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Most of what we talk about in design revolves around the sense of sight. Although hearing (wind chimes, water features) and touch (textured fabrics, sheepskin throws) come into play a bit, I feel like the sense of smell sadly gets overlooked. Unless you’re counting the stinky trash that your boyfriend neglected to take out again, and I am not. (Ahem.) In fact, adding good scent back into your home can take what you’ve created visually to the next level.

floral arrangement

First, consider how large the room you want to perfume is, how strong you’d like the scent to be and how long you want it to last. Candles, like the ones designer Erin Valencich used in the photo below, diffusers and incense (Kim Myles loves Nag Champa) are on the stronger/longer side while sprays, sachets and potpourri are best for smaller spaces and a more fleeting or subtle effect, but they all have a place in a well-scented home. Fresh flowers — think lilies, hyacinths or roses — can be a natural way to introduce scent that’s beautiful to boot.

MORE: Kim Myles On Scent as a Layer of Design

Just as different design styles conjure up different feelings, you can incorporate specific essences into your home to achieve certain moods. Like feng shui for your nose, if you will. I definitely feel like certain scents relax me or rev me up. Lavender calms me, although there’s lavender body wash in my shower now, so perhaps that’s working against me when I’m trying to get ready for work in the morning. Gotta buy some grapefruit soap, and accent it with fresh grapefruit slices for an extra zesty kick!

MORE: Create a Candle-Filled Bathroom Spa and Other Great Ways to Bring Scent Home

erin valencich candles

I thought this article from The Chicago Tribune about using scent when selling your home had a good point about coordinating the kind of home you have with the overall scent profile you should think about creating: “A musk would be good for a house with a lot of dark wood, like cherry,” [President of AromaSys, Brad] Owen said. “White tea ginger would work for a more contemporary home.” This short piece from Allure also points out the need to consider what the room in the home is used for before you add scent. Florals may clash with food and cooking aromas in the kitchen, whereas food scents may be more distracting than relaxing in the bedroom.

Personally, I think the seasons influence my preferences the most. In the winter, I tend to like warm, spicy fragrances. Now that we’re moving into spring, I am excited to open up all the windows to get some fresh air, clean my apartment and move toward scents like linen, green grass and delicate florals. Ahh!

What are your favorite scents in the home, and how do you incorporate them?


Design Inspiration

8 Responses

  1. [...] Ways to Use the Sense of Smell in Design HGTV Design Happens Mon, March 12, 2012 5:00 PM UTC HGTV Design Happens Rate Share (function(){var [...]

  2. [...] Design Happens © 2012 Weston Chronicles.     [...]

  3. Rachael says:

    I love my Scentsy plug in warmer. I rotate between mochadoodle, apple pie, and some type of berry scent.

  4. Antiscent says:

    Just thinking about a house layered with unnecessary scent is giving me a migraine and a queasy stomach so, so GROSS. Those wax burners like scentsy take the cake, though. They are officially the worst. The smell from those pieces of junk is always so gross and oppressive. There's no better way to make your house smell like, well, you're trying to hide something.

  5. willgarden4food says:

    I use plug ins I like fruity scents.I think they work great in the bathrooms.As for candles only lit in the bedroom. Only for deco. anywhere else,I think a burnt wick looks ugly.

  6. foodstronmonsve says:


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  8. Briana@HGTV says:

    I do like citrus scents a lot, especially orange. It has a clean smell without smelling too much like cleaning products, if you know what I mean. :)

Briana MowreyBriana is a writer and senior editor for HGTV.com. Her self-described design style is "mid-century modern magpie." She lives in a Brooklyn apartment with her husband, their spoiled dachshund, Chauncey,...


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