Thinking back to my childhood home, I remember the smells most vividly: the jasmine growing by the mailbox; the honeysuckle vines climbing the back fence; the clean, simple scent of baby bubble bath; even the subtle background scent of polished wood floors. Scent tends to be more closely tied to memories than any of the other senses, making it the perfect vehicle for tapping into your most cherished memories. Of course, it’s not all about the past. Delicious smells can make your home and garden a wonderland of sensory pleasures — so you can savor the moment today and create new memories to treasure tomorrow.
Bath time. The hot water of a bath or shower is a great aid in diffusing scent. Take advantage of that fact and choose a special bath product or essential oil that makes you breathe a sigh of relief. Whether you crave the simple, clean scent of Ivory soap or a rich, woodsy essential oil, honor your heart’s desires.
Breakfast. Do you remember waking up to the smell of pancakes, bacon and freshly squeezed juice? Why not treat yourself to a repeat of your childhood favorite breakfast this weekend — soft-boiled eggs and toast soldiers, anyone?
Amy Renea, original photo on Houzz
Vanilla beans. There is something magical about the vanilla bean. Let the warm, comforting scent of vanilla fill your house by baking a batch of sugar cookies, or place a few drops of vanilla in a bowl of warm water to let the scent diffuse.
Fragrant flowers. Let Proust have his madeleines — I’ll take flowers by my front door. Jasmine, honeysuckle and other fragrant flowers can prompt powerful emotional memories. If there is a special flower you remember growing near your childhood home, or in another place that was special to you, see if you can plant that same flower at your current home.
Jeni Lee, original photo on Houzz
A row of lavender. A lavender-lined walkway is a wonderful thing. Just imagine coming home each day and brushing your fingers across the leaves, the scent releasing into the air as you go by.
Tomato vines in the sun. I remember summers in my grandfather’s garden when the tomatoes were ripe on the vine. I would go lie underneath them, the scent of the tomato vines curling around me as the light filtered through the leaves. Tomatoes themselves are not nearly as fragrant — my young son has already noticed this, and loves to sniff the tomato vines in our backyard.
Sarah Greenman, original photo on Houzz
Scents on the evening breeze. As with those rows of lavender along the front walk or that jasmine by the front door, consider where you place other fragrant plants to get as much pleasure from them as possible. Surround your porch with beach roses, plant lilacs under your bedroom window and hang a window box of herbs beside the kitchen sink.
Coffee or tea. Which one does it for you? For me, it’s both! There is nothing like the smell of freshly ground coffee brewing first thing in the morning … but bending over a mug of deliciously fragrant tea can be equally wonderful. If you’ve been having the same beverage every day for years, experiment with something new.
Dreamy Whites, original photo on Houzz
Cut flowers. Treat yourself to cut flowers — whether from your own garden or the farmer’s market — regularly. Smell before you buy and choose the ones you love most. Or place a single fragrant bloom in a glass on the bedside table to encourage sweet dreams.
Perfume. Smelling the perfume or cologne that someone you loved always wore can instantly call up a vivid memory. If you want a blast from the past, track down the scent you wore in high school.
Avocado Sweets Design Studio, original photo on Houzz
Baking bread and bubbling soup. What cooking smells do you most love — baking bread, warm cookies, a bubbling pot of soup or chili? Whatever kitchen creation you most want to smell in your home, put that on the menu for the coming week. Even better, make a few batches so you can stash one in the freezer for quick comfort on another day.
Fire and smoke. The smell of a campfire has to be one of the most primal scent memories around. Channel your inner child — or caveperson — and gather around the fire pit for dinner.
Freshly cut grass. Mowing the lawn may not always top the list of favorite things to do, but the pleasure of smelling freshly cut grass is undeniable. And for those with fond memories of a farm childhood, why not bring back the scent of the hay barn by tossing a bale or two in the backyard to use as summer seating? Covered with old quilts, hay bales make comfy bench seats.