How to Match Exotic Décor and Exotic Scents

Your house looks like it should have this view, but does it smell like it, too? See more beach pictures.
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Our sense of smell is closely linked to our memory, which would explain why distant childhood memories can come snapping back in an instant with the smell of a particular cookie baking or a whiff of Elmer's Glue. For this reason, aromatic design is becoming an important inclusion with interior design. Not only do scents cover up less pleasant scents, like lingering food smells or pet odors, but they also serve a much bigger purpose: to help set or enhance a mood.

We're not talking about a spritz of air freshener here. If you're going for exotic, we recommend investing in high-quality fragrances. The scent needs to mingle, as if it's a genuine part of the landscape. In fact, scent is becoming such an important part of the décor experience, that hotels and casinos often pipe it through their HVAC systems. Eventually, homeowners will have that option, but in the meantime, there are a number of other ways to delight your olfactory senses.

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Candles are the obvious choice, if candlelight sets the right mood for the décor. You can also choose reed diffusers if you want to go the flame-free route. Good quality reed diffusers usually come in attractive packaging and offer a higher-end look. Oil burners are another great way to diffuse a scent through a room. And then, of course, potpourri serves up scent along with a pretty visual.

Whether your idea of exotic is a village in Africa or a seaside retreat in South Carolina, here are some tips on combining decor and scent in your home.

 

Creating an Exotic Theme with Décor and Scents

You probably don't want your room to smell like a hookah, but there are other very pleasing Moroccan scents to choose from.
You probably don't want your room to smell like a hookah, but there are other very pleasing Moroccan scents to choose from.
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Mention Morocco, and immediately an exciting and exotic destination is conjured up. Nestled between Europe and Africa, Morocco draws its unique decorating influences from both continents. Whether you want to go Bogey and Bergman style in coastal Casablanca or your influence is from the markets of Marrakesh, you can count on vibrant colors being part of your decorating scheme. Blues and greens are influenced by the surrounding Atlantic and Caribbean Oceans, and fiery reds and oranges are reminiscent of African sunsets.

Thick, layered rugs sprawl over mosaic tile floors, and large pieces of ornately carved wood furniture adorn each room. Piles of colorful throw pillows and cushions can be found in each room, and fabrics are layered and draped over surfaces to create intimate lounging areas. An abundance of banana trees and papyrus line the walls in large baskets, adding some tropical ambience. And lighting is uniformly dim to add an air of mystery and excitement.

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Scents match the décor in intensity. Rich spices like cinnamon and nutmeg, sandalwood and saffron are perfect for any Moroccan scene. Groups of colorful pillar candles are the perfect way to scent your space, because the colors fit with the décor and candlelight only adds to the rich and mysterious ambience.

Into the Jungle

Bring in the sounds of the tropics, too, with a small water feature.
Bring in the sounds of the tropics, too, with a small water feature.
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When you call up the tropics, what comes to mind almost immediately? Relaxation? Fruity drinks? Humid air? We picture lush greenery and lots of water, either waterfalls or the ocean -- we're not too picky. Whether it's the jungles of the rainforest you fancy or the breeze of the sea, you can bring home that tropical feel. And we're not talking pink pelicans or palm tree pillows.

Light and airy is the name of the game, and we want to bring the outside in. Light colored walls in creams or pastels; furniture made with materials like rattan, bamboo and seagrass; tile floors with woven straw rugs; and graphic floral fabrics in bright colors for the throw pillows and lampshades.

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No tropical paradise would be complete without water, so be sure to include a water feature. A water wall would be ideal, but even a small bubbler will add to the ambiance you're looking for. And then, of course, a verdant display of greenery: palms, birds of paradise, anthuriums and bromeliads are all great tropical plant options for indoors.

The scents of the tropics are equally as memorable as the sights. Tropical fruits, heady florals, like jasmine and gardenia, and coconut are all wonderful exotic scent options, and reed diffusers would be an ideal addition to the decor. You can also offer some aural integration by popping in a CD with bird or jungle sounds.

Out of Africa

The smells of the ocean just won't do for this room.
The smells of the ocean just won't do for this room.
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And last but not least, nothing conjures up wild, romantic and exotic backdrop like a safari. Picture "Out of Africa:" Meryl Streep and Robert Redford chilling on her porch under the vast African sky in their khakis and linen shirts. And then take that look and bring it into your home.

Safari scenes conjure up images of vast desert and exotic wildlife, so color schemes live in the neutrals -- earth tones like khaki, gold and the browns and greens that decorate the African plains. That's not to say that your rooms shouldn't have pops of color. Just keep it to the accessories, like throw pillows and accent rugs.

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Hardwood floors are a must as well as heavy furniture made of natural woods. Imagine a sturdy four-poster bed with white sheers billowing in the desert breeze,- even if it's just your ceiling fan. Throw in some animal prints -- faux of course -- to bring in more jungle elements. Traditional African elements can be used to accessorize, too. Bongo drums, pottery and beautiful wall art all will support the safari experience.

And of course, no safari would be complete without the scents of Africa. Earthy and masculine scents will likely rule this roost. Think musk and cedarwood, shea butter and nag champa. Incense would be a good choice for your décor, or use an oil burner if you want to skip the smoke.

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Sources

  • "Decorating with a Safari Theme." Interiordesign.lovetoknow.com, 2010. http://interiordesign.lovetoknow.com/Decorating_with_a_Safari_Theme
  • Hanby-Robie, Sharon. "Decorating without fear: a step-by-step guide to creating the home you love." Thomas Nelson, Inc, pp. 97.
  • "Moroccan Decorating." Themed-homedecor.com, 2010. http://www.themed-homedecor.com/Moroccan-Decorating.html