Whats that Smell?

When you walk into a Display Home it’s more than the floor plan layout and the theming that they are relying on to sell you a house.


Your sense of smell can play a key role in the decision-making process without you knowing it.  It’s like Feng Shui for the nose, you may not know the philosophy behind it, realise its happening or notice its impact but somewhere deep inside you, it can hit the spot and make you feel just right.

A home that has a pleasant scent is not only attractive, it can have the ability to trigger memories and emotions, as well as enhance mood.

We have all heard the one about Real Estate agents baking bread in the homes they are trying to sell. Somehow I don’t think that would work for display homes. Think of how much bread they would produce, they would have to become half-bakery half-builder, “Interested in this house? Here take a floor plan and a loaf of bread”.

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Fresh flowers are also a well-used option, but to make the homes always look at their best, good quality silk flowers are displayed and unfortunately, the only scent they carry is of plastic and dust.


Volume builders want to make you feel as at home as possible – without the smell of dirty clothes, wet towels and last nights curry. Once the sawdust and paint fumes have dissipated, they start with a fairly neutral palette and add heated oil fragrances that plug into the power outlets throughout the house. Voila, instantly they have a scent palette that they can match with their house theme, be it coastal Hamptons or fifth avenue chic. Using smells like linen and lavender or the more earthy notes of cedar wood and sagebrush.

“On a neurological level, the sense of smell shares a pathway in the brain that is closely associated with the limbic system, which is responsible for emotions, memories and moods. Smell affects the limbic system before it reaches the part of the brain responsible for noticing and identifying the scent. It’s the only one of our senses that does this.” -Junji Hamano, Ambi Pur.


I know this is true, I once stood in line behind a guy at a cafe and felt my knees buckle and lust surge through me. It wasn’t until I realised that he was wearing the scent of “Envy” by Gucci that my husband used to wear when we first dated. I now understood the rush of emotion and the power of smells.


So how does this all fit into Dave and Charlotte’s House build?


We have spent “a little bit” of time in the Habitat Forsyth, trying to figure out what it is that attracts us to the house – is it structural or theming, can we take that idea into our home and will it work with our lifestyle.

Because we have spent so much time in the house, we have associated the Forsyth’s scent to a warm cosy feeling of hope and happiness.

So we wanted to find out what the scent was and have it in our new home. The only problem was the old plugin was empty but still turned on, all that was left was a glass bottle with an intensely scented dry yellow wick. It was however fitted into an Ambi Pur dispenser, so at least we knew the brand.

We played the game of trying to decipher the code printed on the glass vial and compared it to other empty Ambi Pur bottles from other displays that smelled the same, no luck there and google couldn’t help us either.

We stood in supermarkets and spritzed and sprayed the range on offer till our noses burned, gathering sideways glances from other shoppers, to no avail.

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I took an empty but still highly potent bottle to work and everyone there had a guess. “Apple pie” was one guess, “my mum’s house” was another.

We went to a little shop in Fitzroy that you can create your own scent by mixing different ingredients. The two people behind the counter didn’t know what scent my Ambi Pur could be, they mentioned that products like mine were made up of 20 -100 different ingredients and didn’t know where to start.

There is a huge range of Ambi Pur and the task felt impossible. I had taken to carrying around the little bottle in my purse but the scent was too intense so we kept it in the glove box of the car. I feared the scent may have been from last years range and no longer available. Maybe I could just fill the house will the empty bottles I had accumulated, they still packed quite a punch if you shut them up in a hot car all day.

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At one display, Dave was once again helping himself to the coffee making facilities and we caught a faint whiff of the scent. No, I didn’t have our sample in my handbag, the scent was subtle but coming from somewhere inside the house. I literally followed my nose into the formal lounge and found the plug-in on and doing its thing. The difference being, this bottle was full.

I instantly went hunting for the cleaning cupboard, if the bottle was full, it had to be new and maybe they had other refills. BINGO! One bottle out of a two-pack of refills was missing and I now had the cardboard box displaying its name, Vanilla Harmony.

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So why was it so hard to find?

One of the differences was that the old bottles had aged and the smell had become very powerful. We hadn’t picked it out at the supermarkets because it was too subtle in its un-heated and un-concentrated state.

Also, it smells very different from most Vanilla candles or reed diffusers you buy, this is because of the type of Vanilla they use.

Each type is slightly different:
  • Madagascar Vanilla – rich and creamy.
  • Mexican Vanilla – bold, dark, smokey.
  • Indian Vanilla – full, chocolate.
  • Indonesian Vanilla – mild, well balanced.
  • Tahitian Vanilla – floral, cherry-chocolate.
  • Tonga Vanilla – earthy, fig, raisin.

There are around 110 vanilla orchid species. The most widely known member is the flat-leaved vanilla orchid, native to Mexico and growing commercial for eating.



Now our new home can smell the way we expect it to smell.

A few new refills of Vanilla Harmony have joined the “new home” items in the garage, just incase it goes out of production.


3 thoughts on “Whats that Smell?

Add yours

    1. No idea, they don’t list the ingredient as not food and its their intellectual property so I guess they don’t want people copying. As the Fitzroy shop said, there are 25+ other notes/ingredients added to these types of diffusers. Guess that what makes it Vanilla Harmony not just Vanilla.


  1. We went into a display home on the weekend (not a PD house) that completely put my husband and I off the house and to be honest the builder. It smelt like a combination of old smoke, sweat and old socks. Smell definitely makes a difference!

    Liked by 1 person

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