Home sweet home. That’s where we’ve all spent the past few weeks, right? If you’re like me, you’ve cased your home top to bottom, have done a few home improvement projects, conjured up a million ideas and dreams, and maybe even wondered how you can make your house feel a little different this week. Or next. Or the next.
One way I love to “accessorize” and cozy-up my home is with candles and diffusers. (How cute is the above Illume candle I recently ordered?) To me, they are both treats and necessities. They make a home smell good and they either eliminate or mask scents you’d rather not house. We all have our favorites.
Currently, my favorite scent provider is my Young Living diffuser. I’m a big proponent of Young Living essential oils and for the past month or so, my YL diffuser has been running non-stop, filled with both Young Living Thieves and Purification oils, both of which are cleansing and purifying. I normally have the diffuser next to my bed and filled with either Lavender or Peace and Calming, but desperate times call for desperate measures so into the main living area it went.
I’m a big candle girl though, so I also always have a candle…or one or two or three…burning somewhere in my home. If buying me one, safe bets are anything vanilla, bergamot, red currant, lemon, or verbena. That being said, these are my standard go to’s:
Bath and Body Works’ White Barn “Vanilla Birch,” “Bergamot Mint,” “Warm Vanilla Sugar,” and Aromatherapy “Love”
Lollia “In Love”
Bridgewater “Afternoon Retreat,” “Solitude,” and “Open Road”
Tokyo Milk “Let Them Eat Cake”
Votivo “Red Currant” and “Pink Mimosa”
Trapp “Orange Vanilla”
Volcano “Capri Blue”
The latter, Capri Blue, is my daughter’s favorite and the favorite of many. Another quite popular brand is Nest, but perhaps the most iconic is Diptyque’s Baies. It’s also one of the most expensive.
The original Diptyque boutique opened in Paris in 1961 but a popular line of candles was not its owners’ intent. The small shop’s founders consisted of a fabric designer, theater set designer, and painter and their goal was to own a fun store that sold fun things “bazaar style” found and inspired by their many fun travels. Two years after opening, three hand-crafted candles were created but one of them, the rose and black current scented Baies, later earned legendary status. A status it still holds today.
In 1983, the late great and legendary designer and Chanel Creative Director Karl Lagerfeld chose Baies to burn in every store of the fashion giant and during its runway shows. The fashion world was abuzz and before you could say “burn out,” homes from Paris to Plano to Portland were ablaze with Baies. Known as much for their hard to read labels, Diptyque candles were originally only available in Paris but today you can today purchase them in boutiques from coast-to-coast and online. But beware, a six ounce candle will put you back around $70.
Yes, they are pricey but I have found that inexpensive and mass-produced candles often don’t fill a room with scent. It’s a classic case of “you get what you pay for,” so since I’m almost always burning a candle at home (and at both ends!), I opt more for medium-priced ones rather than either very expensive or very affordable.
The OCD in me also means I will only buy candles that match my home décor, meaning I will never have a blue or orange candle, as I don’t have those colors anywhere in our house. Then there’s the paraffin vs. soy vs. beeswax issue.
Paraffin vs. Soy vs. Beeswax
“Regular” candles are normally paraffin candles, which contain petroleum oil. Soy candles are natural in that they’re made from vegetable oil, or soybeans to be exact, and beeswax candles are made from a renewable all natural wax produced by honey bees. Let’s look at each.
Unlike the aforementioned beeswax, paraffin wax is non-renewable. It is a created byproduct of petroleum, coal, or oil shale. Eeeewww, right? But look at your candles right now. Many could very well be primarily paraffin. If so, know that they are not hypo-allergenic so if anyone in your home has allergies, asthma, or other chemical sensitivies, paraffin candles are probably not what you want.
Soy candles are natural and they don’t increase the CO2 level in your home. They also burn longer than paraffin candles and don’t produce any icky black soot. So, not only do they clean up easier, they are healthier for humans, pets, and the environment as a whole.
