Aromatherapy In Your Home

Antique recipe book

Mom’s first recipe book

Consider this recipe that I recently found in my mother’s decrepit family recipe book:

Peppermint Oil – To stop vomiting, saturate a cloth in peppermint oil and lay it across the bare stomach.

Amazing isn’t it?  I am guessing this recipe dates back to the early 1900’s  as it is from my great-grandmother, Ma’am Beech’s original recipe book passed down through the family.  It later became part of my mother’s first recipe book as a young woman in the 1940’s.

Pure peppermint oil placed on the stomach to soothe discomfort!  It sure beats all the commercial medicinal treatments by a mile!

Buckeye butterfly on flowers

Photo credit: Susan Muehl

My friend and colleague, Jannette Semenic (well educated in the field of aromatherapy) told me one way she uses peppermint oil.  She said, “I use peppermint oil as a natural breath freshener.  I simply dab a few drops of the oil on my tongue”.  It certainly makes you wonder why we all buy Tic-Tacs and Lifesavers that are full of ingredients we don’t need in our bodies.  Jannette knows that the simplicity of what nature has to offer us is the best tonic for us.

A history of essential oils

Natural oils are derived from flowers, leaves,  the bark of trees, roots and any other part of a plant or tree that has medicinal properties.

From the earliest of times, oils have been used for medicinal purposes.  In fact, as far back as 4500 B.C. there are historical records of the use of essential oils.  Furthermore, the Bible is full of notations about herbs and essential oils.  Considered mankind’s first resource for medicinal purposes,  oils were at one time even more precious than gold.

Essential oils in modern times

Purple wildflowers

Photo credit: David Solganik

Today, essential oils can be found in many of the products we commonly use on a daily basis.  I for one think retailers and corporate America have manipulated us with these products  because in truth they rarely contain much of the essence of the plant from which they originate.  Yet, we spend endless amounts of money on these new products every single day knowing full well they often contain a mere smidgen of nature’s gold.  Amazing.

Here’s an example- one day recently I was really missing my precious little granddaughter, Ansley (you know, God’s Littlest Angel) and so instead of using my normal hand lotion, I used a lotion I have for when she visits.  It is a product for babies.  It is meant as a calming lotion for bedtime and has the words lavender and vanilla on the front of the bottle.  Not to discount this product but, in reading the list of ingredients there is no mention of what percentage of oils this product contains.  So, how much calming from the lavender and vanilla is really going on?  Makes you wonder, doesn’t it?  Why not simply put a dish of fresh lavender in the baby’s room?  Or diffuse through the air a mixture of distilled water and organic lavender oil prior to bedtime?

Using essential oils in a form such as a diffuser is one form of Aromatherapy.

Aromatherapy is the practice of using natural oils to enhance both physical and psychological well-being.  As I said in a recent post, The Smell Test, the number one crucial ingredient required to make your homespace beautiful is a wonderful smell.  Seriously, the nose knows and the brain remembers.

Soothing the energy of your space with fragrance

Busy bee

Photo credit: Susan Muehl

Smells can transport you to other times in your life.   How many times do you smell something and immediately connect it to a memory of something?  My friend, Jannette and I were talking about this.  She told me how she always remembers going to her grandmother’s home and seeing fresh orange peel hanging in the kitchen.  To this day she uses essential oils such as tangerine to transport her back in time to being with her grandmother.  Talk about creating warm fuzzies!

For years as a young mother I had a special pot I used to keep fresh cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg in on the stove.  I would keep the pot of spices (in water) on a low simmer so that the wonderful aromas of these spices would fill the air. This was my first use of aromatherapy to create beauty in my home.

Wyndmere Ultrasonic Nebulizer

My Wyndmere Nebulizer

Now, I use a nebulizer for diffusing essential oils into the air.  After having tried several, I have settled on one that works best for me.  It is manufactured by a company called Wyndmere and can be bought in stores or online.  Every single day I use it in my home office to bring fragrance and medicinal therapy to the air.  All essential oils have specific benefits to them.  My choices of which oils I use each day are for whichever benefit I am aiming for.  (You can bet if I am working late in the evening at my desk I have a mixture of lavender and lime in the nebulizer filling the air to prepare me for a restful night!)

Essential oils can do wonders for our homes and our bodies.  Absolutely, positively I believe they have medicinal benefits.  Look for future posts about specific oils such as Lavender, Lemon, Sandalwood, Lime, Frankincense and my favorite, Fragonia by Wisdom of the Earth.  In these posts I will give you an explanation of their uses and benefits.  I hope you enjoy learning about them and decide to infuse your home with oils yourself.  I cannot stress enough the restorative powers nature has for us in essential oils.

