Why Don’t You… Make Your Apartment Smell Decadent?

How to Scent Your Home Like a Grown Up, According to an Expert

Why Don’t You… Make Your Apartment Smell Decadent?

‘Why Don’t You’ is my weekly tribute to legendary editor Diana Vreeland who penned a column of the same name for Harper’s Bazaar for 26 years begging, “Don’t just be your ordinary dull self. Why don’t you be ingenious and make yourself into something else?”

I love to burn candles and the atmosphere they create. Whether I’m cooking dinner, reading in bed, or simply laying on the floor typing on the computer, I love to burn a scented candle.

I also have a dog nose. My family jokes that it’s because I used to smell my food. I’m very particular about the scent in my apartment and use candles as a way to define different spaces. But that’s not an easy thing to do when you live in a tiny studio apartment. I reached out to Teri Johnson of Harlem Candle Company to get tips on scenting our spaces.

Keep scrolling to see what she has to say. Plus, she offers tips on how to take care of the candles that we bring home.

“The most important thing to remember when you’re trying to scent a small space is that you don’t want anything too overpowering,” Johnson told me a pop-up shop late last year. “Choose a scent with a softer, more subtle throw, like the Holiday candle.”

How to Scent Your Home Like a Grown Up, According to an Expert

Johnson infuses all of her scents “with fragrance notes that create a perfect harmony and base notes that can sing, dance, and celebrate the old and new Harlem Renaissance.” The Holiday candle has fresh pine, eucalyptus, and hyacinth notes pulled from Billie Holiday’s signature perfume, Coty’s Emeraude.

“I would only light it for a little while because once you blow it out the scent lingers,” Johnson said. She also recommends choosing scents with good hot and cold throws. “A cold throw is the way a candle smells when it isn’t lit, while a hot throw is how it does when it is.”

When you first light your candle, Johnson suggests, waiting to do it when you have enough time to let it burn for at least an hour. “You want the wax to burn evenly because candles have memory. When you don’t let the wax burn evenly that first time, your wax will begin to tunnel and shorten your candle’s burn time.”

But, she cautions, you don’t want to let the candle burn too long. Burning a candle for longer than four hours at a time causes carbon to build up on the wick. That makes the wick unstable. Then the flame could get too big, the candle could smoke, or soot could get around the candle’s rim.

How to Scent Your Home Like a Grown Up, According to an Expert

I mixed Josephine, an opulent Oriental scent with citrus, Moroccan rose, Indian jasmine, and amber notes, and Holiday into my rotation of Diptyqye candles. For a first-timer who isn’t sure where to start Johnson recommends Savoy. The candle is a tribute to the Savoy Ballroom. It stood on Lenox Avenue between 140th and 141st. Langston Hughes said was once the “Heartbeat of Harlem.”


What scents do you like to burn in your home? What is your favorite candle company?

Check out Harlem Candle Company online here. Follow the brand on Instagram and Facebook, too.

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