Home fragrance with Harry Slatkin
As a man who built a thriving brand on a refined nose, Harry Slatkin knows that interior decorating extends beyond the purely visual. "The easiest way to redecorate is with scent," says Harry, whose Slatkin & Co. candles, oils, room sprays, diffusers and scent portables wafted north of the border in September 2008 with the opening of the fi rst Bath & Body Works stores in Canada. The home fragrance aficionado talked with style at home about accessorizing with scent -- an oft-neglected detail that’s key to making a house feel like a home, he says.
STYLE AT HOME What makes scent an accessory?
HARRY SLATKIN Smell is our keenest sense. We smell before anything else. When dressing, I pick my shoes, shirt, suit and belt to coordinate with me, my mood and the setting I'll be in. The same should go for home fragrance. It should be layered, just as fashion accessorizing is. I always say, you can never have on too much jewelry: add a layer, but never take one away.
S@H How do you go about "layering" scent?
HS I've hosted dinners and used 12 scents, which all worked together, to create a certain mood. A plug-in fragrance is my background music. I then light a candle, and the aroma starts to sing. Next, I add an oil to power up the entire house with scent. Finally, I use room spray, which is my version of playing John Wayne -- two shots around the front door before guests arrive!
S@H How does someone decide on a fragrance?
HS Be honest with yourself. If you like fruit, buy a fruity fragrance. If you wear exotic scents, get something exotic for your home. After you've found your favourites, add something out of the ordinary to take it to the next level and create your signature.
S@H Are some scents better suited to some rooms?
HS Every room in our home has a scent -- we have 11 different fragrances going at one time. Plus, the scents in our beach house are different from those in our New York home. I like a milder, lighter aroma in the bedroom and bathroom to awaken my senses rather than relax them, so I usually choose an aromatherapy or light, fruity scent. I like mystery in my living room, so I use a sophisticated fruit and floral combination. When you
walk in from the hallway, you're greeted by an exotic aroma that sets the stage for fun and the unexpected.
S@H We all know the dangers of overaccessorizing. How much is too much when it comes to scent?
HS Have you ever been to the movies and sat behind a woman who has too much gardenia on? Her nose has shut down to that fragrance, and she can't smell it anymore, so she doesn't realize she's just suffocated an entire room. My point is, even when you have a favourite scent, you should go away from that particular fragrance for a while or combine it with something else to allow your nose to re-engage. When an aroma is new to your senses, you'll get the best idea of what works and what doesn't.
S@H What are your fave basic home scents?
HS Before I started my company, I used to boil apples on the stove. I'd then add a few cinnamon sticks and some cloves, and the fragrance would waft throughout the entire house. I also love the smell of lemons; it's so clean and tart. I always put a squeezed lemon in my refrigerator.