Can the right scent re­ally help you sell your home?

The Daily Telegraph - Property - - Front Page -

Mar­cel Proust knew about the power of the senses to evoke happy mem­o­ries. Cues in ev­ery­day life – in his case, the smell of a madeleine dipped in tea – can spark a sense of se­cu­rity or joy. Re­tail­ers and hote­liers have ex­ploited our in­vol­un­tary re­sponses to cer­tain smells for many years, and es­tate agent folk­lore says that aro­mas of freshly brewed cof­fee or bak­ing bread can help sell a home. But does scent re­ally make us buy a house?

It cer­tainly per­suaded Judi Brad­bury, a per­fumer, to buy a prop­erty in the “wrong area”. Rather than walk­ing up and smelling the roses (or cof­fee), it was an ol­fac­tory “as­sault” of or­ange blos­som, lemon balm, hon­ey­suckle and lily of the val­ley. “We’d been scour­ing the Home Coun­ties and de­cided to take a look at the Grade II listed Geor­gian prop­erty in War­boys in Cam­bridgeshire,” says Judi, 54, who is mar­ried to Paul, an ar­chi­tect. “The heav­enly smell en­veloped us as we en­tered the prop­erty. I have al­ways loved flo­rals, which re­mind me of my mother, who had a dress­ing room full of beau­ti­ful glassstop­pered bot­tles of scent.”

Judi worked at Molton Brown be­fore be­com­ing a trained nose at Pen­haligons and then a pro­filer who matches peo­ple with the right fra­grances. In the per­fume room of the seven-bed­room house they bought three years ago she keeps rare sup­plies of the scents worn by John F Kennedy, El­iz­a­beth Taylor and Napoleon. Now that sev­eral of the cou­ple’s six chil­dren (aged 14 to 29) have left home, the fam­ily are mov­ing into the old barn in the grounds of their prop­erty, con­vert­ing it into a four-bed­room home and the 17th-cen­tury dove­cote into a per­fumery. The rest is for sale for £1mil­lion with Fine & Coun­try, and each room is a feast for the nose.

“Fra­grances im­prove your mood and you want peo­ple to re­lax as they walk around and feel that it is a refuge, a safe haven” says Judi. “The se­cret is to make peo­ple think ‘what a won­der­ful place’ with­out re­al­is­ing it’s the smell. Sub­tlety is key: over­pow­er­ing smells like patchouli can be a turn-off.”

A fan of Jovoy, the Parisian brand of scented can­dles, Judi uses one made with chest­nuts for the red evening room. “It has a rich, soft smok­i­ness that evokes the chest­nut blos­som in Paris ev­ery April,” she says. “For the morn­ing room, a very light room, I use a lemony, herbal scent that is up­lift­ing and smells of the sea­side.” The del­i­cate notes of an English herb gar­den up­lift the hall­ways, while a touch of jas­mine cre­ates sen­su­al­ity in the bed­room.

Scent­ing a home is a sea­sonal thing. For be­ing trans­ported by fresh, sum­mer fra­grances to the lavender fields of Provence, Si­mon Deen, di­rec­tor of es­tate agency As­ton Chase, swears by Manuel Canovas’ Palais d’Été scented can­dle for sell­ing homes. “I al­ways sug­gest that ven­dors use goodqual­ity scented can­dles; they form part of the cru­cial first im­pres­sion and can be a talk­ing point,” he says. “Along with Dip­tyque, I also rate Cire Trudon, another Parisian brand [which Marie An­toinette used]. Their Ernesto scent evokes Cuban ci­gars. It’s part of sell­ing a life­style.” He is mar­ket­ing homes at Buxmead on The Bish­ops Av­enue, where de­vel­oper Har­ri­son Varma com­mis­sioned aro­mather­a­pist Alexan­dra Soveral to cre­ate be­spoke scents for the su­per high end scheme of ser­viced apart­ments, where prices start from £6.9mil­lion.

“The quick­est way to add warmth and per­son­al­ity to a brand new home is to use scent – smell is very re­lated to our emo­tional state,” says Por­tugue­se­born Soveral, who has also cre­ated a High­grove scent for Prince Charles. “I used the cedars around the Buxmead site and the in­te­rior’s wood pan­elling as a start­ing point. The fresh Alpine wood smell of bal­sam fir evokes a sense of “wel­come home”. I think of Christ­mas trees and happy fam­ily times. I added pe­tit­grain [or­ange tree twigs] to lighten it up and in the cin­ema and bar ar­eas I used aged ve­tiver – think to­bacco and leather chairs – to add a sense of warmth and ma­tu­rity.”

Scent plays a part in cre­at­ing a nar­ra­tive or back story to a prop­erty – some­thing that is in­creas­ingly im­por­tant in help­ing to sell homes in high-end new schemes. At Jermyn Street’s Beau House, a bou­tique de­vel­op­ment in­spired by Re­gency dandy Beau Brum­mell, in­te­rior de­signer Oliver Burns used nearby per­fume house Floris (est 1730) to cre­ate a “Re­gency era” scent of fresh cit­rus, or­ange blos­som, frank­in­cense and myrrh for a feel of time­less­ness. Prices start from £2mil­lion.

For the lux­ury apart­ments of Chelsea Is­land, where prices start from £935,000, chan­dler Rachel Vosper cre­ated an up­lift­ing pe­tit­grain and berg­amot scent to com­ple­ment the soft grey and lemon decor. She sug­gests tak­ing the long view when con­coct­ing a homely scent: “Rather than use a spe­cific scent that is in fash­ion and will date, go for some­thing with longevity.”

Floris cre­ated a Re­gency-era scent for Beau House, above; Buxmead’s sig­na­ture scent, be­low, is the work of aro­mather­a­pist Alexan­dra Soveral

Trained nose Judi Brad­bury, main, uses dif­fer­ent scents around her house, in­clud­ing a smoky chest­nut can­dle in the red evening room, be­low

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