Perfuming a Room

gardeniaHere in the Midwest, Autumn is a snuggly time, with folks tidying up the outside and turning their focus inward in preparation for the LONG Slog Through Winter.  Once December rolls around, it’s unlikely the windows will open again until late March/early April.  The smells of Life collect and multiply in the Cold months, with the night’s  yummy aroma of coq au vin leaving a lingering air of greasy wine come morning.  I live with an Ursine man and two enormaloid dogs, all of whom do their Man/Dog Thing with the… emanations and general ‘guyness’ of it all.  Unchecked, this house quickly becomes an olfactory Hazmat zone, so I’m always vacuuming, mopping, airing…trying to stay a step ahead of Those Smells, which beat to flinders the notion that I might live a Beautiful Life.

That’s where perfuming a room comes in.  Perfume guns, scented passamentiere, diffusers, all help cleanse and renew a room and lift the spirits of those who are stuck in inhabit the house.  A little whiff of, say, Bigarade on a tassle hanging on a closet doorknob and suddenly I don’t mind that I have to make the bed.   Jiggle the reeds in a diffuser and the leak in the icemaker doesn’t seem quite so bad!!!  And, hey!  There’s still ice!  So you might as well shake up martini or two!

I’ve been on the hunt for the best (aka My Favorites), running the gamut from Budget Friendly to “why yes, here’s my Black Card”.

Frederic Malle Perfume Guns Un Gardenia la Nuit.  Holy cats and crackers!  Two spritzes in a decent-sized bedroom at 9p means fragrant dreams until morning.  This is the truest, most GARDENIA of all gardenia scents.  You’re in a silken gown, at twilight, in a manicured French garden full of the most fragrant gardenias imaginable.  It’s $185 and worth every fragrant cent.  Barneys in Chicago has sold out of it, it’s on backorder and the backorder is nearly sold out.  I totally understand why.  If I still had my Amex Plat I would buy this by the gross, rack up the points and then buy some more!

As much as I love the Gardenia, I am even more in love with Marius & Jeannette (as you can tell these, as well as the original scents, mirror the scents of his candle line).  With its salty tang and hints of lemon & pastis Marius & Jeannette will transport you to Marseilles, then  whisk you along the sunny coast in a vintage roadster.  I spritzed this once.  Then I spritzed it again.  And again.  And I found myself dancing through this crappy little house with a huge grin on my face..and I realized that I’d somehow ended up in Monte Carlo!  $145 (and I would buy this in a nanosecond!  Ah,  perhaps for mah birthday……..?)

Btw, these are not the sort of pretty little spray bottles you’d leave on a bedside table.   These are industrial-strength spray bottles, Bauhaus-cool. Since I’m all about Traditional Pretty I’d probably leave mine in the linen closet until I was ready to spray.  What’s inside those bottles, though, is so freakin’ gorgeous that I wouldn’t care if they packaged it in a baggie, as long as I could keep pumping it out, turning the air into magic.

Agraria Bitter Orange Perfumed Tassle.  Swish!  A Summer Saturday in the Hamptons, swaying on my closet door!  I love passamentiere, though this house laughs at me every time I hang a silk tassle from the hollowcore doors.  But, hey – I don’t have to live at Versailles to smell like I live at Versailles, right?  Grab your beauty where you can, that’s my motto!  I got mine  at Saks for $35.  It’s sooo pretty!  In the entryway I have worn the Bitter Orange reed diffuser completely OUT! Those sticks hate. mah. guts.  I think it’s time to retire them.  I think I will replace them with Bob’s Flower Shoppe reeds from Trapp Candles. This is a Kansas City company and it’s very chic & fun, with excellent quality scents and lovely packaging, all at a reasonable price.  Bob’s Flower Shoppe is a cute name for a gorgeous scent.  Spritz the room spray and you’re in a high-end florist’s shop in early Spring.   I stumbled upon the candles at Straub’s in Webster Groves MO (where I also stocked up on Mallomars, thankyewverrymuch)….Trapp has a ton of scents – I liked a lot of them but it wasn’t until I got to Bob’s that I fell BIG In Love.  The deli guy was giving me such strange looks.  I was gearing up to get all hufftified, then I realized that I’d been standing there for 5 full minutes with my nose jammed into this diffuser!  Blushing.  The room spray is $10-$14, depending upon where you get it.  The reed diffusers are $45-$50.


What do you use to keep your house smelling pretty in the closed-in months?  

