Does Your Home Need a Signature Scent? Experts Tell Us How to Find the Perfect One
We’re sussing and sniffing out this up-and-coming trend.
When César Giraldo was tasked to decorate 1859 Bel Air—a 20,000-square-foot estate in one of Los Angeles’s most posh enclaves that hit the market for $68 million—he knew the space had to be spectacular. In addition to a statement-making spiral staircase and careful blend of indoor and outdoor living, Giraldo did the unexpected: He finished the space with a signature scent.
“[It] was driven by the belief that a personalized fragrance is just as integral to the luxurious ambiance as any other carefully curated element within the space,” he explains. “It’s not merely an afterthought, but a pivotal component that elevates the overall sensory experience.”
The Los Angeles designer teamed up with French fragrance brand Ex Nihilo to select Gold Immortals. As a tribute to “a paradise of dreams,” Giraldo says the rich mélange of pear, bergamot, and amber volutes circulates throughout the home through a series of curated candles and custom diffusers. “Managed through a digital app, residents can personalize intensity, schedules, and scent levels, ensuring a tailored olfactory ambiance throughout the entire home,” Giraldo adds.
Teched-out diffusers might seem frenetically fancy but, thanks to California-based brands like Below 60° and Homecourt, incorporating a signature scent into your space isn’t just a good idea: It’s a pro tip everyone can apply to their spaces. (Yes, even you.)
Those with sensitive noses might naysay the trend—after all, scents can be polarizing—designers are on-board with an all-encompassing aroma. “A signature scent can (and should!) elevate your home,” says Candace Shure of Shure Design Studio. “It’s the first thing you notice when walking into a space, so it’s important to get it right and choose something that reflects the feeling you want to experience when you enter.”
In fact, it’s a smart tactic that evokes the luxury of a five-star hotel. Don’t believe us? Just ask Joel Costa, director of marketing and sales at the 1 Hotel in San Francisco, which is known for its surplus of scent.
“The signature scent plays a crucial role in this by fostering a sense of nostalgia each time a guest is reintroduced to the scent after checking out,” Costa says. “It’s a subtle yet powerful way to capture a memorable stay and create a lasting impression.”
In 2015, the hotelier introduced Kindling, a scent that brings guests back to nature with calming notes of eucalyptus, cedarwood, and oakwood. Though 1 Hotel pumps its signature scent through a series of HVAC diffusers, you can also bring a little bit of your travels home with a candle or reed diffuser.
Fortunately, you don’t need to splurge on a fancy vent system to recreate the look in your home: Matching diffusers, room sprays, candles, and soaps will create a cohesive aroma that isn’t overpowering. The challenge, however, is to find one scent that can move as seamlessly through your day as you do. (And, yes, just one.)
“Having five different scents in a space never works,” says Breegan Jane, an interior designer in Los Angeles. “Multiple fragrances will always be overwhelming.” Jane adds that exotic aromas might be too polarizing for visitors, noting that subtlety is key.
For inspiration, 1 Hotel’s Costa says nature-inspired scents are always a win in his book. “Start with an earthy scent that’s not too overpowering,” he says. “I’d suggest reaching for a candle with relaxing base notes to create a tranquil, spa-like atmosphere at home like eucalyptus, lavender, and cedarwood.” Meanwhile, Giraldo recommends investing in your aromas by partnering with a trusted perfumer.
But no matter which scents are on the nose, Giraldo encourages you to stop and smell the roses… and the patchouli… and the leather. “Patience is key on the journey to discovering a scent that resonates with your essence and personality, ensuring it harmonizes seamlessly with your environment,” he says.
Good things come to those who wait, and your signature scent is no exception. Finding the right one will require time as well as trial and error, but Giraldo insists the results are worth it. “Remember, scent is a powerful element in design,” he says. “Follow your instincts to discover the scent that resonates with you.”
If you’re looking to skip the sniff test, here are a few base scents to consider.
Home Scents to Shop
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