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How to scent your home

Potpourri is another option for fragrance disbursal into a room
Potpourri used for aromatherapy by Serge Bertasius/

Fragrances are known to jog our minds and recreate memories. They are used for aromatherapy and to provide a sense of well-being. It’s also a powerful way to set a mood and people who are selling their homes will often bake chocolate chip cookies before buyers arrive.

The key to loving fragrance however, is getting the right amount of scent without it being cloying or overpowering.

The Burning Factor
You probably want to burn a beeswax or soy-based candle versus the paraffin model which has a tendency to soot. When candles are first new—like uncorking a bottle to breathe—many times you don’t even have to light them to get the scent. Keep the wick trimmed before each additional burn or you’ll be stoking the flame with a long wick and the pool of wax will overwhelm the burn.

Good quality incense is an option but avoid the cheap stuff found at discount stores or Asian emporiums. Try Japanese incense from Shoyeido or Baieido, or seek out a French vendor.

Simmer or Oil
We like the simmering pots and they is a nice Colonial Candle version in Tea Olive simmer snaps that is very popular with us. These are put into a warming pot and disburse the scent into the air over quite a long period of time (just don’t forget them or walk away for shopping).

Essential oils are nice and we used to get a Summer Hill oil at Crabtree & Evelyn and put a drop or two into a light bulb ring. Then every time the light was turned on a beautiful fragrance would warm to scent the room. You can also add the oil to a bowl of ceramic hot water and the steam will push the fragrance up and out into the room.

Another great idea is to sprinkle a bit of the fragrance oil on the inside of a toilet paper roll. This is especially nice for parties or luncheons with the girls. And we have tried wicking, where the smell is diffused into the room through special sticks sitting in oils--that's an option. And finally, we would be remiss if we didn't mention an Arkansas company, Aromatique, who has the best potpourri we've yet found (it is long-lasting and beautiful to boot)!

Some tips:

  • Be careful with strong scented tapers or votives around food. You don’t want to turn off your guests appetite or spoil what may be a fabulous but subtle asparagus dip.
  • In the summer, anything with citrus notes smells fresh and wonderful—and the new beachy or fresh smells like clean linen are a good option.
  • Choose more complicated smells that just one-notes. More expensive fragrances will be a combination that is not suffocating but that gives the nose a blend.
  • We have tested many fragrances over the years and can recommend Agraria, Timothy Jay, Sitota Collection, DayNa Decker, Baroness von Neumann
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