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fragrance

Hitting all the right notes

With a growing array of scented candles, incense sticks and diffusers available, Caitlin Agnew sniffs out what's behind a desire for a fragrant space

As shoppers continue to place a premium on unique experiences over off-the-rack products, hotels, restaurants, boutiques, fitness studios, spas, cocktail bars and even fashion shows are all upping the sensorial aspects of their businesses through custom scents. Now, those perfume-like aromas are becoming equally prevalent in private homes.

The explosion of niche perfume houses, led by Le Labo and its now ubiquitous eau de parfum Santal 33, along with a growing awareness of the benefits of aromatherapy has lit a fire under the home fragrance trend. This pricey habit (Le Labo's hand-poured candle blends start at $82) became even more visible via the popular 2016 lifestyle volume, The Little Book of Hygge about the Danish concept of elevated coziness, that proclaimed that, "No recipe for hygge is complete without candles."

"I really feel that home fragrance is an invitation to your guests," says fashion designer Lauren Bagliore. Based in Calgary, Bagliore burns handmade-in-Italia Tiziana Terenzi candles in Gold Rose Oudh at home and at her Inglewood neighbourhood boutique, where they retail for between $95 and $265. "It was a good marriage between what we do at Lauren Bagliore and what we wanted to communicate to our clients about who we are."

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For the flame averse, reed diffusers have recently been reformulated in an innovative liquid-less format by New York's Nest Fragrances. Featuring scented sticks infused with pure fragrance oil, the new delivery system is an attractive and low maintenance option for anyone sharing a living space with rambunctious pets or children, says Nest CEO Nancy McKay. "I think people are looking for easy ways to elevate their day, and home fragrance accomplishes that," she says. "You come home and you open the door and your house smells just a little special."

For those craving a more immediate hit of a unique bouquet, Australian brand Aesop recently launched its first trio of room sprays. Available in a smoky floral, a woody oriental and a fresh citrus, the new formulations "provide a flexible approach to scent a room when you need it," says Dr. Kate Forbes, Aesop's general manager of products and R&D.

Of course, incense has long been a popular choice among yogis and mystics, offering room fragrance with a spiritual bent. Toronto-based Julie Clark started making her own incense sticks in 2011 and has since added them to the offerings in her wildcrafted skincare line Province Apothecary. "I love to burn incense during meditation," she says. Her cedar wood, lavender and black spruce and fir balsam sticks are made with pure essential oils, vegetable glue, charcoal and bamboo.

With scent so closely tied to memory, filling your personal space with your favourite scent can also have an emotional effect. So the next time you want to brighten up your home, don't forget to offer your sense of smell something uplifting too.

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