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Advice from our fragrance archivist, James Craven, on the art of scenting the home.

There's an art to scenting a room and a great deal of enjoyment to be had thereby. Les Senteurs has a wide range of products to scent your living space to maximum effect and advantage.

I like to set about the business by airing the place: fling wide the windows and doors, even on a cold winter's day, just for a few preparatory minutes.Take advantage of every bit of sunlight to disinfect and sweeten your home, remembering as you do so that bright hot sun is an excellent natural moth deterrent and nature's most ruthless killer of the insect's eggs. Room fragrances may serve very well as camouflage, but for them to be smelled to best advantage try to clean up the room olfactory-wise just a little. Fresh air gives your chosen scent a little extra boost especially if you have chosen something delicate like lily of the valley or verbena. Rather than impose violets or roses directly upon stale tobacco and boiled cabbage, let the elements circulate first around the room.

And then, what to select?


Candles are the perennial favourite, of course. They add instant romance and atmosphere to a room with their glow, the feel of warmth and the refraction of flame and glass.There is something symbolic and healing just in the action of just lighting a candle; a sense of luxury, well-being and ease. A good quality candle (try our Mizensir or Frederic Malle, for instance) will continue to exude a faint perfume long after it is extinguished: you should not burn them for too long - an hour or so is quite sufficient to perfume a room of average size. You can create your own special effects, too, by mixing and matching different scents from different houses, or burning two or three different candles simultaneously - say three tropical flowers such as gardenia, jasmine and tuberose for a voluptuous evening of seduction; or a blend of citrus, green leaves and woods for the refreshing mood of a dewy garden. Experiment at will!

To get the most from candles remember to trim the wick after each burning: wait until cold and then cut to a quarter inch above the wax with sharp scissors. Failing to do this will cause the candle to burn unevenly and give off smoke. Remember, too, to keep the candles away from draughts which cause the the same malfunctioning. It is advisable to place any scented candle on a heat-proof mat or coaster of some kind and never directly upon a delicate or polished surface. Never leave candles unattended, and take especial care to extinguish them before leaving the house.


Diffusers are totally trouble-free: all you do is uncork the bottle, insert the reeds (supplied) and await results. Nothing to worry about, no drill necessary to keep them working efficiently.  Once the reeds have become saturated in the scented oil (which may take a few hours) they will permeate the room with fragrance for months: our Branche d'Olive and Ruth Mastenbroek diffusers usually last around 3 months, varying somewhat on the temperature of the room. In a cool atmosphere I have known one last as long as 6 months. Every so often (if you remember) remove the reeds, reverse them and re-insert for a renewed boost of fragrance. Diffusers (unless used in quantity) will not perfume a space as thoroughly as a candle, but on the other hand their effect is continuous and gradual so that every time you walk into a room you will be aware of a subtle but delicious odour.

Room Sprays

Room Sprays are ideal for an instant effect, quick fix or to back up and re-inforce alternative methods. Have a Frederic Malle candle alight, say, and boost it as required if you desire a particularly intense effect. Sprays are very handy to have about the house for a burst of fragrance to prepare the way for unexpected guests or to disguise sudden bad smells and disagreeable odours. ALWAYS try a patch test first but most modern sprays SHOULD be safe to spray on furnishing fabrics though I would advise the backs of curtains only and of course never use on white or pale colours. Perfectly safe though to spray liberally into the air. Our Frederic Malle Perfume Guns are superbly concentrated, being originally designed with halls and hotel spaces in mind. Bear in mind that if you use one particular scent, this will build up in your space with repeated use, so probably smaller applications will suffice. I have already mentioned above the perennial problem of moth: we have a marvellous spray from Total Wardrobe Care which not only smells wonderful -  a bouquet of natural herbs and patchouli - but which keeps the pests out of your storage space.

Traditional Methods

A delight from the past is Incense Paper in various scents from Maison Francis Kurkdjian: Paper Incense is a modern variant on the old favourite, Papiers d'Armenie. A box contains 25 tiny sheets of paper which you pleat, light and extinguish then leave to smoulder in dish or ash tray. A wonderful aroma fills the room in a waft of perfumed smoke and lingers for an hour or so, depending on size of room. As the papiers weigh nothing at all, they are perfect to carry around with you to perfume your ambience in any situation: though beware smoke detectors in hotel bedrooms! They also make an unusual, charming and quirky gift. Frederic Malle's Rubber Incense is fun and versatile too, besides being no trouble to use whatsoever: small slabs of red rubber permeated with his oriental Saint des Saints fragrance which can be placed in cars, drawers or cupboards to diffuse a delicious scent for months on end.

Modern Methods

From the traditional to the ultra modern: two indispensable devices from Frederic Malle, the Fleur Mecanique and the Diffuseur Solitaire.
The Fleur Mecanique is a high-tech cube into which you insert a fragranced capsule of your choice. The electric machine is silent (so that you can have it on in a bedroom without disturbing rest) and charges like a mobile phone, diffusing the perfume via a fan. Faultlessly efficient and, like Frederic's Room Sprays, this is ideal for a larger space. For smaller rooms and more intimate settings, choose the smaller and non-electrical Diffuseur Solitaire in brushed natural aluminium or anodised black. Just pop a capsule into this miniature pillar box and let the perfume diffuse into the air; make the Diffuseur an integral part of your home decor or pop behind a photograph or flower vase.

You may wish to try one or all of the above: don't get irrevocably stuck with one method, shop around and see what suits your needs and your surroundings the best.
Like perfumes for the body, room fragrances and methods will vary according to the season and your mood. The warmth and light of a candle can be comforting in the dark winter months but also work well on a balmy summer night. A Fleur Mechanique is practical for a corporate meeting but its efficiency and elegance may also appeal to you in a small apartment. I love Diffusers and the like as you can safely shut up the house leaving them in place for a month and then return to find your home smelling deliciously of the French countryside or a sweet orange grove. But whatever method you opt for, why deny yourself the pleasure of a beautifully smelling home?