Liz K November 7, 2013

In response to Musette above, I used to have an actual candle closet and the name has stuck. What I have is an oversized end table that my husband built for an odd storage situation in our old apartment (strange useless nook). It is waaaay too big for our living room so it lives in the guest room and is stuffed to the gills with hoarded candles, incense, and discontinued Lampe Berger oils. I am actually working on taking over the hall linen closet for perfume though. One shelf down and two to go. My situation is probably opposite everyone else's. I can usually have windows open most of the winter around here but the summer kills me. Hot and humid and yuck. In spite of our nice mild winters I do have tons of cozy home scents I love. My next door neighbor smokes briskets as a side job several times per week and his house is built in an L shape that mirrors ours so that our homes create a very nice u shaped smoke trap. Since oak and mesquite smoke are instant migraine for me I do occasionally have to close the house up and that "vintage 60's house with three cats" smell takes over quickly. I LOVE the Esteban Paris incense (every scent I have tried has been great) and the Cedre candle is to die for. I also have an ancient and discontinued Basil candle from Diptyque that I burn year round for really special days; that one and the honey candle I really wish they would bring back. Last year I scored several L'Artisan votive sets at TJ Maxx and now that I remember I saved myself one I am enjoying it quite a lot. Yikes! I am really rambling today. Guess I should shut up and get back to work.

elvie November 7, 2013

Hey Guys! I'm little late to the party again (time zones and my usual lazyness) but this is such a lovely topic, I loved everyone's ideas. Especially the jam ones (YUM!) I'm an incense/pot pourri type, both handmade if possible. One of my cousins always makes a wonderful sandalwood and rose one, and also a pinesap/frankincense in little cones that are great in winter. Summers are a honeysuckle and linden blossom room spray from a drugstore brand that I adore, and I also love making little sachets (thanks Patty:)) of pot pourri from apple and orange peels, cinnamon, clove, star anise, roses, vanilla pods and such. Whatever takes my fancy at the given time:). Hung onto the radiators as one of You mentioned, or around the hearth they provide a gentle but lasting aroma. I make a great pride out of a scented home, as I delish in people saying when they enter Hmmm, your place always smells sooo good!:). I've tried essential oils in a burner as well, but they work much better in the bath tub IMO:).

maggiecat November 6, 2013

Between the basset, and the cat, and the husband and our fondness for cooking fish with garlic, and yes, I'm BIG into perfuming my house. I also open windows until I can actually see my breath sometimes, but usually incense works better. I get sandalwood, rose, and jasmine incense from Earthbound Trading Company, and it's lovely. Incense is also good during the summer, as it doesn't heat up the house as candles do. And I love candles too - Trapp's Amber and Bergamot is lovely, and any number of companies put out wonderful spicy fall and balsam-y winter scents. Orleans Home Fragrances is a favorite as well. Diffusers don't work for me (see "cat" above), but I can put them in my office, which I also like to scent. Just because.

ElizabethC November 6, 2013

I've always been fascinated by the Guerlain candles - has anyone tried them?

Janice November 6, 2013

I live in a house with a cat, so the reed diffusers are just not going to work, and candles, although I have lots of them sitting around, are burned only when they (or the cat) can be constantly supervised. I have been using Papier d’Armenie quite a lot especially to get rid of cooking smells (and also have a box of the Santa Maria Novella version, which is stronger). And I bought a package of Malle’s “plastic incense,” which is great for smallish spaces—one in the coat closet, one in the bedroom closet, one in my car. I have been eyeing the incredibly priced Diptyque electric diffuser thingie—it’s something like $350, not including the scent refills. Has anyone tried this or seen it in person?

eldarwen22 November 6, 2013

I live in a house with 3 Labs that love to fart and it's horrible in the middle of winter. If there is a day where it's gonna be mid 40's or even up to 50, I don't care if it is the middle of winter, the windows are getting opened. Dog farts and stale air are a horrible combination. The Slatkin candles are my go to for trying to keep that stale air smell at bay.

Sherri November 6, 2013

Musette, you little perfumista temptress, you!! I have sooo been wanting to try those perfume guns, and now between your writing and two little kittens--beautiful but confined to the office with their stinky litterbox (and a recommendation I use only natural clay litter which does nothing for the smell so we'll see how long I can stand it--I just might have been pushed over the!! Seriously, I need something STRONG but not migraine inducing in there! Candles won't do with kittens! Right now I have a Yankee Candle plug-in, but that Malle would be soooo much better, if dh doesn't kill me over the price. Wish there was some way to try before you buy! Love your writing, as always! Hope you and yours are all well!

Dana November 6, 2013

Anybody else love the Mrs. Meyers Clean Day Lemon Verbena scent? I love the hand soap! I don't even smell lemon, but I do smell a really nice chypre fragrance. Tried the dryer sheets and they did not scent my clothes, even though they do smell great in the box. Maybe I will just scent my closets with the sheets?

Tora November 6, 2013

I love candles, incense and diffusers!! Currently I am in love with Lafco's Feu de Bois, which is so evocative of a campfire in a damp forest, with maybe a little high church thrown in. Simpatico made a candle called Grapefruit Fir which is exactly that. Now I have to hunt down stores that still have it in stock. I recently bought a case from some odd store I found on the internet. Every Christmas I get the Agraria Bitter Orange diffuser for the powder bath downstairs. each morning I turn the reeds upside down and back into the bottle so the air in the room is filled with the scent. I am hoarding some real Mysore sandalwood incense of which I bought 25 boxes in 1983. I still have 1 box left. L'Occitane used to have a honey line and their honey incense was to die for. Of course it is discontinued, but I still have 10 sticks left, that I parse out slowly. I keep a bottle of Fille en Augilles and Five O'Clock au Givembre in the master bath, to spray the air. MM good. I love reading all the above suggestions. I love a good smelling house!!!