So are beeswax candles, which if of the 100 percent kind, are free of toxic chemicals. Because beeswax is denser than even soy wax, these candles burn longer than their soy counterparts and most other candles as a whole. But know that they are also way more expensive. Their light is also a bit different due to their higher melting point. Beeswax flames tend to be brighter and warmer than other candles. Lastly, beeswax is hypo-allergenic.
Something else you might want to consider and decide is what type of candle you’re looking for. Candles come in a wide variety of styles, including taper, pillar, votive, tealight, floating, and container jar. Tapers are, to me, old school formal and conjure up images of a formal dining table in perhaps Williamsburg, Virginia or Savannah, Georgia. I love them, especially when sitting atop crystal or brass with bobeches. Pillars are very common and can be used in a range of vessels. Battery-operated ones are extremely popular for outdoor use and for smoke-free indoor mood lighting. Both votives and tealights are great accents and small room choices, while jar and other container options are the kind you can find just about anywhere and in a variety of scents and motifs.
A Scent for Every Room
Whatever candle you choose, you know that lighting it can bring the simplest kind of joy whether it be in the kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, or family room. What scents you light in each however, some would suggest should vary.
According to luxury real estate brand Sotheby’s, choosing which fragrance for which room should depend on the function of that room. In the kitchen, you should avoid florals as they can interfere with food smell and instead opt for anything in the citrus family, which complement what’s cooking while neutralizing stubborn odors. In a family or living area, energizing fig or fruity choices literally lend an “air” of energizing and uplifting aromas and are especially weighty when entertaining.
Now for the bedroom and bathroom. You might want clean smelling scents like fresh linen, ocean, and even cucumber in the bathroom but in the bedroom think relax. You’ll get the most benefit out of calming and soothing whiffs near your bed, such as lavender and vanilla, which will help you unwind and sleep more soundly.
Another candle tip is how to ensure they last as long as possible. I really like three-wick candles because I feel they burn more evenly but as for all those one-wick candles out there, be sure to let the entire surface of one melt and soften before blowing it out. This will prevent the dreaded “tunnel” candle problem and overall uneven burning.
But what if you don’t like candles but still want home fragrance? There are several options to choose from.
Diffuse Don’t Refuse
If you for any reason refuse to burn candles but still want home fragrance: diffuse! You know these bottles filled with scented liquid and sprouting reeds out the top? They’re everywhere and they’re great! I have several and feel like one in my entry way provides a whiff of good stuff anytime someone enters my home. As the owner of three dogs, this is imperative! My current favorite is Inis, which I recently discovered in Santa Fe. I also like Pottery Barn’s “Ocean,” Pier 1’s “Cuban Vanilla,” and Chesapeake Bay’s “White Citron,” which I can no longer find! Ugh! You can also count on any Jo Malone diffuser to please the senses, but at more than $100 a pop, they aren’t pleasing to the pocketbook…at least not to mine.
Another home fragrance option is wax. Say what you want but I actually really like a few of Scentsy’s melting bars. I’m obsessed with their Vanilla Suede (which is currently not being made…grrrrrrr!), as well as their Lemon Verbena, Vanilla Bean Buttercream, and Butter Pecan bars. They are affordable, simple to use, add a bit of ambiance with their lighted and decorative warmers and to me, there’s something very soothing about melting wax.
And if all of this isn’t enough, there’s a brand new trend out there: smart home automatic diffusing fragrance systems. Think high-end retail store, hotel lobby, or the likes and the fabulous scent that envelopes you as you enter. Now you can have that in your home thanks to apps and other Bluetooth timed spritzers. Through the touch of an app or other remote controlled systems that can be paired with your Alexa or Google Assistant, you can spray your home on schedule and even by specific scent for specific time of the day (i.e.: energizing florals during the day and calming herbals at night). Uh-mazing, right?
It all comes down to scent and smelling good. As I previously blogged, scent has a way of changing a mood, setting a tone, and sparking a memory. Here’s a link if you’re interested: https://carlawordsmithblog.com/2015/01/15/its-all-about-that-smell/
I hope while you’re home-bound and social distancing you are surrounded by positivity, family or loved ones, and heavenly scents.