Scent Styling: How the right fragrance can transform a space


Florence Robson


Have you ever walked into a spa and felt your shoulders drop as you inhale? Or had a rush of nostalgia as you walked past a bakery and caught a whiff of freshly-baked bread? Smell is a powerful, evocative sense, able to conjure old memories and shift our mood in a moment. It is no wonder then, that scent styling is the latest trend invigorating the world of interior design.

What is scent styling?

Scent styling is a way to personalise and re-energise your space. Much like choosing the perfect shade of paint or the right piece of furniture, scent styling is about selecting a scent that matches and enhances the mood of a particular room. Just as the lighting, art and textiles should compliment each other, the fragrance should too.

You have probably already been playing with scent instinctively: you might even have a scented candle burning or an essential oil diffusing as you read this article. The secret to scent styling is being intentional about how you use fragrance throughout your home to create a specific effect.

How can scent help to create a mood?

Scent’s impact on our mood is scientifically proven. In fact, our olfactory system (our sense of smell) can alter everything from our stress levels to our working capacity. Consider essential oils: lavender can help you calm down, mint can energise you and rosemary can help you concentrate. Understanding the connections between different scents and our emotions is a crucial step in styling with scent.

Robyn Donaldson is a design guru who co-runs the interiors blog ‘All Up in My Space’ (now a successful book). She often uses scent to differentiate spaces in her home and create a distinct vibe for each room. “In transitional spaces like conservatories or rooms looking out into flora and fauna, let the outdoors in with fresh fragrances like True Grace’s Greenhouse, or give studies an escapist vibe with scents like Chesil Beach. Whatever the mood you want to conjure up, there will be a scent that facilitates that feeling.”

She also has a handy trick for anyone working from home. “I have work candles and relaxing candles because I like to signpost my brain towards the tempo of the day,” she says. “First thing in the morning I’ll pop on something zingy and uplifting. Then, when I finish work I’ll choose a lavender-leaning candle.”

“Whatever the mood you want to conjure up, there will be a scent that facilitates that feeling”

How to integrate scent into your space

According to Robyn, scent styling is all about aligning the senses and creating the right undercurrent. “My lounge is a relaxing but social space, therefore it always smells of Portobello Oud, whereas my bedroom is more inky and seductive, so we have Library in there. The spare bedroom is a riot of ochre and inviting floral prints so the cosiness of Sacristy works perfectly in there.”

To get started, consider the mood you want to create in a particular space and work from there. “Look at the colours you use, the furnishings, the general ambience, and then work out if you want to blend something seamlessly with that or to subvert it,” advises Robyn. “For example, if you have a beautiful home littered with books you could of course go for a smoky scent like Library but you could add an additional layer of interest with a rich floral like Moroccan Rose.” It’s all about spending some time thinking about how you want the space to feel and how scent can reinforce that.

It can also be helpful to consider the architecture of the space when choosing a scent. Take, for example, St Giles House, a long-standing and cherished friend of True Grace. When selecting the right fragrance for this gorgeous Dorset venue, the team took the building’s story into account. 

“Portobello Oud has scented St Giles House since the completion of its thirteen-year restoration; a project in which the Earl & Countess brought life back to the crumbling Grade 1 listed house” says Wedding Coordinator Lottie Brown. “When choosing a scent to compliment the magic of St Giles, we knew it needed to be something decadent and luxurious with a hint of mystery – reminiscent of the long and rich history of the house. Portobello Oud subtly compliments the most beloved features of St Giles, with the middle note of oud; nostalgic of the woody scents from the original oak panelling, and the base note of leather; reminiscent of the floor-to-ceiling bookshelves in the Library. It delicately accents each of the state rooms to bring a warm, charming atmosphere to the 17th century home.”

Working with True Grace, the St Giles team also uses this signature scent to help couples hold onto their wedding day memories. “We especially enjoy the use of scent in emotive nostalgia,” says Lottie “And so we gift each of our wedding couples a candle in Portobello Oud, so that they can be transported back to their special day in years to come.”

Getting started with scent styling

When scent styling your home, consider which scents are best suited to which rooms. For example, a relaxing scent would work for a bedroom or bathroom, while a kitchen might suit something invigorating (although feel free to subvert expectations!). 

You can use scented candles, diffusers or other aromatherapy products to distribute fragrance evenly throughout each room, choosing their locations carefully to create ambiance. You could try spritzing scent onto pillows, curtains or other fabrics to create a subtle effect or hang fresh herbs in your kitchen for a natural touch. 

You can even pair or layer scents to create something unique to you and your home. But be careful not to overdo it! No one wants to feel like they’re choking on a fragrance.

Above all, playing with scent should be fun, so follow your senses, take a deep breath and enjoy.

Shop by Scent Family

Green & Herby Scents

Discover More

Woody & Spicy Scents

Discover More

Fresh Scents

Discover More

Discover our fragrance compendium