Moving house is stressful, disorientating and fraught with premonitions of feelings of regret and buyer’s remorse. The best way to combat all of these anxious emotions is to make your new house feel like home as quickly as you possible can and one of the most effective ways to do this is with scent.
The smell of our home is a subtle thing, or at least it should be, and is entirely unique to each of us. In the same way that we are unable to smell our own perfume, it is hard to define exactly what our home smells like but we notice instantly when it is not there.
As with our own scent, the smell of our home should be built from happy layers of all the things we love: our hand soap, washing powder and perfume, and all of the lotions and potions we use in everyday life.
But when you move house it all gets upended. Sometimes the previous residents only moved out a few hours before, leaving their smells behind and almost as unpleasant as bad odours is the presence of someone else’s signature smells.
The absolute best way to make somewhere new and unfamiliar immediately feel like home is to light a scented candle the moment you walk through the door. This is a trick people who travel a lot use to make them feel comfortable and relaxed in strange hotel rooms. I could happily spend all day with my nose shoved in a dark, musky Diptique jar and it’s far better to spend money on an expensive scented candle and use it sparingly than it is to buy cheap candles with synthetic scents – these are really just one step removed from a Glade Plug in and generally smell disgusting and chemically.
Another trick is to leave small bowls of Santa Maria Novella potpourri dotted around the house. Pot pourri’s reputation has been tarnished by memories of the the 1980s, visions of Laura Ashley furnished hallways strewn with dusty bowls of cheap twigs and dried leaves refreshed from tiny bottles of oil, lying forgotten like remnants from Miss Haversham’s wedding breakfast. But Santa Maria’s pot pourri is different. It smells, ostensibly, of Tuscan woods after the rain and is truly addictive. You will notice it when it’s gone and start to crave it. I love it so much I’ve taken to buying it for everyone I know for Christmas so that their houses smell the same as mine. Abigail Ahern will shove a bowl of this under your nose as soon as you walk into her house, and she found out about it from Rita Konig who also got Deborah Needleman hooked on it, and if that’s not enough endorsement for you I don’t know what is.
Proper soap is infinitely more enjoyable and luxurious than bottles of shower gel. There is something old fashioned and ritualistic about using a bar of soap and good quality ones will layer your bathroom with a decadent, indulgent yet clean smell. Santa Maria Novella’s honey and almond ( her) and Crabtree & Evelyn’s Sandalwood (him) are personal favourites.
And then there are of course the lotions and potions and perfumes that we smother ourselves with. The ones that leave the clothes in your wardrobe and the dressing gown on the back of your door smelling nice and seem to permeate your entire bedroom. Cowshed are my favourite lotions at the moment, thick and creamy with long lasting, high quality scents.
The smell of our home is incredibly important and one of the most overlooked aspects of interior design but by the time you’ve been in your new home long enough to light a candle, have a bath and dress afterwards, your home will smell deliciously familiar and you will already feel at home.