Go for the gold

Using essential oils is one way to honor yourself and your homespace.  Simply by infusing oils in the air you can manipulate the energy around you.  You can change negativity, lower stress and restore harmony.

Nature's wondrous scents

Photo credit: Susan Muehl

Also, by using oils that evoke good memories attached to them, you continue to create an atmosphere of good feelings.  In this busy, busy world we live in we want our homes to create a sanctuary of calm for us to surround ourselves with.  Pleasing fragrances are certainly one way to help.

Using essential oils to beautify your home is also being kind to the earth.  Keeping things as pure and simple as possible is living with global consciousness in my book.  I believe that as part of humanity we must both singly and collectively connect with nature.  Using 100% natural oils in your home is one step in this direction.

Yep, essential oils are liquid gold – for many, many reasons.   Beautify your home with the aroma of nature.

Go for the gold…

“Always remember, there is nothing better for your home than a breath of fresh air.  Occasionally open your windows and let nature inside!”

View Your Home Through The Lens of A Camera

Picture yourself preparing for a photo session.  What do you do to prepare?  What details are important for you to cover for the shoot?  Hair?  Makeup?  Outfit?  Backdrop?  Attitude?

Smile for the camera!Asking these questions takes me back to the yearly professional photography sessions I had my children endure.  In particular, I remember one that all the cousins were in together.  My daughter, Sammi was about 8 months old at the time and was a constant thumb sucker.   The photographer walked up to her right before he clicked his camera for the first shot and popped her thumb out of her mouth.  Big Mistake.  She set off on a wailing session that outlasted the photo session.  When I look at that family picture even today, the tenseness in her brother, Ben’s face and all the cousins is clear.  Sammi having her thumb pulled out ruined the picture!  Not the best Kodak moment by a long shot!

As an Interior Decorator, I have had many photo sessions for my portfolio of client projects.  (Thanks to Cameron Triggs!)  Taking part in these sessions is truly eye opening.  It can take hours to prepare for a simple shot of a room.  Every detail needs to be perfect because the camera lens is unforgiving.  What looks OK to the naked eye can look cluttered and unkempt through the lens of a camera.

Flowers in kitchen

Photo credit: Kathleen Aliff

Which leads me to how others see our homespace.  We tend to live in our homes.  I mean really live in our homes.  Being in them from day to day we get used to ignoring certain aspects of our space such as clutter on shelves,  poorly arranged knickknacks and crooked pictures on the walls.  Not to mention obvious dust, cobwebs and throw pillows that have seen better days.  We get used to these minor little things and overlook them but, others that enter our space see things more objectively.  In other words, what we see in our homes is not the detail someone else sees just like the detail a camera picks up is so much more than we see.

My Helpful Hannah Tip

So here’s my Helpful Hannah Tip for achieving a more pleasing space.

View your homespace as if through the lens of a camera.

Seriously, literally go room-by-room, area-by-area and look at each part with your hands shaped like a camera lens. (Do this by making L shapes with the thumb and pointer of each hand and joining the thumbs to form a three-sided square shape.)  What you will pick up will be amazing.  You will begin to see every little detail.

Nursery shelves detailed

Photo credit: Cameron Triggs Photography

My dear friend (and realtor with Allen Tate Realty), Nancy Poe told me that whenever she meets with new clients to discuss preparing their home for sale, she urges them to go room-by-room and take pictures with their camera phones.  She tells them this really gives them an idea of what others will see when they come to look at their home as a potential purchase.

Over the years, I have helped Nancy stage, declutter and rearrange the interiors of many homes in preparation for being put on the market.  I have done simple things like take stickers off the backs of picture frames, remove dead leaves on plants, change shades on lamps, vacuum sofa cushions and remove personal items from bathroom sinks that no one else needs to see.  In other words, I have made the spaces picture worthy- without spending a dime on new things!

So, why is this important you might be asking?  Let me tell you why.  Your homespace is an outward reflection of you.  Just as you want to look your best when you go to work, school or a social function in order to give good impressions,  your home should look the best for the same reasons.  We are a direct reflection of how we live.  Treating your homespace with respect translates to respecting yourself as I express in a recent post, Treating Your Homespace With Respect.

