Subtle Ways to Scent Your Home

I know this is not a fashionable thing to say, but I don’t like reed diffusers. In fact I really hate them. To me they are the modern incarnation of a plastic air freshener. They are obtrusive and conspicuous and despite the best attempts to make them look stylish, I just don't find a few sticks poking out of a squat bottle very attractive. But the aesthetics are secondary, the main reason I dislike them is the exactly why so many people buy them - because they emit a very strong scent that lingers for a long time. 

I believe that homes should be scented effortlessly and subtly, in a way that reinforces the things we love about our lives and how we enjoy the time we spend at home. Delicious cooking smells of a dinner to come or the scent rising from a steaming bath help us enjoy our homes all the more, turning small pleasures into big deals. The smell of beeswax polish on inherited furniture can make us think of our childhood and the smell of a lit candle on a cosy evening is soporific and cwtchy. These smells are far more evocative and life affirming than a glass jar that has been sat in a corner quietly pumping out the same overpowering smell for months, regardless of what is happening in our lives.

Of course not all home smells are great - especially the bin you forgot to empty before you went on holiday for a fortnight - but it’s possible that by carefully choosing the products you buy, your home can smell delicious and inviting, and most of all make you feel joyful at home.

Here are my tips for making your house smell lovely in a more natural and effortless way, and a list of my favourite scented products which I use all the time. These are all products I use not just because they smell nice, but because I find the the scent is of the right strength and lingers for just the right amount of time after use.


There’s nothing less appealing on the side of the sink than a bottle of toxic-green washing up liquid with it’s detergent-y smell. I say switch to Daylesford’s rosemary washing up liquid. Made entirely from natural products, it smells divine, almost takes the miserableness out of washing up and will make your kitchen smell irresistible.


I know that really you're not supposed to polish laminate wooden furniture but I still feel that our Ikea dining table benefits from a buff with Method's fabulous furniture polish. The almond aroma smells a little like you've just eaten some Battenburg cake and what's not to love about that. For real wood furniture, you can't beat the smell of beeswax polish as it seems to add the same sort of old world grounding that antique furniture does.


It's ok, it's not the 80s anymore so we're allowed to like pot pourri again. You could try making your own or just make life easier for yourself and stock up on Santa Maria Novella's legendary concoction. It lasts forever, smells utterly intoxicating, and just when you think its over it has this habit emitting a last whiff as you enter a room or open a cupboard.


Personally I can't stand bath products that don't smell of anything real. Manufactured fragrances such as Dove or most things from Boots make me feel depressed. The products that I've used recently and make me feel brilliant and the bathroom smell utterly gorgeous are This Works Energy Bank Shower Gel and our Keats organic soaps, especially the peppermint one. I also really love Ren's iconic Moroccan Rose Otto Bath Oil which also looks incredibly pretty on your bathroom shelf.


I am a new to pillow sprays and am a bit of a convert. A spray on your pillow at bedtime makes bed an even nicer place to be, and a spray in the morning becomes part of making the bed and making your room feel and look lovely. My two favourite are This Works Deep Sleep Pillow Spray and Frederic Malle's rose-scented Dans Mon Lit which is definitely more of a Christmas present than a buy-it-for-yourself.


I do love Diptique candles but I find I can't smell them once the candle is extinguished. After some (extensive) road-testing I've found that Cire Trudon are the ones I seem to be able to smell most often when I enter my home and so for this reason they get my vote.


It goes without saying that flowers are one of the best ways to scent your home and something you can change every week. I know they are unfashionable and for some people too strong, but I always seem to default to lilies as they are usually cheap for an impressive bunch and the heady, exotic smell grabs you as soon as you enter a room. I also find geranium plants work albeit in a more subtle way. 


Nobody wants a house that smells of dog. We only wash our dog every couple of months but I have found that if I use high quality dog shampoo it seems to refresh itself everytime the dog goes out into the rain. It definitely smells better than the aroma of wet dog anyway. Our favourites are Aesop's Animal Shampoo and Dog Wash from new Welsh brand The Good Wash Company.


Soggy bathmats don't look nice and don't smell nice for that matter either. Our rush bathmat gives off a lovely natural smell month after month and as well as being soft underfoot and loving water, is a great way to add subtle scent to your bathroom.

If you liked this post you might also like Tips for Small Kitchens


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