Scents At Home By Sunshine Flint

Home fragrances have never been so popular or so sophisticated. From scented candles to subtle diffusers, Sunshine Flint sniffs out the top trends….

Scents at home

What’s in a scent? Fragrance has always been big business – just ask the fashion houses, celebrities and designers who roll out new perfumes and colognes season after season. But increasingly, we are buying scent not just to wear, but to use at home, in our bathrooms, bedrooms and living rooms. We’re scenting our domestic lives, as well as our public personas. While much of this is made up of low-end air fresheners and sprays, the popularity of home scents has translated into a consumer’s desire for a high-end, quality home fragrance, in the form of candles, diffusers (long wooden sticks that draw up scented oil from a bottle) or designer room sprays. People are now scenting their homes with a range of quality products that differ greatly from the air fresheners and plug-ins of yore. The candles are paraffin-free, the oils are essential and fair trade, all are subtly designed and layered, with top notes and base notes, and made by talented perfumers and noses, some who surely would in a former life have devoted themselves to creating the next Chanel No. 5.

This trend is already well-established in the world’s top hotels, many of whom have tapped perfumers to create bespoke scents for them. Blaise Mautin, a Parisian perfumer, has designed exclusive scents for the Park Hyatts in Washington D.C., Paris, Zurich and others around the world. “Zurich was using the Paris scent, but their guests are mainly male and on business,” explains Mautin. “So they requested their own personal scent. I looked at the materials, the concept, the restaurant, the bars, the guests.” All of the scents differ from each other and take on the qualities and ethos of their location and surroundings. Lyn Harris of Miller Harris in the UK was chosen by The Dorchester to create a bespoke fragrance for the hallways and public areas, and many other hotel chains such as Westin have created their own branded scents. These scents are exclusive to the hotel, translated to the room amenities and even sold in the gift stores. The fragrance become part of the hotel’s identity, as now individuals want their home to have an identity.

Creating The Perfect Scent

Most individual consumers can’t have a scent created for them, but really they don’t have to — there’s so much out there already, from Diptyque’s classic scented candles, Votivo’s best-selling and oft-copied redcurrant scent, to Molton Brown and Jo Malone room sprays, and to Christian Dior and Armani room fragrance. The scents run from floral and feminine to musky and vegetal, and everything in between. Part of the attraction is that the consumer is not just buying the scent, but the lifestyle brand. “You can indulge in home fragrance for a tenth of the cost of buying designer clothing or shoes or accessories,” says scent creator Jonathan Ward. “It’s a segue into a luxury lifestyle that people can easily access without breaking the bank.”

There also has been a trend toward “nesting” in response to the world events and uncertainty. Laurent Delafon, the former distributor of Diptyque in the UK, has been quoted as saying people want to cocoon themselves in a space that reflects their likes and dislikes away from troubles outside. Creating individuality with a scent is hugely important, as about as important as interiors, like the choice of wall color, furniture and fabrics. “You do [create individuality] when you walk in the door with color and texture and sight,” says Ward, “but scent really sets the mood.”

Scents For The Home

What types of scents are the best for the home? Maria Christofilis, founder of Anthousa, a US-based company with ten signature fragrances, agrees that fragrance is key to creating a special home environment that goes along with décor. “A fragrance has to have a balanced throw — not too heavy and not too light,” she says. “Ingredients make all the difference and you pay for that. The luxury candles and diffusers we make contain the highest quality oils, and you can really tell the difference.” In Scandinavia, the top-selling Anthousa scent is green grass and cucumber, according to Anders Melsen, the managing director of Mellow Elements, which distributes the fragrances to hotels, spas and boutiques in Denmark and Sweden.

Creating scents with the right balance of notes is as important as the room the scent is created for. “When I create a scent, I consider and think about what room it should be in,” says Christofilis. She recently released a trio of scents called the Home Collection: sweet basil and heirloom tomato for the kitchen, hyacinth, jasmine and mimosa for the bedroom, and mineral water for the bathroom. Ward reiterates this idea, and says his candles can be used to set a specific mood in a direct way, or just be a great fragrance, but aren’t designed to overtake the environment. “After The Rain creates a clear, ethereal stream in the hallway, or use it in the bathroom for personal spa time,” he says. “If you’re having a party, I suggest the Moss candle because it has both dry and sweet, masculine and feminine accords.”

There is such a wide range of choice in home fragrance that it comes down to suiting personal taste. Just as your choice of perfume or cologne tells people something about your personality, as do your designer jeans or Birkin bag, the fragrance you use at home says as much about you as your mid-century modern coffee table or red accent wall. Home fragrances are another way to express our individuality and create a totally personal environment. And who would sniff at that?