What the camera picks up

While viewing your home through this “handmade” camera lens, look for problem areas such as:

Exquisite dining room

Photo credit: Cameron Triggs Photography

  • Clutter
  • Dirty windows
  • Smudges on mirrors
  • Dust on tops of doors, windows, and molding
  • Clutter
  • Pictures hung too high or too low on the walls
  • Crooked pictures on walls
  • Toilet bowl rings
  • Clutter
  • Messy electrical cords
  • Cobwebs
  • Dirty upholstery and rugs
  • Clutter
  • Plants in the wrong size containers
  • Dead plants
  • Improper wattage light bulbs
  • Clutter

By the way, did you notice I kept repeating the word clutter?

Absolutely, positively the number one thing that detracts from the beauty of your homespace besides an unpleasant smell is clutter.

Get rid of the clutter.  Period.

Make it pleasing to the eye

Lily's room

Photo credit: Sammi Blake

The saying, “A picture’s worth a thousand words” applies to your homespace.  Make a picture of your space through your handmade lens and create detail befitting you.   Make your space pleasing to the eye room-by-room.  The thousand words you will hear from those that enter you home will be words like beautiful, warm, cozy, uplifting, inviting, enjoyable, charming, exquisite, refreshing and so on and on.  I can guarantee it!  And, you deserve to live in a space that best reflects you!

 

Enjoy the living of life…

The Smell Test

How our homes smell is vital to creating a homespace that exudes good feelings, or what I call “warm fuzzies”.

This is important for you and all that dwell in your homespace.  It is also important for those that enter your home to get these same “warm fuzzies” from the smell of your home.

The Science of Smell

The olfactory nerves in the nose send information about the smell (scent) to the primary cortex of the brain.  The cortex is linked to the amygdala and the hippocampus of the limbic system.  The amygdala processes emotion.  The hippocampus is responsible for associative learning.  So, your brain forges a link between smell and memory.

When you first smell a new scent, you connect it to something such as a person, place or thing like an event.  Thus, the perception of smell consists of not only the sensation of the odors themselves but also of the experiences and emotions associated with these sensations.

Feel Good Memories of Smell

Think back to your childhood.  Do you have certain smells that bring back memories of childhood or days gone by?

Here’s an example.  My grandmother had holly bushes that grew outside her home.  I loved my grandmother dearly and looked forward to visiting her every summer.  Every visit began with the smell of those holly bushes as they were at the steps to her front door.  To this day whenever I smell hollies, I smile in memory of my dear grandmother, Nana.  Always.

Photo credit: Susan Muehl

Take the Smell Test

Here is how you can test your homespace.

Leave your home for a while, preferably several hours.  Upon re-entering your home, stand in the foyer or entryway of your home with your eyes closed.  Breathe in.  Do you smell anything?  Does it smell good, bad, or indifferent?  Continue this test in other areas of your home.  Obviously, you hope for good test results.  If you have something that smells distasteful, you know what to do- find it and remove it!

Do this test regularly.  If you are comfortable with asking a close friend to take the smell test in your home for you, do that as well.   Just make sure to ask them to do it with their eyes closed- it makes all the difference. Just be prepared for their response, as you might be surprised!

Creating wondrous smells in your homespace

Smell can bring a flood of memories, influence people’s moods, and even affect productivity.  This is why you want your homespace to have a pleasing smell.

If your homespace can use some help in the good smell department, there are numerous ways to achieve this.  Here are a few:

  • Open your windows regularly to let out stale odors.
  • Clean more often.
  • Remove trash and animal litter regularly.
  • Bring fragrant flowers indoors and place them all over the house.
  • Make bundles of dried lavender to use in your home.
  • Keep herbs such as fresh rosemary in your kitchen/home.
  • Use candles (safely of course) that are earth friendly.  I love having one lit in my kitchen at all times as even the flicker is soothing to the atmosphere.
  • Use diffusers with 100% essential oils.
  • Use odor eliminators (again, earth friendly).  My all time favorite is Fresh Wave.

Remember:  The smell of your homespace is the first thing that greets you (besides the family pet) and all that enter.  It sets the tone immediately.

Begin now to understand the importance of your homespace’s smell.  It doesn’t just affect the day-to-day living.  Your homespace’s smell has the power to create memories for you, the members of your family and all who enter.  Make sure they are warm fuzzy memories.

Also, look for upcoming articles on aromatherapy for the homespace!

One thought…

Beauty is not just viewed with the eyes.

Keep decorating…

Photo credit: Susan Muehl