Dina C. November 6, 2013

My favorite for scenting the home is votive-sized candles. My particular fav is Thymes. They have the wonderful Frasier Fir, which smells just like a Christmas tree. They've also got a line called Indigenous, that has a bunch of discontinued scents I really like. I've got Oolong Cassis, Neroli Blossom, and Verbena Bamboo. They've all got great throw, are made in the USA, and are very reasonably priced. I see on their website that they've also got reed diffusers, potpourri, scented handsoaps and lotions, room sprays, etc. (not affiliated) I got a couple of L'Artisan votives on sale -- not sure what the name is, but it's a really bitter green like tomato leaves, nice in spring and summer. The reason I like votive candles is that they fit perfectly on the window sill right above my kitchen sink. I light them in the evening when I'm cooking and washing dishes. I only wish that more companies would make the votive size and sell *just* the candle, not the votive candle in the votive holder, kind of like Yankee candle does. I wish I liked Yankee candle, but their scents are fake and cloying to me.

Portia November 6, 2013

Hey there Musette, Here I do Essential oils in a burner or I have an amazing collection of incense from all over the world, currently my all time favourite is one Jin & I bought while visiting the oldest temple in South Korea, the scent is so different to any other countries incense. Portia x

solanace November 6, 2013

Penhaligon's Bluebell! I have a big decant and can't stand it on my skin, but it is lovely it on the drapes. I'm also all for bringing some jasmine or lemon tree branches inside the house. There is a little brass vase full of cinnamon sticks in the kitchen, which I occasionally revive with a little cinnamon EO. And of course, nothing beats baking or cooking jam. One of these days I made a spicy plum tarte tatin and the entire house smelled lusciously Lutensian. Just googled the cute diffusers you guys described, and oh my, I'll have to look for one on my next trip. Still another lemming!

dinazad November 6, 2013

Well, there are the quinces. I got a big bag of them from a friend, and since they keep fairly well, the bag is just standing around, perfuming my apartment (I read somewhere that quinces were used to scent rooms in the Victorian era as well. They smell wonderful). I won't cook the quinces before the first brown spots appear, so I'm probably good for another week or two. After that, I might actually use the Diptyque "Quince/Coing" room fragrance. Or hang little bags of orange and tangerine peel from my radiators to dry. Cook wonderful spiced red wine syrups to go with poached pears, plums or apples and leave the kitchen door open. Bake. And light high-quality scented candles. It's a bit too early in the season for the fabulous Annick Goutal "Noel" candle, but the time will come! In the meantime, Penhaligon's "Elizabethan Rose" candle will do (it comes in a beautiful silver bowl which will come in handy once the candle is gone).

Caroline November 6, 2013

oh man, I'd been wondering about those space-age looking Malle guns. And your description of the gardenia scent sounds very tempting. My house is rather mid-century modern, so I'm not inclined toward the tassels. Right now I've got a Diptyque Tubereuse candle, and am going to pick up one of the limited edition holiday ones. My local Sunset finally got around to setting up a Mallomar display--$4.99/box, wonder if that's the standard $? Inconsequential compared to our fragrant lemmings...

tammy November 6, 2013

I am a candle ho to my very core, but I am not immune to the charms of the reed diffuser, mainly because I am also a glass/bottle ho, and am thoroughly enchanted by the damn bottles. DL & Co have some absolutely stunning diffusers...especially the first ones they came out with, all gorgeously etched. Their Essence of Green can be one of my favorites ( altho the bottle is just plain green) but it's hit and miss as far as the strength of the scent. Sometimes it's strong and delicious basil-y goodness, and sometimes it's all but nuthin'! I finally just quit buying it. Saint Parfum's Fresh Cut Bouquet is by far and away my favorite diffuser, though. Like walking into a florist in late winter, when they have all the hyacinths. Seda have some lovelies, too; my mama swoons over the peony, and the bottle is sweet, with a tassle! I have been panting after one of the Agragari mini diffuser sets, but can't decide which one. Nob Hill has my preferred colors and I want the Orange and the Balsam, but Santa Barbara has the jasmine and the rose. Any thoughts from your experiences that might away me?

Ann November 6, 2013

Oh, sweet baby girlllll ... you had me spewing my pre-bedtime cup o' tea! The images you create with your wildly evocative posts have me reeling most days. What a gift you have! I, too, love the Agraria diffusers. I have the mini ones on a square silvered tray in my downstairs powder room, and I rotate between their balsam one in the winter and the lemon verbena scent in the spring/summer. Must try those tassels, though, as I am a tassel girl through and through -- on furniture only, of course, not on my person, perish the thought :)