By HOLLY VERBECK | Moonshine Ink
Winter shortens our days and darkens our homes. At this time of year, we become aware of the role our noses play in creating true ambiance in our home. We’ve all entered a musty vacation rental with a certain crypt-like smell and thought, “if the house smells like this, how great can the bedding be?” (Hint: these homes usually have avocado-colored appliances from the ’70s and shag carpeting. See here). But this olfactory phenomenon exists even in homes with decorator-selected throws, pillows, and collector’s art, too. That’s because our keen bloodhound sense of smell tells us more about our surroundings than our eyes!
What’s the greatest recipe for a vibrant homescape? An interior decorator will tell you lighting, rich colors, and brilliant accents make for a welcoming home (you don’t need me for that). But, sprinkle in some refreshing fragrances from candles, salt lamps, or diffusers and you lack only the two final ingredients to make your home the most inviting on the block: fresh air and the smell of a home-cooked meal.
I work at a home office alongside my chef husband (yes, he cooks all our family meals from scratch) and every time someone enters our home they remark how wholesome and welcoming it is. I assure you this isn’t because of high-budget décor or design — it’s the aroma! Long winters aren’t so dark if each day the house is warmed by the smells of a crackling fire and fresh bread — or a batch of chocolate chip cookies — baking in the oven. But cooking also makes the house stale (think bouillabaisse or fish fry), so airing out your winter home is essential — especially if your décor is ‘70s rust-colored shag carpet.
Instinctively we all know bathrooms need fresh air, approximately six to seven air exchanges per hour in fact. Bedrooms and living rooms require this treatment as well. It may be 25 degrees out but when you head into town to run errands open every window in the house. The result? An hour later you’ll return to a mountain-fresh living space.
It’s true your house will be colder until the heat comes back up but the exchange of stale air for fresh, oxygenated mountain air will do more for you each day of the season than any set of color-bursting pillows from Pier 1! Inviting space isn’t just about color, fixtures, and lighting. It’s about aroma and the actual airspace. So, bring on the long winters — open your windows every day and bake some apples on the stove!
~ Holly Verbeck is a certified household and estate manger and runs HeyChef!, a private chef and culinary staffing company that specializes in helping you be a guest at your own party.