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BY LISA A. FLAM
For The Associated Press
When the lazy days of summer give way to hectic fall schedules, there is nothing like dashing in from the cold and being enveloped by a home filled with delicious smells.
These days, there are endless ways to add a special scent to your home. Home fragrance products have exploded into a $5 billion industry, with candles, diffusers, room sprays and oils offered everyplace from drug stores to high-end retailers. There are many use-what-you-have, do-it-yourself options as well.
The idea is to create an inviting, comforting and calming environment, whether you're having 20 people for a sit-down dinner or simply hanging out on the couch for the evening.
"This is a time when people are spending more time at home, and they want that cozy, holiday, warm feeling, and maybe you want that even when you're not entertaining--you want it on a Tuesday night when you're watching TV," said Jessica Romm, lifestyles editor at Martha Stewart Living.
"Fragrance is a really nice way to do that."
Once composed mostly of candles and potpourri, the home fragrance market took off in the mid- to late-1990s, and retail sales in the United States hit a high of $5.3 billion in 2011, according to Karen Doskow, industry manager for consumer products at Kline and Co., a market research company in Parsippany, N.J. Sales last year were up 4 percent over 2010, she said.
Today's offerings include candles, room sprays, reed and plug-in diffusers, wax melts, essential oils, and old standards like drawer liners and sachets. Many products now offer a more sophisticated scent and they're more decorative as well, Doskow said.
Just as there are scores of scents to choose from (Yankee Candle has about 200 candle fragrances), the prices vary greatly. "It can range from a Renuzit adjustable [air freshener] for 99 cents up to a Jo Malone scented candle that's in excess of $100," Doskow said.
In fact, Jo Malone's luxury candle offers 230 hours of burn time and sells for $425, while a large Yankee Candle that offers up to 150 hours of scent costs $27.99. Crabtree & Evelyn has scented sprays for $19, while French perfumer Frederic Malle's "perfume gun" spray sells for $145.