Elm Rd - Sustainable Scented Candles - Still Life
Making a home

The Importance
Of Scent

Words by Lucy Siddall

On encouraging the world to slow down, breathe and feel at peace,
one beautifully curated scent at a time. Lucy Siddall interviews Miguel Ángel.

Artisan fragrance studio, Elm Rd. began as ‘an awakening in nature’ when founder Miguel Angel wandered unexpectedly through Golden Gate Park in 2017.

Following a tightly packed and relentless work trip, Miguel craved the sensory experience of nature. As he walked into the park, gigantic eucalyptus trees with their heady scent loomed over him, the aromas evoking all sorts of wonderful memories. This unexpected yet meaningful experience left him feeling calm and restored. He wondered if the simple ritual of a walk could profoundly affect his mind and well-being; what if he could bottle up the scent and use it to help others find balance when they needed it most?

Home is not just a physical space; it’s safety. It is a place that represents a sense of belonging and connection. And the scents used within a home are an extension of this profoundly personal environment.

Leaning into this new interest, Miguel retrained as an aromatherapist, took perfumery courses and learned the science and skill behind natural perfumery. Committed to his new knowledge and determined to share the positive effect of his training, he translated his new skills into Elm Rd. From his kitchen table, Elm Rd. has grown into a stand-alone lab in London, and stockists sell the brand’s award-winning scents globally.

Lucy Siddall sat down with Miguel to discuss scent, its significance within a home and how to curate a space using fragrance and natural perfume.

For Miguel, home is not just a physical space; it’s where he feels safest. It is a place that represents a sense of belonging and connection. And the scents used within a home are an extension of this profoundly personal environment.

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According to Miguel, scent is crucial when creating a sense of affinity within a home. It welcomes you, grounds you and envelops you. Even if the lights are off, a room’s fragrance can instantly affect your mind, mood and thinking, creating a warm, personal and inviting atmosphere, reminding you of a specific time or place.

Scent is so powerful because it is directly linked to the brain’s limbic system—the part of the brain responsible for processing our emotional states and memories hence, says Miguel, its impactful nature and significance in the home.

With multiple ways to achieve scent, it is easy to confuse them. Home fragrance and perfume are similar in that they both involve a carefully layered composition of scent notes to create a unique fragrance for a desired purpose. However, Miguel points out that the two have some notable differences, meaning purchasing them separately is essential.

Perfume typically has a much higher concentration of fragrance or essential oils, around 15-25%, compared to scented candles and room sprays, which usually have a lower concentration, around 5-10%. But according to Miguel, the most significant difference between perfume and home fragrance is the intent. Perfume is an intimate expression of style and personality, a unique signature. Home fragrance, however, is designed to enhance the ambience and atmosphere of an often shared space.

Scents vary seasonally, and Miguel suggests picking one according to the time of year as a fun way to alternate the ambience and atmosphere in a home. Start by considering what you would typically associate with the season. For example, in autumn, earthy and woody scents like patchouli, vetiver and cedarwood evoke the feeling of crisp days and falling leaves. In winter, pine might be preferential for recreating a cool festive feel. You might prefer fresher, uplifting scents in spring, such as jasmine or neroli, or in summer, a light scent like bergamot, lime or neroli, reminiscent of long days spent in the Mediterranean, would be more fitting.

To get started on a journey with scent, Miguel has compiled six tips for picking a home fragrance that feels personal:

  1. Start with the familiar, loved or known - think of scents you love or that spark an emotion. Do you have a favourite flower, herb or perfume? Select a scent you know and love, for example, lavender and start there.
  2. Tailor the scent to the intention of the room - what atmosphere would you like to create? Is the room a bedroom where you want to evoke a feeling of relaxation? Or a kitchen where a fresh and invigorating scent is more suitable. Fragrances like cedar-wood or lavender are perfect for their calming and soothing properties, making them ideal for bedroom or living room use. Alternatively, citrus scents like bergamot or mandarine promote focus and concentration, perfect for a home office or study.Take inspiration from your surroundings, your favourite places or somewhere you’d like to escape to - recreate the scent of a memorable holiday, a treasured park or the sweet smell of roses in your garden. Bring the outside inside, or let your mind drift away to a faraway dreamland.
  3. Think about the season - what fragrances or feelings does the season you’re in evoke? Are you trying to revisit a cool winter’s day or the hot summer sun? Do you want to create a fresh or warm atmosphere?
  4. Rotate scents seasonally and regularly - our sense of smell can become fatigued, so to keep an environment fresh and interesting, Miguel recommends rotating fragrances regularly.
  5. Curate a multi-dimensional sensory experience - for a layered and multifaceted space, don’t limit yourself to one fragrance source. You can add scent to your home using scented candles, incense, reed diffusers, or natural fragrances like herbs or fresh flowers. Experiment with various options and find a unique combination that resonates with you.

Take your time - this process will be a matter of trial and error, so don’t rush. Start with one scent and go from there.

Scent is a powerful tool that can help us create a home that reflects our style and enhances our overall well-being. When we select scents that resonate with us on a personal level and layer them in meaningful and individual ways, we create a space that is not only beautiful but a true reflection of ourselves and our experiences.

Discover Elm Rd. here.