Design Sensory

The way we feel in an environment is typically more than just the paint color, the layout or the furniture arrangement. While these are all significant contributors, your connection with a space is truly a collection of senses and impressions. It's the rich softness of a mohair upholstered settee, the way the sun beams shine through the window, a dramatically lit piece of artwork or an artfully arranged cocktail table. In an outside environment it might be a crisp breeze combined with the perfect melody of tinkling wind chimes and far off laughter. Life is in the details. I think I might be the most receptive to the sense of scent. It is pretty notorious that a wood burning fire on a chilly winter's evening gives you that homey-cozy feeling that only winter can provide. The smell of your neighbor bbq-ing confirms that long summer's nights are in full swing.  The slight rustle of musty fall leaves and you know kids are back in school and football season is well underway.

Aside from seasonal scent signals (say that 5 times fast!) the slightest trigger can jig an moment or a memory. I walk into a garage filled with gardening supplies and fertilizer and instantly I am reminded of my grandparent's garage in North Carolina. On the other hand, give me a hot day, a warm breeze, the beach and someone striking up a Marlboro Light and I am back to being 8 years old playing in the sand with my other grandma, Bebe. Surprisingly for someone who doesn't smoke, this scent, in this instance, isn't repulsive but almost comforting. She also had those miniature French lavender soaps in her powder room. I don't encounter a miniature soap that I don't think of her.

Speaking of soap.  You know that cheap industrial pink soap that fills almost every gas station, school or medical office's soap dispenser? Yeah. You know it. It has that kind of squirmy iridescence (or, should I say iridescent!?) to it. One squeeze of that soap and I am taken back to my sophomore year of high school, feverishly washing my hands after completing yet another day of our "fruit fly experiment". Gross. Talk about making someone weary of fruit aisles for life. Another high school trigger? Gucci Rush perfume. I didn't wear this scent, but one whiff and I am dancing at Sadie Hawkins or on my way to the Euro Disco dance. There are a few other strong scents that remind me of this short, but impressionable chapter in my life, but discussing them here might make you question the image that I was ever anything but a poster child for exemplary behavior.

Votivo's Red Currant will forever remind me of my college dorm room. As I tried to make my first real space have an air of sophistication (the futon covered in a batik print sarong, christmas lights and disc chair counteracted this effort) I would lightly spritz some Red Currant before by guests arrived. This, I thought, was way better than those Glade Plug-Ins.

I might be walking the streets of my small town in suburbia, but one sewer line goes awry and I am instantly transported to my time in Chicago, walking to work with the El rumbling under my feet (conjuring up a squalid scent potion all on its own!) and the cold wind whipping around the buildings. Oh, and chocolate. For some reason Chicago always smells like chocolate.

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Where might I be taking you but a quick trip down memory lane? Well, to tell you that while I have come to the realization that I am keenly aware of scents I also am attentive to how they contribute to the overall atmosphere of a space. Like I said in the beginning, it's the details that create the ambiance. Smells activate memories. The good, the bad, the gross and the beautiful. It is my sincere hope that from now on every time I smell lilacs I will think of a perfect day biking in Innsbruck- hopefully such a memory will be as easily obtainable as a fruit fly experiment. I always try to have candles lit throughout my home while I am entertaining, but also as I sit at home by myself. It's a small indulgence that can make any moment seem a little more special. When having guests over I like to mix in one scented with non scented candles to get the overall glow of candle light without smelling like a potpourri shop. When sitting at my desk (as I am right now!) I have a scented candle lit to ease some of the mundane. I change my candles by the season- keeping a diverse mixture in a convenient chest drawer in my living room. That drawer has a smell of fall spice mixed with spring tulips sprinkled with white pine and the bold notes of a currant rose musk. It's a fun drawer to open. Making these little extra efforts are not only inviting, but elevating. It's the way you utilize a space, make it a home and help create something a little more special.

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At the end of the day I'm not sure if people will associate my scent with white pine or white tulips, but I know it won't be Marlboro Lights, industrial pink soap and most likely not fertilizer. There might be a hint of Red Currant somewhere in there- that's a habit I'm still trying to kick.