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history of home fragrances

April 06, 2018

history of home fragrances

The popularity of home fragrances is growing, leading to better and more advanced ways of personalising the aroma of any domestic space. But this practice has a surprisingly long and complicated history, too!

Home Fragrance in the Ancient World

Even the earliest civilisations found ways to add a pleasant fragrance to living spaces. There are many early recorded instances of fragrance use concerning new ways of perfuming the air, rather than the body – and everyone from Ancient Egyptian priests to medieval courts grew to embrace the appeal of a great scent in public and domestic spaces. The Ancient Greeks believed scents could be a literal gift from the gods, and later developed perfumes for use on skin using oil and resin, as the first civilisation to link fragrances to hygiene practices. In the early Middle Ages, Europe was experiencing a lull in fragrances, which were considered too frivolous for the serious and pious era. However, China was busily incorporating fragrances into every space possible, and even adding scent to stationery products!

The Developing Art of the Home Fragrance

Following the Crusades of the 11th century, Europe was inundated with new fragrances as knights returned with rosewater gleaned from their adventures. This sparked what would become an enduring love affair with scent, with alcohol-based fragrances replacing solid fragrance alternatives. Medieval Italy was at the forefront of this revolution - and remained the epicentre of the perfume industry for hundreds of years. France got in on the home fragrance act during the 1500s, after Catherine de Medici brought her personal parfumier to the country; King Louis XIV was equally as enthusiastic about scent – his distaste for bathing, in keeping with ideas about water spreading disease, led to an expansion in the want and need for great scents for domestic spaces. The western world was gripped by a perceived link between a pleasant aroma and disease prevention, so items such as reed diffusers and portable scents became desirable.

Fragrance in the Modern Home

In the 1800s, synthetic compounds enabled the creation of fragrances which were much more affordable for home use. While the mid-20th century saw a peak in usage of artificial air fresheners, there’s been a recent boom in designer scents for the home, created by some of the top fragrance houses in the world. Using a delightful home fragrance is now once more considered to be less about covering odours, and more about creating a welcoming atmosphere using scent – resulting in an effect which can be every bit as individual as the people living in the property.