Posted on March 18 2022
By Carleton Varney- Special to the Palm Beach Daily News
When I arrive home each evening, there's magic in the air with the fragrance of honeysuckle coming from the bushes I planted near my front door. The scent is so fresh and welcoming.
Up North, I like to take a walk through a garden when the lilacs are in bloom. I even love the fragrance from freshly mowed grass.
I also love to bring natural scents inside. I adore the fragrance of fresh roses placed in a bowl on the coffee table. And an arrangement of lily of the valley or peonies perfume the air so beautifully.
As you can see, I believe fragrance is an important part of home decorating, maybe not as key as color but almost as crucial. When decorating your home, think about the joy you get from fragrance in your garden and carry the outside in.
Years ago, I was the consultant to the Claire Burke Co. of Charlottesville, Virginia. I would visit department stores across America and stand behind the fragrance counter marketing rose potpourri, long before scented candles came to dominate the home-fragrance market. Back then, I extolled scented drawer liners, coat hangers and, of course, bowls of loose potpourri and sprays. My gig with Claire Burke lasted a couple of years and I must say, I enjoyed introducing loose fragrance and home sprays to the public.
Today, there are so many scented candles from which to choose, not to mention fragrance sprays and stick fragrances. You can find these items in Walgreens and Target — along with fine department stores and Worth Avenue boutiques — and they’re also sold on television and online.
Florals are common, but so many fragrances today are fruit-based, from grapefruit and orange blossom to vanilla and apple pie. Yes, a kitchen with the scent of apple pie reminds me of heading over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house.
A few notes of caution, however, may be appropriate. We don’t want to overload the air with too much scent — I think a touch or a sprinkle is the best way to enjoy home fragrance. Think subtlety.
In the same ways, sprays designed for the bathroom can sometimes be so overwhelming. Do not carry bathroom sprays outside the bathroom.
And as far as those bowls of dried potpourri go? They are not a look I like or recommend. Avoid the potpourri, which reminds me of a dried-up Christmas wreath hanging on the front door long after the holiday has ended.
Home fragrance, like perfume, can even be a signature. I recall how late designer Pauline Trigère sprayed a bit of Chanel N°5 or a touch of Chloe in the air prior to the arrival of her guests for cocktail parties in her Park Avenue apartment. In the same way, you might try a spritz of Elizabeth Taylor’s Gardenia eau de parfum inside your home for those times when floating a fresh gardenia in a bowl of water isn’t possible because of the season.
Ah, the smell of it!