Scents for the bathroom - creating a sanctuary of wellbeing

The bathroom, once a forgotten area of the home, is moving away from a purely functional role to becoming a space of retreat and wellbeing.

Scent can be integrated as part of a thoughtfully designed bathroom to amplify that experience and communicate its capacity as a space where we can live well.

People are more likely to enjoy a bathroom space where they feel comfortable in its sanctuary and privacy, yet at the same time fostering a connection with self and the natural world.

Scents of home

Home is very much entwined with our sense of wellbeing, an essential part of our ability to feel and function optimally. Home is a major factor in the emotional foundation of our happiness and feelings of comfort and security.

Our lives are becoming progressively busy and technology has made the work/home boundaries blurred. The biggest luxury we have nowadays is time - time away from the modern lifestyle, so that the idea of home as our refuge is becoming more significant.

In our digital world we focus excessively on the visual but often neglect how our sense of smell and aromas are a element in how we craft our environment.

Scents have a meaning in our lives and are unique to every individual - relating to their context, our past experience, culture, feelings or the people in our lives. Using scent in our home can make us feel better about how our home functions and how we feel about where we live.

Scents for creating a sanctuary of wellbeing

In its functional role as a place of cleansing, people are realising the bathroom's potential and importance as a place of comfort and rejuvenation.

The bathroom is often the only room in the house that has a lock; a last bastion of privacy, a sanctuary within the sanctuary of our home.

The bathroom's seclusion and private function supports our need at times for introversion and withdrawal into a cocoon-like environment - getting away from it all.

The ritual of bathing can either get us ready and motivated to face the day ahead or helps in the wind-down after a hard day. It's a midway point where we psychologically wash away past stress and are refreshed for what is ahead.

Modern bathroom design, where the bathtub is often a focal point, is influenced by the concept of bathroom as destination or as a home spa, which supports and nurtures the wellbeing experience and self-connection.

Bathrooms that include the use of natural materials and finishes, greenery or a view to the outdoors stimulate all the senses and echo the principles of biophilic design, that is, the satisfaction and calming effect intrinsic in a space that has used nature inspired design themes.

Scented spaces in general feel cleaner, fresher, larger and more stimulating. Using scent as part of the design of a wellness bathroom can make the bathing ritual more comfortable and enjoyable as well as assisting in the creation of a tranquil haven.

The Bathroom of Empress Alexandra Fyodorovna. 1870

Scents for your bathroom

These two essential oil blend examples below can be vaporised in your bathroom in an oil burner or diffuser.

Blend One: Get Up And Go

5 parts distilled lime, 4 parts cedarwood Atlas, 3 parts black pepper, grapefruit, 2 parts peppermint essential oils.

Use this refreshing blend to recharge or as a morning starter. Peppermint helps to awaken and increase alertness coupled with the spirited and enlivening aromas of the citrus oils.

You can make up a stock bottle of this blend and use a few drops on the floor of the shower if there are time constraints in the morning.

Our Shaman essential oil blend combines citrus and wood essential oils for a stimulating and refreshing aroma.

Both these blends can also be useful in a bathroom without windows to introduce an element of sensory stimulation.

Blend Two: Chill

5 parts bergamot bergaptene free, lavender, 4 parts clary sage, 3 parts rosemary, cedarwood Atlas, 2 parts patchouli essential oils.

A light, relaxing blend with a clean aesthetic to help you unwind and create an oasis of tranquility. Lavender is a perennial favourite for calming and relaxing but also has cultural associations with cleanliness and purification, deriving from the Latin "lavare", "to wash".

The expansive feel of this mix can be used to give a perception of space in smaller sized bathrooms.

The Scentcillo Greek Island blend is another consideration in the ritual of creating a sanctuary in your bathroom. This oil draws inspiration from the vivid, infinite blues of sea and sky in the Mediterranean and the peaceful and restful ambience they convey to their environment.

Shaman blend, evocative of a forest or outdoor setting, is also a complementary choice in a bathroom that has windows with views of nature. This draws from the Japanese tradition of "Shirin-yoku" which translates as "forest bathing" or "taking in the forest atmosphere". It has been found that the practice of sensory immersion when walking through forests and other natural environments or incorporating nature into the indoor space can have definite health benefits, not only mentally but physically. Essential oils found in forest species contain the aroma chemicals limonene (also abundant in citrus essential oils), alpha pinene and cedrol, contributing both to the forest scent and having a stress lowering effect.

General styling and design points for a restorative bathroom:

  • Keep your bathroom clean. Change towels, bath mats and shower curtains on a regular basis.
  • Natural light, fresh air and good ventilation are important.
  • Remove clutter.
  • A good sized mirror is not only functional but adds depth to a small space.
  • Incorporate biophilic principles with views to the outside or use potted plants to add greenery. Choose plants that like high humidity, for example, orchids, bamboo, peace lilies.
  • Include music as part of your multi sensory wellness bathroom.
  • Engage the sense of touch with plush towels, bathrobe or mat. Soft fabrics tone down hard edges in a bathroom and recreate a spa-like ambience.

Further reading

  • Wellness bathrooms restore calm in the modern Australian home. Domain.
  • How to update your bathroom. HomeLife.
  • 9 Steps to a clutter - free bathroom. Houzz.
  • Odour busters: how to banish bad smells from your home. Houzz.
  • Relationships between lavender aroma component and aromachology effect. ActaHort.
  • The influence of essential oils on human attention. i: alertness. Chemical Senses.
  • Trends in research related to "Shinrin-yoku" (taking in the forest atmosphere or forest bathing) in Japan. PubMed.
Arabian Bath