So, recently I went to London for two weeks and had this famous nightlife photographer from L.A. house-sit my 400-square-foot studio apartment in New York.
Because I'm secretly all sorts of "Warhol Diaries
" shallow and like to hear about his glamorous friends, I was into it, but here's what I've learned about men who go out until 6 a.m. every night for a living:
A) They smoke cigarettes in the house. A lot of them.
B) They like to have their friends over, a lot. And their friends smoke cigarettes. A lot of them.
C) Closed windows, A.C. and blackout curtains are big with this crowd. Fresh air and summer breezes are not.
Needless to say, when I returned from my trip, the place smelled like an ashtray. Not even like an apartment people had been smoking in -- like an ashtray
Luckily, I was a beauty editor at a big-name magazine for years. This is relevant because when you work in beauty at the big mags you're sent every conceivable home fragrance product
you ever dreamed of. And I hoarded them all!
Accordingly, I am a home-fragrance FREAK, and I know how to make an apartment smell good. I know perfume-y home stuff seems extravagant compared to a $5 bottle of Febreze, but yes, I believe in the following products enough to tell you to spend your money on them in a recession. In random order:
1) Slatkin and Co. Apple SCENTBUG Home Fragrance Oil Fan, $15
How cute is this thing? See it above? Well, in real life, it's like a brilliant little apple-shaped robot! A robot that smells like apple slices (it comes with three scented pads that you can replace endlessly, with up to 30 Slatkin scents), takes two AA batteries, and has a tiny fan inside it to distribute the fragrance around the room. I only wish it walked. But then again if it tottered across my desk right now, the cuteness of it all would literally kill me, so I guess it's good it doesn't. 2) The Good Home Co. Beach Days Vacuum Beads, $15
Disclaimer: To use this product, you have to vacuum. The upside is that these beachy-scented fragrance beads make you want to bang on your neighbor's door and borrow her Dyson once a week (or month, or whatever), because you put a handful in the vacuum bag/container, get your clean on and suddenly your house smells like ... Malibu -- in the most synthetically dreamy, appealing way possible. And that one handful lasts like 20 vacuuming sessions (officially 12 to 14 on the website, but my apartment is small).
3) Clean Perfumes Fresh Laundry Clothing and Linen Fragrance, $39
Products from Clean Perfumes will make every beauty article I write because they are genius. They make your skin and hair smell clean, they make your sheets and couch smell clean, they make your life
feel clean. This linen spray costs almost $40 but one can lasts forever
. I know, because my ex-boyfriend was hooked on it hardcore and stopped doing actual laundry in lieu of compulsively spritzing himself and his duvet cover five times a day, and he only went through one can in like eight months. And he always smelled wonderful. Gross, but true!
4) Altru Harmony Incense Sticks, $15
Incense is incense is incense, right? Wrong.
First of all, these incense sticks are more awesome-smelling than any incense you have ever smelled before: spicy-sweet, a little citrusy, and not cloying at all. Second, they were created by Manuela Testolini Nelson, aka Prince's ex-wife
! So, obviously I'm obsessed with them. (I'm shallow, remember?) You get 40 sticks, and each burns for like half an hour. Love. When I recently ran out of this incense I bought the cheap stuff I used to buy from the health store and wound up gagging on it for two minutes before smooshing it out into a candle. Nothing Compares 2 Altru. Yeah, that was a bad Prince joke.
5) Soap and Paper Factory Rolan Pine Aromatic Room Diffuser, $32
You cannot bust a move in my apartment without knocking over a fragrance oil diffuser by the Soap and Paper Factory, and this one, Rolan Pine, is my all-time, if-they-ever-discontinue-it-I'll-cry favorite because I want my entire world to smell like a pine cone! This is sooo...pine-y, and not in that fake manly cologne way. It's authentically fresh-forest-smelling and wonderful. As Rachel Zoe, and increasingly I (to my friends' increasing irritation), would say, "I die
6) Aveda Shampure Soy Wax Candle, $30
Isn't it sort of your dream to have a house that smells like an Aveda store? Mine too. This candle makes that dream a reality
. I'm melodramatic about it because it's that fabulously mind-blowing. OK, but wait -- this smells not only like an Aveda store, but like Aveda shampoo
! That's the concept! I want to marry it. Everyone who walks into your house when this is burning will compliment you. Everyone.
7) The Body Shop Ceramic Crackled Oil Burner, $16
I'm completely addicted to this thing. Mine burns and burns and burns: all you need to do is buy a bag of cheap, tiny tea candles somewhere and pick a fragrance oil
(Vanilla and Lime Blossom! Aloe and Soft Linen! Strawberry!), then pour a little into the top part. Then you light the candle, and voila. The scent fills large spaces like crazy, which I know because I always give them as gifts to people who live in normal houses with comparatively big rooms and they tell me that they're obsessed with their oil burners, too.
8) Laundress Le Labo "Rose 31" Detergent, $39
is one of those really chic, niche perfume brands that they sell at the most glamorous stores, like Colette in Paris and all that. Glamorous. I live for it, obviously. Beyond being madly chic, Le Labo also makes really, really beautiful fragrances that you covet forever. So, when Le Labo teamed up with The Laundress
-- also an awesome brand, though decidedly less worshiped by the trendies -- I was thrilled and hoarded bottles of this crazy-fantastic laundry detergent. It smells like a rose garden in Paris (without the smoking French people you'd imagine there) and lasts and lasts and lasts. Wash your sheets in it and your whole bedroom is lovely-smelling, even a week after you first make your bed.
Cat Marnell was a beauty editor before she became a blogger. She tested roughly 1,600,213 products over the years to arrive at the 8 great-smelling solutions above.