The word “home” has a strange power. It conjures an emotional response by bringing to mind feelings of safety, comfort and familiarity.
But in our quest to create the aesthetically perfect home, in our careful consideration of color, design, and light, we often overlook one decorating technique that truly makes a space our own: the emotional connection.
Of course color and design choices do reflect our personality and help us connect to a place, but it’s the addition of personal items that brings a deeper level of comfort and identity to a space. Infuse your personal history into a room, and you’ll not only create a sense of the familiar, but you’ll also provide a unique experience for you and your guests to connect in a more deep and meaningful way.
The strongest and most vivid memories are stirred through scent. You probably remember the smell of your father’s closet or the particular aroma that surrounded you when you walked through the side door into the kitchen after school. And while you might not be able to describe the scent, you know it intimately. You might not have visited your childhood home for decades, but the scent of the place caught in a piece of fabric transports your spirit there instantly. So why not incorporate this magical element into our living space? Imagine its nostalgic impact!
A woman named Kate from Savannah, GA keeps an enormous potted lilac bush in her living room. Liliac is an odd choice for a house plant to be sure, but in spring, the blooms fill her stately, Georgian home with a soft, powdery, floral aroma. The ceiling fans usher the scent from room to room, creating a soothing, almost intoxicating atmosphere. When asked why she chose to keep the huge lilac bush potted indoors, Kate said that the smell reminded her of her dog!
She went on to explain that as a girl, she had a little Jack Russell Terrier who she adored. His name was Pim, and they were inseparable. When Pim died, he was buried in the front garden right outside Kate’s bedroom window. Seeing Kate’s grief, her grandmother suggested she plant a lilac bush over Pim’s grave, and explained that by doing this, the plant’s roots would reach down into the earth, and over time, the bush would be nourished by the little dog’s body. Kate’s grandmother promised that by the following spring, the bush would produce blooms that would always remind her of Pim – since Pim was literally a part of the lilac bush. And sure enough, the following spring the lilac bush bloomed, and through the open window, Kate could smell the sweet, soft lilac flowers wafting through her bedroom window. She said it always felt like Pim was there with her every time she smelled the lilac.
Years later when she left home for college, she took a cutting from the lilac bush and planted it in a pot which she took with her everywhere she ever lived. Today, it’s a very large bush in her living room, and Kate says it reminds her not only of Pim but also of her grandmother who gave her the idea to plant it.
So this large but unassuming lilac bush serves to add life, personal history, nostalgia and a lovely fragrance to an old Georgian home . . . not to mention a delightful and heartwarming story to share with guests.
Adding a scent to our living space that is laden with special meaning – whether it’s a cedar chest, a wood burning fireplace, fresh herbs in the kitchen, or an aromatic wreath – conveys a comfort and familiarity that transforms a simple living space into that place we call home.