Sense of Smell

People are more likely to stay longer in and have more positive connotations with a place that smells pleasant.

Scent influences an ambiance just as much as visual components like color, texture, and decor.  In fact, hotels, retail stores, casinos, and other businesses invest considerable amounts of energy and money in finding the perfect scent to compliment their space.  While the sometime subliminal smells may not directly influence people’s behavior, they do have a profound influence on emotion.  Studies show that people are more likely to stay in an area longer if it has a pleasant smell added to it and that people associate more positive emotions with pleasant smelling areas, all other factors being the same.

So how do you want to scent your home?  Just decide the overall kind of affect you’d like to have, and place the influence on a scent that is logically connected with that.  For instance, if you want your apartment to feel clean and fresh, scent it with smells like fresh linen or citrus which are associated with cleaning products or clean things. For a beachy feel, add coconut, sun tan lotion, or sea spray smells.

Generally speaking, what you associate with a smell will be the mood that smell induces, because smell is just a sneaky way to conjure up memories (I say sneaky because although it has no more influence than say a photo or a sound, it’s presence usually flys under the radar).  Therefore, when you smell something, say, cinnamon and cloves, you are remembering when you smelled that at Christmas and are reminded of Christmastime things.

You can mix complementing smells just like you would mix complementing themes in a room.  For a clean and floral room, mix honeysuckle and orange. For fresh tropical feel, add fruit and clean breeze scents. For a sharp masculine room, combine a fresh smelling wood smell with citrus or sage. Mixing vanilla and coconut will emote a warm, beachy feel.

Bowl of lemons

“Aroma is the ‘unseen force.’ It’s ephemeral, fleeting, and unpredictable. And it has a direct connection to our emotions.” -Mark Peltier

There are a couple little hints that may not seem so obvious.  More traditional audiences like more traditional smells. Plain ole lemon, cinnamon, lavendar, and vanilla work great for environments catering to that demographic.  For younger, edgier audiences, you want to add a little twist. Lemon rind, Fruit Punch Rum, or Lavendin are just a touch different and a touch more appealing to them.

The other thing is that setting the mood with smell also can influence behavior. Again, small doses of smells associated with an action will promote that action.  Cleaning associated smells tend to lead to thoughts or actions of cleaning.  Outdoor smells promote ideas or actions of going outdoors. Cinnamon roll is the only smell that studies keep getting crazy results for.  One study found that cinnamon roll smell definitively promotes helpfulness, and another found that it was one of the most sexually arousing smells for men,beating out all of the most popular perfumes (haha! boys…).

The important thing to remember is that there should be a purpose and logic to the aroma in your surroundings.  For months I was content to live with the burnt toast smell that followed my consistently haphazard breakfast attempts.  However now, after coming home to a fresh and clean smelling apartment and hearing others complement me on the ambiance, I won’t go back.  Mastering this one seemingly miniscule detail will make a world of difference in your home.