Tips and Guides

Soothing Fragrances

Aside from masking unpleasant smells, these fragrances can cool, calm, and uplift you, too


We buy oils for burning and bathing, light scented candles if we need to relax, and fill our rooms with floral gels and plug-ins. Aside from adding life to the home, the reason why different fragrances are gaining a following stems from the need to relax at home after a long day at work. Home fragrances seem to trigger feel-good memories – making it an important addition to any space.

Styling by Gwyn GS Guanzon. Photographed by Jun Pinzon.

Read the original article ("Soothe the Senses”) in the May 2006 issue of Real Living Magazine. Download your digital copy of Real Living on the Real Living App ( now! Log on to for more details.  

Knowing the basics

Those who frequent spas should know essential oils­—they are diluted in carrier oils for use in massages. You can also add a few drops to water for burning or spritzing around the house.

Essential oils are flammable, soluble in oil and alcohol, and non-greasy. They are also expensive: the plants are harvested under special conditions and by hand to prevent any damage.

To ensure that you are buying the real thing, the store must be able to answer these questions:

  • Where did the oil come from?
  • Was the plant organically grown? 
  • Which part of the plant was used?
  • What is the plant’s Latin botanical name?
  • How was the oil extracted?
  • How long has the oil been in stock?
  • How and where is the oil stored? 
Some examples of essential oils and their effects:

Basil clears the mind of worries, helps you focus and concentrate, and uplifts people who suffer from depression, insomnia, and stress.

Chamomile relaxes and relieves anxiety, tension, and insomnia. This is good for hyperactive children, the frail, and the elderly.

Eucalyptus clears the head and calms emotions.

Some important tips that you must keep in mind:

  • Burners should be deep and bowl-like at the top for best results.
  • A few drops of lavender on your pillow will ensure a good night’s sleep.
Home Fragrances

Unlike essential oils, home fragrances do not affect our moods or have therapeutic effects. They deodorize or scent an odorless space, and give off a smell that reminds us of a person, a feeling, or a certain memory.  

Linen and Room Sprays

Spritz your choice of fragrance around a room, inside closets, or on cushions, curtains, and carpets. Do this on freshly laundered fabric and before and after ironing as well. 


Parts of a plant or flower are dried, scented, and placed in sachets and other containers. They are eye-catching, bright, and lovely. If you want them as centerpieces, it is always best to arrange them in layers. 

Tip: You can make an instant sachet. Place a spoonful of potpourri into the center of a handkerchief. Gather ends, tie with a ribbon, tuck into drawers.

You may also place potpourri in linen closets, display it in a small fishbowl, even give it away in dainty sachets as party favors.

Potpourri oils and fragrance oils

A few drops will revive a potpourri’s scent. Called refresher or reviver oils, potpourri oils can also be used for diffusers and burners. 

Gels and bars

Bought to mask odors, these products are usually placed in bathrooms, corners, and other inconspicuous areas.

Note: Always keep these gels, as well as other fragrances, away from the reach of children, as most are poisonous.


A popular way to relax is to light a scented candle. Now you can choose from among paraffin, soy, or beeswax candles in fruity, floral, classic, and spa scents. Soy and beeswax are better in that they are less likely to trigger allergies, do not produce soot, and burn longer than paraffin. They are more expensive, though.

How to know if a candle is of good quality:


  • It should smell as long as it’s lighted.
  • It burns around 16 hours per inch.
  • The scent is consistent.
  • It doesn’t drip. The area that surrounds the wick melts, leaving an outer wall.

Basically made of water, gum resin, and aromatic material, incense comes in sticks and cones. Frankincense and myrrh are not the only scents; some companies have them in fruits, florals, and even candy. Incense gives the room a very Asian atmosphere, so light them up during meditation or to simply fill a room with scent.

Flowers and potted plants

Nothing beats the real thing. Plants make houses less formal as well as clean the air and give it a nice atmosphere. Some of the plants that you can consider for the home include: Casablanca, stargazer, dwarf sui mei, verbena, sweet basil, and rosemary. 


  • Put your plants in small pots so you can bring them in for special occasions.
  • Potted, flowery plants cannot stay indoors for a long time—you have to place them under filtered light before you can gradually take them out.

Fresh flowers add color, natural decoration, and fragrance to interiors. A classic, elegant choice would be red roses in a dramatic arrangement.

Add some small potted herbs to your kitchen. They look pretty on a counter, and you can snip off a leaf or two for cooking.

Plants like this fresh verbena can add freshness to any room, giving it a nicer atmosphere and making it more inviting.


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