As the days turn darker and colder and we close up our houses against the chill, it’s easy for the indoors to start to feel stuffy and oppressive. There’s a reason why people get cabin fever after all, and part of it probably has to do with all of that stale air! It’s not exactly practical to open up all of the windows and let in the fresh air when it’s 10 below outside, but there is something you can do to freshen up the house. Try out these ideas for making your house smell more inviting, and you might just lift your spirits, too.
Going to Pot
One of the simplest methods for freshening the air in your home requires little more than a saucepan. Just put some water in a pan, then add in some aromatic things that smell good, like citrus slices, herbs, or spices. Oranges and cloves make a good pairing at this time of year, as do apple peels mixed with cinnamon sticks and nutmeg. For a more relaxing scent, try some dried lavender and lemon slices. Once you’ve picked out what you want to use, put the pot on the stove and heat it to a simmer. As the steam rises into the air, it will carry the scent with it.
I love the versatility of essential oils. You can buy individual scents, or you can find blends from natural-goods shops or even perfumers. My favorite way to use them is in an oil warmer. In the bottom, you put a lit tea-light candle, and in the top dish, you put either a bit of water or an unscented wax melt (which are sold alongside regular candles), then add a few drops of your essential oil. If you don’t have an oil warmer, you can also use your light bulbs, if you’ve still got incandescent ones in your house. Turn off the light and wait until the bulb’s cool, then apply a couple of drops of essential oil directly to the bulb. Screw it back in, and next time you turn on the light, the bulb will warm up and diffuse the scent into the air. There’s also another simple way to use essential oils: Just add a few drops to a spray bottle of water, shake, and spray into the air. Now, you’ve got a room spray that’s much cheaper and less chemical-laden than the store-bought stuff.
Light it Up … or Don’t
Scented candles are a simple way to make your home smell more inviting. Lighting them to warm the wax is the obvious way to use them, but if you want to scent a small space where having an open flame isn’t safe, or if you want to use them somewhere where the rules don’t allow it, such as an office or dorm room, even unlit candles can waft some scent into the air. An unlit candle in a closet can let out a whiff of pleasant aroma every time you open the door, for instance. The best type of candle for this is an unwrapped pillar-shaped one, as it has more surface area that will be exposed to the air.
Smells Like Home
The best approach to making a house smell like a home, in my opinion, is one that has a fringe benefit: Bake something! There’s a reason why real estate agents will often put a batch of cookies in the oven right before an open house starts. Not only do baked goods smell yummy, but we often associate the scent of cookies, pie, or bread in the oven with the comforts of home and happier times. Scent is strongly tied to memory, and when we smell delicious, comforting things like these, it lifts our spirits. Give it a try! After all, if the smell of baked goods doesn’t make you happy, eating them probably will.