Scents can evoke visceral emotions and reactions—any New Yorker who has walked the steaming sidewalks of Manhattan in summer can attest to this fact. Since some smells can have such a negative impact on our well-being, it’s only natural to want to fill our homes with strictly the most pleasant ones. After all, nothing denotes an inviting and comfortable home quite like a waft of baking cookies or a burning candle at night. In the same way, a clean-smelling home can give you an accomplished feeling. Home fragrances have a way of elevating the everyday and triggering memories and emotions that can subconsciously affect our well-being. But what if they can also help us set the mood for any activity or time of day?
To learn the science behind how different smells can impact our mood, we called on the expertise of Scent founder Kirsty Dare and French perfumer Francis Kurkdjian. Want to know which odors can help your productivity, which will help you wind down at night, and which can make you happier? Don’t just burn any candle. Get ready to smell your way to a happier home.
“Jasmine is a great morning scent as it increases beta waves (the brain waves that are associated with alertness),” says Kirsty Dare. “Fresh and invigorating citrus notes—such as lemon, grapefruit, and bergamot—are also great for first thing in the day.”
French perfumer Francis Kurkdjian agrees: “There are a variety of scents I really like in the morning,” he says, “and fresh-squeezed lemon is one of them.”
“Rosemary, cypress, sage, and cinnamon are all fantastic scents when you’re looking to improve your focus and give your productivity a boost,” shares Dare. “These scents help improve cognitive functions, such as strengthening your working memory and improving overall attention span.”
Try burning a sage stick to purify your space and boost your productivity, and “for a coffee lover, the smell of coffee can be the answer,” adds Kurkdjian.
“Green notes such as grass and fig leaf release a number of organic compounds called green leaf volatiles, which, studies have shown, can promote relaxation and feelings of joy,” explains Dare.
Burn a fig candle on days when you’re feeling down to give your morale a boost.
When hosting a dinner party, you want to set the mood with a scent that won’t overpower your menu.
“Scents with notes of spicy cardamom or warm, rich amber resin are both ideal for entertaining, as they are uplifting, promote positivity and can be quite sensual,” says Dare. “Infusing a room with notes of orange blossom or lily of the valley are especially a fit for dinner parties, as they are clean and uplifting without overpowering the smell of the food.”
“Lavender is well known for promoting rest; it helps to increase the alpha waves in the back of your brain, which encourage relaxation,” explains Dare. Linen sprays are excellent to get a hit of lavender right when your head hits the pillow.
“I’d also recommend anything with sandalwood or roman chamomile, as both are perfect to scent a room in the evening, just before you turn in for the night. Personally, I like to burn rose candles in the evening, when I’m looking to relax; the rose note is very calming and may even help to balance a woman’s hormones.”
Scents can go a long way in enticing buyers when selling a home. To make your home extra inviting, Dare suggests trying this realtor-approved trick. “They add a few drops of vanilla extract to a pan of water, which they put into the oven so the whole house smells like freshly baked cookies,” she says. “This plays to people’s sense of nostalgia; they are reminded of the feeling of home and instantly feel more comfortable in the house. Pine and juniper berry can also work in the same way—reminding the clients of the holiday season.”
“Feelings of warmth, comfort, serenity, and relaxation are part of the feelings that people want to experience when they are at home,” adds Kurkdjian. Triggering comforting memories is a great way to make people feel instantly at home.