January 15, 2010

DIY Home Fragrance on the Cheap


do you guys know about poladroid? i’m kind of obsessed

One of my favorite places to go in New York City isn’t a dimly-lit speakeasy cocktail lounge or a gargantuan structure that houses works of art from every corner of the globe; it’s my friend Alison’s apartment. When I walk into her home, I am always embraced first by my friend and then by a deeply comforting, relaxing fragrance. Alison understands the allure of fragrance. The scents are never overpowering or noxiously artificial — they are subtle, soothing, and mysteriously unplaceable. Is that orange or verbena or cassis? Who knows, it is just, simply, marvelous.

Scent is one of our more overlooked senses, I think, and one of the most powerful. And because fragrance is so evocative and personal, it can really tap into a whole ‘nother sense of ourselves. I always feel, for example, that if one is wearing a forgettable black dress coupled with a heady fragrance, one can feel herself transformed into the alluring, purring ne plus ultra of sex appeal. Can’t one?

The power of scent can be as transformative in a home. But ever since a boss pointed out to me that buying scented candles is literally burning your money, I haven’t been able to enjoy the spendy scented pillars quite as much. What I’ve substituted instead are lots of cheap tealights all around the living room with a quietly simmering saucepan of aromatics in the kitchen. Everything you need for a little home fragrancing can be found in the grocery store. And if you’ve ever purchased essential oils for DIY beauty recipes, dilute several drops of essential oil in a simmering water and you’ve got instant aromatherapy.

Some ideas to get you going:

orange peel + rosemary + cloves
apple slices + vanilla extract or bean + cinnamon sticks
lemon peel + peppercorns + rosemary
cranberries + orange peel + rosemary + bay leaves
lemon peel + cinnamon sticks + bay leaves + whole cloves

Or, if you’re just trying to zap the air of cooking smells (salmon can really stink up the joint), try simmering a baking soda and water combination on the stove. Yet another thing baking soda can do.

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  • If it comes in pink: Love your blog title πŸ˜‰8 years ago

  • Avril: What a great idea! I love scented candles but yea they certainly are so bloody expensive. (So I learnt to make them a while ago πŸ™‚ gives vent to my crafty tendencies once in a while.) But I love the idea of a ‘scented’ home & I think it’s perfect when one is entertaining or when one wants to just enjoy a good relaxed afternoon at home πŸ™‚ I have a tea party later this evening with gal pals….I think I’m gonna try one of the combinations πŸ˜‰ Thanks Sarah!8 years ago

  • Christine H.: No, I did not know about Poladroid—how fun! I am going to have fun playing around with that tonight.8 years ago

  • Jessica: Thank you for this! I hate spending so much on candles, and I’m generally picky about fragrances anyway, so I love the idea of using ingredients that are already in my kitchen.8 years ago

  • Brooke: So many of your scent suggestions are also ingredients you can throw into mulled wine… makes your whole house smell delicious while it simmers on the stove (or in a crockpot) and then for a bonus: you get to drink it!8 years ago

  • renΓ©e: i was just thinking about lavender oil in water for more than just a face steam. what a timely post! i am going to lemon peel it up around here the next time company arrives.

    thanks for the poladroid tip too! i have a few photos “developing” right now.8 years ago

  • rachael: I am obsessed with essential oils and buy the unscented candles and add a few drops to the top as it burns.

    My great grandma in California used to burn the old eucalyptus leaves in her fireplace at the family ranch during the cold and flu season…nothing better.8 years ago

  • eva: thank-you for having/sharing this idea. i tried the apple, cinnamon, vanilla combo right away….love it.8 years ago

  • Alison: Wow! Thanks Sar! I’m glad my apt smells good and not like kitty litter πŸ™‚ I love these DIY ideas, I’m def going to try one!8 years ago

  • maria: so, let me see if i get it. its a bit hard to understand the tip. So it’s simmering water with the ingredients…only that! and then..let it boiling!!! Help me because i love the ideia…Thanks a lot8 years ago

  • not sure if you’re joking, maria, but yep, that’s it!8 years ago

  • maria: hello again, yesterday i simmered one of your receipes and it didint work at all. Im afraid i misunderstood something…because its impossible to scent all the apartment. but that ok! i will figure it out…thanks8 years ago

  • Erin: I make one with a couple lemons (cut in half – usually rind left over from juicing for a recipe), a splash of vanilla extract, 3 – 4 cinnamon sticks, and a sprinkling of ground cloves and ground ginger (that’s what I have on hand). I stick it on the stove, turn the burner on to 2 and walk away. It does take a little while before I notice it, but that scent will fill my entire apartment for as long as I have the burner on. It’s one of my most favorite smells (it reminds me of a warm drink [Russian Refresher is what we called it] that my mom made for us as kids using tang, lemonade, and spices).8 years ago

  • Jessi: I share an apartment with my brother and it seems to me that he enjoys stinking up the place. I’ve been so tired of spending money on candles and air freshener that never works! This is awesome! I even took it a step further by finding some dried lavendar and burning it in our wood fireplace at winter!!7 years ago

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