is because “scents can create emotion”, she adds. “I always have lavender on my nightstand, in a diffuser. It calms me and helps me sleep,” Gilpin says.

Image: / Shutterstock

But every smell has the capacity to stir up feelings and memories. “Recently, I got a sandalwood candle and it reminded me of when I did work experience at a sandalwood factory,” Gilpin says. “Opening that box and having that smell flood in instantly took my mind back there.

“Rose, [on the other hand], reminds me of my gran. It’s a smell I really like to have in my home [because] it reminds me of the older people in my family.”

There’s a good reason for this. “Our sense of smell is the only sense directly hardwired to the emotion centre of your brain,” neuroscientist Rachel Herz said in a TED Talk last year. “[There’s a] uniquely intimate connection between smell processing and the amygdala, which activates emotion and emotional memories.”

“In evolutionary terms, the amygdala and related structures arose from brain tissue that was originally dedicated to perceiving chemicals – that is, smells. In other words: we might not experience emotion if we didn’t have a sense of smell.”

What does this mean for your home?

Our homes are all packed with emotion right now, but… not always the kind we’d like to dwell on. Introducing a new familiar fragrance can provide comfort and remind you of life outside these four walls.

When deciding on what scent works best for a home, Gilpin likes to be as personal as possible. Scent, after all, is incredibly subjective – if you’ve developed a bad association with a scent, it’ll stick with you whenever you smell it. But the inverse is true too. We all have existing positive associations with smells, that you can then draw on for each room of your house.

Lavender is great in the bedroom, Gilpin says, because “you get that really calm feeling” and it also helps with sleep. The more you use it, the truer that will be.

“In the kitchen area, you might want to use something citrus-based – something that’s related to the kitchen,” she says. “Vanilla could also work because there’s that baking connection, too.”

Image: Undrey / Shutterstock

“The lounge is a good space for stronger scents – purely because they’re larger spaces and some subtle scents might get lost. [Botanica by Airwick] has…Caribbean sweetgrass and sandalwood; because that’s a stronger scent, it might be better for an open-plan living area … [There’s also] French lavender and honey blossom; that’s definitely a bedroom option, but it’s not to say you couldn’t use it in the living room as well.”

If you’re not fussy about the smells themselves, it can be helpful to let your decor direct you.

“If you’ve got lots of plants or you like using bright colours, maybe grapefruit or pineapple. You can even use those ones outside,” Gilpin says.

It’s useful to keep thinking about scent in this way, even once this little isolation bubble has burst. Rachel Herz has even suggested purposefully creating “scent memories”. “Take a new fragrance on a special trip, and then when you really want to remember that trip, sniff.

“A scent is worth a thousand pictures.”

Introducing Botanica by Air Wick. Find out more about exotic home fragrances infused with responsibly sourced natural ingredients here.

(Lead image: / Shutterstock)