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Scents of Place: The Art Of Scenting Your Home

An emissary of emotions and memories, home fragrance has become an integral part of our interior aesthetic. We examine how scent can style a space and identify the top notes to diffuse in your home.


Beeswax buffed into the kitchen table, clusters of lavender growing by an open window, bread cooling on a wire wrack: every home has its own unique aroma, as individual as the creak on the stair or the stuck drawer. This olfactory memory triggers emotions and moments remembered every time we cross the threshold. But as our way of living has evolved, these familiar scents have evaporated.

“When you open the door of your home, it smells like home, like your family, and it brings back memories straight away,” explains Marija Aslimoska, a classically trained perfumer and founder of Dublin perfume boutique, Parfumarija. “In the past, it occurred naturally, it came from the energy in the home, the smells of cake and bread baking.”

As the hours spent at home dwindle, those comforting aromas have disappeared. In its place, Aslimoska believes that fragrance has become a way to create a welcoming space and share our signature style, with scent as carefully considered as a piece of art or furniture. “It’s a new phenomenon, it is down to personal taste.”

Nostalgia for the past has inspired a slew of home fragrances that hark back to simpler times, but with a modern authenticity. “We are seeing a lot of incense and there are several brands creating candles that just smell of smoke. In the past, people burned leaves and branches in the autumn, but we have been deprived of that, especially if you live in a big city.”

Using scent to create ambience and complement the interior is something hotels have been quick to adopt. New York olfactive branding company, 12.29, distills ‘a brand’s essence into a scent identity’, with clients like The Viceroy Hotel and luxury chain, Thompson Hotels diffusing bespoke scents throughout their properties.

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Carta d’Armenia scented papers, €18 for a booklet of 20 from Parfumarija

Margaret Mangan, founder of Galway perfumery Cloon Keen Atelier, has seen this move by luxury hotels to create custom scents grow over the past decade. “It touches people on a subliminal level and helps to create a deeper connection. It provides a higher qualitative experience of the hotel – it’s another layer, like the flowers that you see in a reception.”

An early adopter, since 2011 The Shelbourne Hotel has collaborated with Cloon Keen on a range of candles that pays tribute to its history while sharing its story with guests. “The Shelbourne Spa candle was inspired by the signing of the Constitution in Room 112. The fragrance opens with woody notes of gaiac wood and sandalwood, which figure in the antique table on which the Constitution was signed.”

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Aslimoska, who has recently created a scent to be diffused throughout an Irish five-star hotel, believes it is a way to create new memories. “I was recently in Paris and New York and the hotels are beautifully scented with their signature smell. You can take their candles and room sprays home and reminisce about your beautiful weekend.”

Whether it’s reminiscing about a special moment or putting your personal stamp on a space, Mangan believes that ultimately the scent of a home should please those who live there. “To me, home is where you feel safe and the aim is to enhance this with fragrances that make you happy. It could be the scent of the leather from old books or of flowers. It’s about creating a place that you feel comfortable in.”

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Un Air Diptyque electric diffuser, €275 from Brown Thomas


Fragrance Notes For Your Home

Cloon Keen Atelier’s Margaret Mangan shares her scenting secrets.

• As tempting as it may be to burn your favourite candle in the bathroom, Mangan advises against it: “The soot tends to stick to the tiles in enclosed spaces. Diffusers are great for bathrooms and spare rooms because you can leave them and not worry.”

• Kitchens and dining areas should be kept free of fragrance during meals as the scent can distort the flavour of the food. After dinner, Mangan suggests using citrus notes to cut through any lingering cooking smells.

• When it comes to the living areas, Mangan opts for balsamic, woody or herbal notes. “Our Exotic Woods and Antique Library candles have always outsold our fresh scents in Ireland. To me it’s logical that in our wet and cold winters, we want to comfort ourselves with warm fragrance notes.”

• Small or enclosed spaces can benefit from scenting and Mangan recommends spritzing a linen spray in hot presses.


Featured image: Cassis Leaf perfumed candle, €40 Cloon Keen Atelier

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