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The Science and Psychology Behind Certain House Smells

When it comes to your surroundings, you’re probably not conscious of just how exactly all of your senses are taking information in. How an environment looks, feels, and even smells are all important; and perhaps none quite so much as a home environment, where you most likely have a specific idea of how you want it to feel—for both your family and your guests. When it comes to smell, there’s a science behind the good feelings scents can bring. We’ll break it down here, and explain the tie in between science and knowing how to make your house smell good.

Science and Smell

Aromatic reed air freshener on table indoors

Smell is the only one of the five senses that is directly connected to a part of our brain which controls and processes emotions. That’s why a scent can take you so instantly to a moment, much more so than a sound or image. Think about it—when you see the color blue, you won’t necessarily recall a particular memory involving that color, but if you smell something your mom used to make, it’s as if you’ve traveled back in time. You may even remember something you had completely forgotten about until the scent triggered that memory. 

two young parents playing a board game with four young children

This area of the brain where smell is processed, the limbic system, is really the center of all things emotional. This is where using scents can work to your advantage. In addition to making your home look beautiful, you can transform your house into a delightfully scented haven that can actually influence your (and your guests’) mood!

Mood Management

A collection of lavender spa products

Because scents are so closely tied with emotion, even a whiff of a particular one may bring up memories or specific emotions. That’s why when you fill a room in your house with a scent, you’ll want to carefully select what it is and how it’s dispersed, so that it’s something you’ll want to smell, and will enhance only good memories and emotions. 

You may decide that you want to invoke different scents for different areas of your house, and that makes sense! Just like every room in the house has a different function and aesthetic, the aroma selected for those rooms will most likely be different as well. 

young couple in kitchen with 3 children at dining table

There are endless options for choosing scents for your home. You might take a note from places that use scent to alter their mood. For example, Williams Sonoma is known to have a lemon and vanilla scent in their store. The citrusy, bright scent automatically gives any kitchen a clean and light feel. Citrus smells release serotonin in the brain, so any scent that incorporates these types of fruits can help give your mood a little boost! 

aroma oil diffuser on table at home.

Another option is to diffuse an essential oil, such as lavender or frankincense in your master bedroom, for calming aromatherapy at the end of a long day wrangling kids! Eucalyptus is another must-have for stress. Try diffusing a eucalyptus oil, or for a beautiful aesthetic, hanging eucalyptus sprigs on your showerhead for a relaxing steam effect. 

thanksgiving table set with orange candles

Some may prefer a more cozy vibe, using candles or stovetop potpourris to create warm, rich aromas that fill the house. While you’re looking up recipes for those, you’ll discover all the creative scent recipes people have created for each season, from spring to Christmas. Pinterest is overflowing with new ideas to (literally) spice things up and create holiday traditions in your home! Or, invoke your own personal memories by buying a scent on vacations to disperse at home and remind your family of good times in wonderful places!

Get Creative

young woman arranging a bowl on the kitchen island

We say this a lot in regards to design, but it really is your own playground when you make decisions with your home! Finding what you like and don’t like is all part of the fun! Creating an ideal environment is a rewarding experience, and one of the joys of homeownership. As you incorporate fun finishing touches such as scents into this process, you’ll add to the lasting memories your family creates within the four walls of your home. 

We know that keeping a home smelling fresh starts at the ground level, that’s why we also address important tips with regards to smells in the home here. These will lay the foundation for a fresh, wonderful smelling home!  




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