If we were living three, four, even five thousand years ago, the purpose for “home fragrance” would have been less glamorous than our pure aromatic pleasure. Across Ancient Egypt, China, and Greece, resins were used to mask ceremonial sacrifices, incense smoldered to attract the attention of the gods, and herbs and spices were crushed to ward off the perils of disease. The very thought makes one grateful for the variety of ways and fragrances we can procure to scent our modern spaces.
Whether you hold fast to a signature scent throughout your home or dabble in new discoveries every season, we’ve rounded up the most pleasure-inducing fragrances from those with a nose for decadence.
I first spied these potent sprays at the Sunstone Spa boutique at Agua Caliente Resort Casino Spa. Blended in Long Beach since 1977, the mists require only a couple bursts to turn shower steam into an instant spa experience that eases breathing and clears the mind. I favor the Lavender, Citrus, and Pure Eucalyptus.
DIFFUSERS FOR ANY NEST
“For hostess gifts, I’m always welcomed when I arrive with a Nest Moss & Mint or Tarragon & Ivy diffuser,” says designer Larry Lazzaro of Nicholas Lawrence Design.
Designer Michael Ostrow of Grace Home Furnishings loves the Nest reed diffuser in Bamboo. “It has a crisp, clean, modern fragrance” he enjoys both in his own home and clients' homes. Nest diffusers last approximately 90 days.
PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY NEST
Coconut Milk + Vetiver
by Sydney Hale Co.
One of the most unusual and addictive room sprays I’ve tried — and I’ve tried many. Long lasting and rich but light, it smells grassy, creamy, and tropical as suntan lotion.
PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY SYDNEY HALE CO.
PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY JOSHUA TREE CANDLE COMPANY
LOCALLY POURED CANDLES
Spa-quality maker Modern Luxxe has introduced its Luxxe Collection candles in matte glass vessels with a wooden lid. Once the phthalate-free candle made of all-natural apricot and coconut wax has burned, reuse the oversize jar as a decorative container for makeup brushes, cotton balls, pens, or household odds and ends. Scents from this husband-and-wife duo based in Beaumont include Cacao + Coffee Bean; Black Rose + Vanilla; Orange Blossom + Fig; Cedarwood + Neroli Balsam; Lavender + Ylang Ylang; Ginger + Coconut; and Yuzu + Pear. Look for smaller sizes this summer.
From a bohemian storefront in Twentynine Palms, Habitat sells three phthalate-free, coconut wax candles infused with essential oils. Mango Papaya is uplifting and energizing; Walk in the Woods wafts up in fresh pine. “And if you’re looking for a comfort candle that makes you want to relax and pick up a book, Tobacco Leaf Caramel is the one for you,” says owner Blanca Bribiesca.
Candles in scents that reflect the region are popular at Thick as Thieves in downtown Palm Springs. The in-house label pours High Noon and Naked Spur candles in simple clear jars. Imported from the High Desert, the soy wax Campfire candle from Joshua Tree Candle Company evokes a desert night, joining Prickly Pear, Yucca Bloom, Pinyon Pine, and Morning Sage scents. The store also stocks sticks of palo santo wood, often burned to purify a space of negative energy.
PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY HABITAT
PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY THICK AS THIEVES
Compagnie De Provence Liquid Marseille Soap in Fleur D’Oranger
Until I spend summers in France, this orange blossom soap has a transportive quality, lingering on with its soft, honeyed bouquet.
PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY COMPAGNIE DE PROVENCE
PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY NEST FRAGRANCES
JUICY FRUITS & FLOWERS
“For the kitchen, I always have a Nest candle in Grapefruit,” says designer Lawrence Lazzaro of Nicholas Lawrence Design, who carries the Nest line at the firm’s store, Modern Hacienda. “Cooking odors clean away very quickly, and Nest candles last a very long time.” His tip: Once the top layer of wax melts, blow out the candle. (The fragrance continues for quite some time.) “And trim the wicks to keep them short; this avoids smoky air and a sooty container.”
The Nectar candle by Trina Turk throws its sweet scent from a tapered glass holder that shimmers like golden sand under the midday sun.
“I love light citrus scents in the desert,” says designer Christopher Kennedy. His clients and showroom shoppers agree. Kennedy’s I Heart PS candles share bright notes of Grapefruit (green heart) and Lemon Basil (orange heart).
Water lily, bergamot, sweet musk, freesia, and aloe water make up the fresh notes of the Poolside Breeze candle by fashion designer and boutique owner Candice Held. Hand-poured in Laguna Beach of a vegan soy wax blend, each sits inside a gift box printed with Held’s “Parrots and Proteas” design with a matching silk twill tie and gold foil matchbook.
PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY TRINA TURK
PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY CANDACE HELD
PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY CHRISTOPER KENNEDY
PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY LE LABO
EARTHY & EVOCATIVE
“Sometimes I’ll use something exotic, like the Nuit A Marrakech candle with a cedar wick from Pure Atlas in Palm Springs,” says designer Dorothy Willetts. Made in Morocco by a family boutique candle maker, the soy wax candle gets its orange blossom and oud scent by way of fragrant oil from Grasse, France (considered the world’s capital of perfume).
Passing through the iconic Moorish archway of Korakia Penione, guests are greeted by the warm aroma of Le Labo Palo Santo 14 candles flickering in the lobby. Throughout the historic 1920s properaty, bundles of palo santo and sage are burned to “cleanse spaces, promote healing, and invite guests to enjoy a deeper, more mystical experience.” In the rooms, luxurious Santal 33 bath products from Le Labo combine in a complex but not too heavy scent of warm woods, notes of incense, and leather. “In short, the fragrance represents everything that Korakia is known for: warmth, soul, luxury, and escape.”
Designer Carla Kalwaitis will light up any candle by Jo Malone or Tom Ford. But the warmth of the citrusy Goji Tarocco Orange candle by Voluspa makes it her go-to. Its fusion of goji berry, ripe mango, and tarocco orange are inimitable. “One of the most magical and identifiable things in the desert is the scent of the orange blossoms in the spring. It’s what people love about coming here,” Kalwaitis says. “This candle allows us to experience that scent whenever we want.”
The display of Trapp Fragrances candles at Hedge sparks conversation between the owners and their clientele who drop in to see what vintage furnishings and artwork have come in. Trapp insists theirs are “the most fragrant candles on the market, guaranteed to fill a room.”Fresh Cut Tuberose is the shop’s top-seller. Owners Charles Pearson and Thomas Sharkey favor the Vetiver Seagrass.
PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY PURE ATLAS
PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY LE LABO
PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY VOLUSPA
PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY TRAPP FRAGRANCES
Sandalo by Ortigia
Warm, earthy, and seductive, this is the sophisticated Italian version of hippie sandalwood.
PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY ORTIGIA