Perfect scents for your home
Fragrance is now regarded as an essential accessory for rooms. With the festive season here, Gabrielle Fagan sniffs out the best winter bouquets
Christmas conjures up vivid images: piles of gifts, the sparkle of decorations and tables groaning with food. But its aromas are surely just as potent. The smell of pine, woodsmoke, cinnamon and cloves can instantly get you in the mood for the season, even if there's still plenty of stressful preparation to contend with.
The power of home fragrance, rightly now regarded as an essential accessory, is particularly apparent at this time of year when we're spending more time indoors — often entertaining — and need to create atmosphere in rooms to suit our mood.
“When it comes to choosing scents for the home at Christmas, perhaps the most popular are the traditional spice notes because they are warming and comforting,” says Lisa Hipgrave, director of the International Fragrance Association — United Kingdom.
“I'm always looking for products with clove, cinnamon and orange notes. Other traditional and much-loved fragrances are based on frankincense and myrrh, which are also warm and welcoming.”
If those are too predictable for you, she suggests black peppercorns and vanilla, or try the newest fragrances that include the scent of snowflakes and ice.
“These crisp, cold, fashionable scents are achieved using ingredients with herbal, menthol nuances as well as white floral notes,” says Hipgrave.
She points out that as well as choosing home fragrances to suit your mood, you can also theme them to complement your decor.
“If you've selected warm red berries and flowers with red table napkins, for instance, then the spicy warm scents may be the perfect choice to enhance the mood.”
Follow your nose for scents to suit your style and your budget.
“It's one of the most popular times of year for scented candles and fragrance sprays,” says Kate Rowland, fragrance buyer for Sainsbury's.
“Lighting candles in a scent you like instantly creates a welcoming, cosy atmosphere. I like to make a feature by filling a glass bowl with different height candles, with one of them fragranced and surrounded by baubles.
“To make the aroma last longer, spritz the room with a complementing scented room spray.”
SPLURGE Pine & Eucalyptus Luxury Candle, £260, Jo Malone. Or True Grace Snowfall 12 Candle Votive Set, £50, John Lewis. Each votive depicts a tiny image from a dove to a drum set, and the scent is a smoky blend of cedar and sandalwood with hints of birch, amber and moss.
SPEND Tu Christmas Spice Wax Filled Glass Scented Candle, £3, Sainsbury's. Or try Yankee Candle's fantasy fragrance, White Christmas, which has natural extracts conjuring evergreens and freshly fallen snow, from £7.49 for a small jar size.
If you're stressed by all the festivities, you probably need scents that soothe.
“There can be a lot of tension in the lead-up to the holiday and soothing scents can take the temperature down. Calming scents include lavender and geranium,” says Rosey Barnet, artistic director of Shearer Candles.
SPLURGE Neom Organics is one of the Duchess of Cambridge's favourite candle companies. Its Sensuous Candle, £37.50, is designed for those needing to hibernate and de-stress. It contains Ylang Ylang, frankincense and patchouli.
SPEND Soy Wax Lavender & Lime jar candle or Soy Wax Orange & Geranium jar candle, £10 each from Shearer Candles.
Food and feasting is at the heart of the celebrations and just the aromas of seasonal treats can enhance the atmosphere.
“Compliment wonderful food with spicy scents like cinnamon and cloves,” says Barnet.
“Strong scents like oranges and figs are lovely for Christmas Eve as they'll lift the spirits and create an atmosphere of anticipation.”
SPLURGE Roasted Chestnut Deluxe Candle, £80, Jo Malone, has scents of spices and caramel as well as chestnuts. Or try a Cinnamon and Tangerine Scented Candle, £40, and room fragrance, £25, from Floris.
SPEND A new range by Bake Boutique will delight foodies. Its scented candles, £32 each, have subtle rather than sickly fragrance despite their sweet-treat names: Cinnamon Gingerbread Man and Chocolate and Honeycomb Brownie.
In a bleak winter landscape, floral scents can cheer as they bring back memories of summer days.
“Contemporary looks involving white tree decorations with lilies and white roses on the Christmas table have floral hints, so need a fresh, cooler scent,” says Hipgrave.
“Warmer floral scents such as rose will suit more traditional settings.”
SPLURGE English Pear and Freesia candle, £38, Jo Malone.
SPEND Archipelago Mini Scented Candle and Diffuser Gift Set, Jasmine £19.95, John Lewis. Or try the Royal Horticultural Society's Amaryllis home fragrance large wax-filled glass candle, £8.49, and reed diffuser, £15.99, from The Garden Centre Group, available in its 130 stores in England and Wales.
Men and scented candles aren't always a natural pairing and they often regard them with the same enthusiasm as Christmas shopping trips.
“Men are intimidated when it comes to buying candles,” says interior designer Eliska Sapera of Eliska Design Associates.
“There's so much choice and also a plethora of overtly feminine smells available, which puts them off.
“I've created a range which appeals equally to both sexes and will work in a bachelor pad just as well as a family home. Earthy, natural scents work well for them and they usually like something which gives real character to a room.”
SPLURGE Eliska Scented Candle — Pondichery, £35, a natural wax candle with an evocative scent of black pepper, leather, tonka bean and iris. Or try La Fumee Candle by Miller Harris, £34, from Space NK, which has the scent of citrus, spice, smoke and wood.
SPEND Wax Lyrical's new scented candle range for Fired Earth has glass containers with colours that echo some of the company's paint shades. A large wax-filled candle is £18 and sophisticated scents include Emperor's Red Tea with Bergamot, Rose Pepper and Dried Tea and Green Tea & Bergamot, neither of which would scare the boys.