Having lived all my life in Ohio, I can say one thing for sure: There is nothing sweeter than the smell of spring.
The good times we’ve had recently reminded me of this, like the first few days after a long winter. The breeze wafting in through the open windows, with the smell of new growth, was pure bliss.
But, as we lifelong Ohioans know, we may have entered what some on social media call a “spring of deception” (check out “12 Seasons of Ohio” and you’ll see what I mean) .
In fact, by the time this article was published, we were probably back in winter mode, with the buds buried in the snow and us shivering around the house.
While this can be a depressing time of year, it won’t be long before spring really arrives. Until then, I plan to harness the feeling of spring through scent.
Smell is a very powerful feeling. Our olfactory nerves are directly linked to the parts of our brains that process memory and emotions. This allows smells to trigger memories, which then trigger emotions. Certain scents are known to trigger certain responses—such as the calming effects of smelling lavender—but, as explained in Scientific American by Rachel S. Herz, assistant professor of psychology at Brown University, smells are often associated with have specific memories. In other words, different scents trigger different emotions in people.
So when you want to evoke a certain emotion in your home, it helps to go beyond visual design and incorporate your favorite scent.
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There are plenty of options for incorporating scent into your home, but over the next few weeks I’ll be trying to recapture the feeling of spring with candles. For me, they provide a perfectly balanced scent intensity without too much burn, like incense. I would skip the citrus and vanilla scents and jump straight to florals like rose, peony, gardenia and sweet pea.
I love making decorative vignettes at home as a stand for candles or incense. It helps keep lighting in a designated area and acts as a mood booster for both seeing and smelling lovely things.
My ultimate tip for embracing scent: You can do it on a budget, but skip the ultra-low-end stuff. Incense beads and candles from the dollar store or budget section of Target may smell great in the aisle, but they won’t end up transforming when used at home. I also tried buying essential oils from Amazon, but they all ended up smelling like menthol.
Instead, head over to the spacious candle areas at HomeGoods or TJMaxx and spend some time not only smelling, but noting how you feel about each scent.
If you’re looking for a stronger scent, incense is a very affordable option, especially if you can find a store that sells incense sticks individually. As far as pre-packaged incense goes, my favorite brands are Morningstar and Hibi Incense Matcha (these are more of a splurge, but despite the short burn time, their scent is long lasting).
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If you’re feeling gloomy about grey weather, try scenting to lift your mood — remember spring is just around the corner. Now, if only we could recreate that spring breeze.
Email Theresa “Tess” Bennett with your questions at [email protected] and keep in touch with Tess on Instagram @homewithtess.