Scents of space

By on May 1, 2012
Feng Shui creates a sense of spaciousness in interior settings which should appeal to all of your senses. One of the most powerful of these is your sense of smell. While it is obvious that the smell of musky gym socks is probably not good Feng Shui, there is more to it than that.

Do you remember as a child walking into your friends’ homes and noticing how each one had a different smell? As children we are more sensitive to and aware of smells, partly because we tend to have upturned noses that allow us to smell more from a greater distance. That scent that you smelled upon walking to a home is part of that home’s energy signature – it is just one way that one can recognize the unique energy of a residence.

It’s an interesting fact that our sense of smell is the most adaptable; this is why you can drive by a farm and feel overcome by the smell of manure, but in a few minutes adjust and no longer feel as disgusted. (The same applies to people who have put on too much perfume or cologne.) In fact, it’s been said that if we traveled back in time, the most shocking thing might be the smells – people bathed once a year in Shakespeare’s time. For this reason, your room or home might actually smell a bit more aromatic than you’re aware of – as a child, you probably smelled your friends’ homes more easily than you did your own.

The first order of business is being aware of what smells already exist in your space. The kitchen can be a great place to start, as any food that has gone off will start to reek. Check pantries, drawers, your fridge – and especially the crisper in your fridge, from which very little actually emerges crisp – for anything that might be past its best-before date. Another challenging area might be drawers and closets, as well as wherever you keep your laundry-in-waiting. The bathroom is an important area to check for odours – other than the temporary ones – with wet towels and shower curtains, as well as body care products, adding their fragrance to the room. If you have carpets, they could easily be trapping smells and infusing your home with a stale aroma.

It is important to be aware of the scents in products that you currently use. Dish soaps, laundry soaps, and body soap all have different fragrances, as do your shampoos and conditioners, shaving lotions, after shave lotions, deodorants, mouthwash, and toothpaste – and of course, perfumes and colognes! Various other cleaning supplies – window spray, toilet bowl cleaner, wood polish – all have their own particular aroma. If you are using multiple products, you might be creating a molotov cocktail of aromas that clash with one another.

Use unscented products whenever possible – this is particularly important if whatever is being cleaned comes into contact with your skin: laundry detergent should absolutely be unscented. Mixing different brands of body care can not only blend aromas unpleasantly, but the plethora of chemicals could react with one another, so aim to find one product line that you like. Also, never spray perfume or cologne on your body. Instead, master the ‘spray and walk’ technique: spray the air in front of you, wait a second or two, and walk through the cloud so that your clothes pick up the diffused scent.

Using aromas consciously is a powerful way to set the energy of a room or home. But I would advise against some of the more big-name commercial brands of plug-ins and other ‘air fresheners’, which use artificial ingredients and add add a chemical smell to the air that burns at the nostrils.  Aromatherapy can powerfully shift moods and sensations when well practiced. While this is outside of my professional arena, if you do a little research and consult a professional, you can certainly find a blend that will be appropriate for you and the energy you are looking to create. That said, there are lots of essential oils commonly available that can achieve various goals, from calming to energizing.

An aromatherapy oil burner or diffuser can be a wonderful way to distribute a natural, fresh smell in your space. They are well placed in corners, as they bring life to a place where energy tends to stagnate (you can tell where energy stagnates easily: it’s where dustbunnies accumulate). Spray bottles can also work very well. Aveda has ‘balancing body mist’ sprays that are formulated for each of the 7 chakras to help balance your mood and consciousness – a bit pricey but highly recommended (I spray the First one as part of my morning routine to help increase grounding). Neal’s Yard and other companies also produce aromatherapy roll-ons that you can apply to the inside of your wrists – but be careful of the energy-enhancing ones: I once took a whiff when getting off a plane at 8pm, tired fearful of jetlag, and ended up being awake until 2am! (Also, flying with them can be challenging as they sometimes leak with the change in air pressure.)

While there are many options for adding a scent to your space, remember that even when something is nice, if it is too much, it is too much. Simplicity is key. Don’t overdo it.

May every day be like a breath of fresh air.

Mark will be in Tokyo on May 12 and 13 for basic workshops (and then more advanced courses in the following days) and for a limited number of consultations. For registration information, please contact

About Mark Ainley

Mark Ainley is a Contemporary Feng Shui Consultant and Emotional Stress Consultant living in Vancouver. A former 5-year resident of Tokyo, Mark consults with clients internationally to help them design living and work spaces in alignment with their goals. He also provides consulting in emotional stress management, as well as in the connection between facial structure and innate behavioural and communication patterns. He can be reached through his website: and