Many people are surprised when they hear that only one of our senses is fully developed and functional when we’re born…and even more surprised to hear that it is our sense of smell. Possibly our most underrated sense, our sense of smell reigns supreme when we’re children. Until about age 10, children perceive their world primarily through what they smell, rather than what they see or hear. The main reason for this is that the sense of smell is the only one that has a direct pathway to the amygdala and hippocampus, the parts of your brain that process emotion and memory.
People remember what they smell more clearly and for twice as long as things that they see or hear. In fact, after three months, people can remember a scent with 65% accuracy, while they can only remember 50% of what they see.
How can this information influence the way you use scent in your home? First of all, it’s important to know how our bodies – and our moods – react to certain scents. By infusing our homes with scents that promote overall well-being and contentment, we can improve the quality of our lives and make our home more attractive to guests. And because so few people understand the importance of scent to our lives, it is a subtle way to encourage certain positive behaviors and dispel negative feelings.
Let’s take a closer look at some popular home scents and their influence on our moods.
If you’re looking to banish gloom and doom in your home, bright scents such as citrus will give you a lift, while grassy green scents usually bring on happy memories of a childhood spent outdoors. Red fruit scents – berries, cherries, plums and apples – are fragrances that give most people a sense of optimism.
Do you need to focus and get things done? Rev up your body with scents that have hints of peppermint, rosemary, jasmine, eucalyptus, cinnamon, more citrus…or coffee. You don’t even need to drink the coffee to get that little added zip…just the scent will perk you up!
Ready to relax and wind down? Lavender is well known as a scent that promotes healthy sleep. You’ll also feel calmer when you’re surrounded by earthy scents such as pine, balsam, wood or leather.
And then there’s the romantic scents…sandalwood, almond, pumpkin, patchouli, musk, and surprisingly…vanilla. When surveyed, most men answered that vanilla is the scent that usually puts them in a flirty mood.
When considering how home fragrance can enhance your home, you also need to consider how the fragrance is delivered. The most popular methods are the most traditional – candles, room and linen sprays, potpourri, incense and fragrance diffusers. Each has pros and cons. Lit candles can be romantic, but hazardous around pets. Heat can also decrease the potency of a scent, which is why you usually get a stronger response to a candle when you’re sniffing it unlit that when it is burning in a room. Potpourri can spill, or be ingested accidentally by small children or pets, but it is usually strongly scented and has the bonus of being a decorative element as well, especially during the holidays. Diffusers have the advantage of a “cool” delivery rather than heat, and often make a pretty arrangement on a table or shelf. Sprays can be short-lived, but the scents can be directed exactly where you want them.
One of the more creative delivery systems is “cold air diffusion,” where cool air pushes scented oil through a nebulizer (very like the way medications are given in mist form), creating a vapor that is suspended in the air. This method is considered to be one of the most consistent, effective ways to scent your home. Aromatech is a leading provider of home scent machines…you can check them out here.
Most experts in home scent use a variety of delivery methods to create a multi-layered scent experience. You can strengthen a single scent impression by using candles, diffusers and sprays in the same aroma, or create your own delightful signature scent by mixing different aromas and different delivery systems within a single area.
So…what scent is calling to you today?