We sat down with Fragrance Designer Alison Banton, of County Wicklow-based Brooke & Shoals Fragrances, to ask her advice on how strategic scenting can enhance the ambiance in home or living area. We also find out what inspires the scent blends she creates for all of her Irish made products
Fragrance Designer and Founder of Brooke & Shoals, Alison Banton has been creating wonderful fragrance blends for her award-winning scented candles, reed diffuser and body products since 2010. She shares her best advice for creating a beautiful space with scent.
Scenting by season
When choosing the right scent to enhance the ambiance in her home, Alison uses a variety of different elements in her decision-making process.
“One of my favourite ways of home scenting is to customise the scent according to the season,” Alison says. She advises that the summer months call for a fresh and zesty touch, so she would choose citrus-based aromas that will boost the energy in the home. Heavier scents that will warm up the home are best-suited for the colder months.
“As the evenings are now starting to get colder and darker, I am introducing soft woody scents into my home. At the moment I’m obsessed with lighting our Jasmine Patchouli and Cashmere Woods candle in the evenings as the scent is so comforting and the flickering flame creates such a cosy ambiance.
“As we get closer to Christmas, I will move to scents that blend the woody notes with spices, like our wonderful Cinnamon and Cedar or our wintery Cedarwood Nutmeg and Orange, which provide the perfect scent backdrop for entertaining in the festive season.”
Then in the new year when the spring time returns, Alison recommends moving to uplifting fragrance blends: “Spring is all about newness and rebirth. Replace the heavy scents with joyful floral blends, like Sweet Pea and Tea Rose or Elderflower Rhubarb and Rose, as this will bring the outdoors in, and remind us of the promise of warmer summer days to come.”
Another thing to keep in mind when choosing a home fragrance is the functionality of the room itself. “When I am designing a new fragrance for my brand, Brooke & Shoals, I am mindful of matching the functionality of a scent to a location within my own home,” she says.
“A living room scent needs to be subtle and comfortable to be around for long periods of time and have universal appeal. I would use a reed diffuser here as they give a constant level of scent. A coastal floral blend like Lavender Cyclamen and Sea Salt or a sophisticated floral such as White Lily and Ylang Ylang, are perfect in the sitting room area.”
Alison recommends that kitchen/dining room scents need to find a balance between not over-powering the smell of delicious food before a meal, and then helping to clear the air of post-cooking aromas when the meal is over. So herbal or citrus blends are perfect.
“I love to have a Sweet Basil Bay and Neroli reed diffuser gently scenting our dining room. Then in the kitchen when our meal is over, I like to freshen up the atmosphere by lighting a Grapefruit and Lemongrass candle.”
She does not advise scenting a bedroom while sleeping as she believes that fresh air from an open window is the best aid to sleep. She prefers instead to locate a fragrance reed diffuser on the landing to create a calm atmosphere upstairs and uses a scent with neroli or lavender.
First impressions matter
Alison reminds us that first impressions matter. “Don’t forget when guests are about to arrive to your home, turn the reeds in your fragrance diffuser to ensure they are welcomed into your hallway with a beautiful aroma. This creates a wonderfully impactful multi-sensory experience that they won’t forget in a hurry.”
When asked about where she gets the ideas and inspiration for the innovative fragrance blends that she creates, Alison says that it can literally come from anywhere or anything.
“I can find inspiration in the beauty of nature all around me. This can come from the breath-taking coastline in Greystones where I live and have my fragrance business and shop. Or a walk in the many forests and hills nearby. I can get inspiration from people I talk to as their needs can spark an idea in my head.
“The feedback that we get from our customers has constantly inspired me to be more creative and drive my business forward. Brooke & Shoals Fragrances originally started with me making a few fragrance products in my own kitchen and has now grown into over 60 different products across our range of award-winning scented candles, fragrance diffuser and body products. We make all of our products in Ireland and are very proud of that. We supply over 300 retail stockists here and we export our range also.”
Alison’s interest in fragrance goes back to her childhood. “I have always been interested in scent and how it can make you feel and how it can bring back memories. When I smell the petals of beautiful roses, this conjures up happy memories of my childhood and picking pink rose petals as a little girl in my great-aunt Mollie’s circular rose garden to try to make perfume. Mollie used to say that the ‘babbling brook and the whispering shoals’ would help to turn my petal mixture into perfume. But overnight the kind old lady would add real perfume to the mixture, so fooling me into thinking I had designed the wonderful scent creation!
“My great-aunt and the mysterious ‘brook and shoals’ awakened my interest in perfumes, so when I decide to start my own fragrance business, I added an “e” and turned “Brooke & Shoals” into a name that has wonderful fragrances memories for me!”
Brooke & Shoals fragrance products are stocked nationwide in lifestyle stores, gift shops and beauty-focused pharmacies. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to find your closest stockist. Visit Brooke & Shoals Fragrances in their boutique in Greystones, Co Wicklow. Call 01 2874199; visit brookeandshoals.ie