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Musing about... Room scents?

Musing about... Room scents?



Is it a marker of age, slowly but surely creeping up? Or of a latent desire to appear more appreciative of the finer things in life than I’m naturally inclined to do?

Either way, it started about two months ago when I stumbled upon an old room spray that I used to give a few puffs through my revolving door of dorm rooms through uni. 

I’m not going to reveal my age but my uni days were... let's just say, more than a few years back - and also more than enough time for you to seriously start questioning if a product has expired. But before doing the sensible thing of embarking on a quick Google search, I found myself giving the nozzle a few squeezes and… as it turned out, it smelled the same as before.


This bottle has certainly seen better days...

Nice! Thus ensued a once-every-two-days spray right before bed. The scent for this pink bottle is Red Berry and Fir, to be clear - with very sweet, almost cloying notes that are fruity at the same time. Perfect for alleviating anxiety (deadlines and existential questioning alike simply move from a schooling environment into a working-world one, eh?), and activating some drowsiness. 

(Aside: My internet sleuthing later on brought me to the conclusion that room sprays don’t technically.. expire? They generally only diminish in potency, although it’s still possible that some concoctions can go bad. The best way to tell, again, is with how the smell goes.) 

This past week, I rediscovered a door gift we had received when attending the reopening of the Mercedes-Benz Centre at Alexandra (which coincided with the launch of the current-generation E-Class): An AMG-branded scent!


Described as a “classy tea-like scent in a harmonious blend of freshly brewed white tea, delicate white florals and a hint of citrus notes”. Yum. 

For now, I’ve defected over to this side (unless you work for a rival German brand, who doesn’t want their room to smell like a Mercedes-Benz showroom?). But having two scents to play around with is great for whenever I want to switch things up. I suspect I will spend the remaining half of the year assembling an even larger collection... 

Room improvement program?

It’s no secret that there is more than meets the nose when it comes to scents. 

The impact of smells on our psychology is one well-documented and researched part of the equation. 

The other half, of course, comes down to the idea of image-building (self-image too). I’d venture that a scented apartment feels immediately more expensive than a non-scented one, while adults who wear perfume just have… a different sort of aura (whether or not it’s always a good aura is another topic altogether). This portion arguably has a (dollars and) cents aspect too: The perfume industry was valued at USD 50.8 billion (!!) in 2022 alone. 

04.thumb.jpg.d33f2c312caca5e30aff870bb19085f7.jpgIn this case, I’d say my recent intrigue with scents is a mixture of both. 

I’m super thankful that since my mid-20s, I’ve had a room to call mine and mine alone - but as a generally fickle-minded person who shared a space with my brother/sister for more than half my life, I’ve also found that I still have little clue as to how I consciously define a welcoming and cosy space. 

While a ‘room improvement program’ - based on the bare canvas that I inherited - has technically been in the works ever since my sister got married and moved out, all I see now is essentially extra clutter over that two-year period. And unfortunately, until that clutter disappears (I'm working on it...), this will also never truly be a calming space.


To that end, there is a large part of me that believes that infusing the room with a distinct, ‘upmarket’ smell may forcefully induce a sense of familiarity and ease whenever I step back in after a long day out. But the other big part is just the impression that I have that it will help zhng it. 

Another slight aside: I started writing this mid-week, got sidetracked by other work/events, and in the interim, my TikTok algorithm started feeding me a ton of ‘room transformation’/ideal room/ideal apartment videos. Here's one that I enjoyed: 


I know it's very idealised and that most rooms that appear on social media are rarely kept in a pristine state, but here's another... (I'd say even the pre-cleaned-up iteration was quite nice already.)

At this point, I must also quickly note: I'm fully aware that the idea of having a picture-perfect, Pinterest-ready room in your mid-20s feels can feel very rich in Singapore. Having one’s own room already - much less one that is so beautifully curated - is likely still a massive privilege to the average Singaporean at this age. 

Still learning

When thinking about my “room improvement program”, the platitude that kept popping into my head was ‘The grass is greener where you water it’. If I had to distil the recent scent-obsession down to one goal, I guess I’m trying to make the metaphorical pasture that is my room as green as it can be. 

Anyway, does anyone have any tips or special things they do for their own rooms to make it a welcoming space to return and retreat to? Hit me with anything - I’m keen to learn! 

- Matt  

Additional photos from Unsplash (Jeroen den Otter, volant)


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