We put a ridiculous amount of effort into making our homes smell nice.
Remember when all shag-pile carpets needed for a total refresh was a liberal dose of Glade Shake’n’Vac? Then came those peculiar little stashes of potpourri, followed by the ubiquitous scented candle; and finally we’ve graduated to the reed diffuser. They are as much a part of the Christmas haul as socks and woolly hats.
But up in leafy Hamptstead, on “Billionaire’s Row” no less, something new is taking the world of home fragrance into a new sphere of sophistication.
I pull up on The Bishops Avenue, expecting nothing but gated redbrick mansions, but I’m surprised by how green it is. I’m met at the garden gates of a new development of 20 apartments set in 2.5 acres of grounds called Buxmead.
Boutique developer, Harrison Varma, shows me around, describing its commitment to detail and how they seem to know the habits and lifestyles of their international clientele so well that they are crafting the dream residences for buyers yet unknown. I linger over the inlaid wood panelling; I envy the magnificent games room; they even have walls in the ‘colour of 2017’ – a deep teal. However, I’m here to meet their ‘scent concierge’, Alexandra Soveral.
Alexandra is the rising star in the world of cosmetic science and aromatherapy. She was handpicked for the spa at the Mondrian hotel, her beauty products are stocked by Net-a-Porter and she is about to launch a range of skincare products and home scents in collaboration with Daniel Galvin Jr and Highgrove, inspired by HRH’s beloved gardens.
The developer took the pioneering step of hiring her to create a Buxmead Signature Scent. I like it – it’s pithy and woody, but, most of all, it’s subtle and lies lightly on the air. The development is only three stories high, and the penthouses sit up in the treetops in a forest of green.
Alexandra says it was this intensely verdant setting that inspired her unique recipe: “I was struck by its green location, all the trees around, and how much they had thought about nature in the development. With the scent, I wanted to bring the outside in.”
She describes how she created a main scent and then added different notes, for the different social spaces – coriander seeds for the spa, white patchouli and vetiver for the bar, the cinema and so on. “I thought of an element of fresh wood, like a Christmas tree that has just been cut,” she explains.
“This comes from fir balsam and petitgrain, with a little citrus grapefruit.” And there is interplay between high-tech ultra-subtle plug-in diffusers, candles to add warmth, reed diffusers for intensity, and light room sprays.
“The residents might be travelling a lot, so they might close this home for a few months,” Alexandra continues. “When they return we want them to have a feeling of welcome, but it wouldn’t be perfumed. It should be a natural scent, not too overpowering.
"We ask the housekeepers to open the windows and to use the natural room spray, which is also a fabric spray.”
Ditch the diffuser, you need a scent concierge now.
Shop online at alexandrasoveral.co.uk. For preview sales at Buxmead, from £6.5m, contact Anil Varma firstname.lastname@example.org (buxmead.co.uk)