There’s always something in the air at Nicola Elliott’s detached home in Harrogate and it often smells like happiness. For the uninitiated that’s a blend of white neroli, mimosa and lemon devised by Nicola to bring a smile to the face. In the evening, tranquillity, a mix of lavender, sweet basil and jasmine is a favourite.
“At home, I have a winding down time starting at about 8.30pm. The phones and devices are turned off, I’ll lock myself in the shower for a while then sit down and light a candle and relax,” says Nicola, who shares her home with her husband Dave and their two children, Charlie, eight, and Alexa, six.
Learning how to relax helped her give birth to her wellbeing brand Neom. Working in the hectic world of magazine journalism in London, Nicola and her colleagues were clocking up 60-hour weeks and a host of stress-related issues.
She booked a place on an aromatherapy course at night school and began mixing her own therapeutic blends and turning them into bath, body and home fragrance products.
“I started suffering from anxiety and I knew I had to change my lifestyle. I loved the aromatherapy essential oils because it felt like they were adding to my life rather than taking something away. That’s the point of Neom. It’s therapeutic but it feels like a treat.”
Her Feel Refreshed fragrance was inspired by Dave. “At the weekend he’d play football then be too tired to go out in the afternoon, so I made him a lemon, basil and rosemary blend. My tranquillity fragrance includes 19 oils and was initially for my sister who couldn’t sleep,” says Nicola.
Neom quickly became a sideline operating from her London flat until rocketing demand forced her to commit to it full time.
“Two things happened. Selfridges decided to stock them and we sent Kylie Minogue an energy-boosting fragrance and a candle when she was recovering from breast cancer. She then ordered a couple of crates so she could burn them before she went on stage,” says Nicola, who now has stores in London and in Leeds’s new Victoria Gate centre, along with her online shop.
They have a devoted following boosted by Nicola’s regular online blogs and free e-books on everything from how to sleep better to a 28-day happiness programme and how to have a stress-free Christmas.
“You have to take a 360-degree approach. It’s food, exercise and attitude. Our oils are another part of it,” says Nicola, who calms her emerging panic attacks with the 7/11 breathing technique – breathing in and holding your breath for the count of seven and breathing out on the count of 11 – and her Intensive Stress Relief Treatment mist, made with 24 essential oils.
Moving back to her home town of Harrogate seven years ago played a big part in improving her own wellbeing. Her parents help out with the children and the Neom HQ is now just a 10-minute walk from her house.
She admits that the 1990s property isn’t her ideal home as she dreams of living in a Georgian house in the country. “We rented it initially and then we bought it because it ticked a lot of boxes. It was pretty soulless but I knew I could change it to suit our lifestyle,” she says.
What was a long, narrow kitchen and conservatory have been combined and extended to make a huge open-plan living kitchen leading into the garden. Upstairs, two small bedrooms were knocked into one for Charlie.
Nicola describes the decor as “punchy with lots of colour”, which is her way of adding character to a property with no period features.
The kitchen is from Watsons of Harrogate and there are Nicola’s creative touches everywhere. Decorative tiles make lively splashbacks and the statement light over the dining table is an old log she found in her dad’s garage. She got an electrician to add some £20 lights to it that she found online. She also had lighting installed in the garden.
The separate sitting room is painted in Farrow & Ball’s Hague blue and Nicola had sofas recovered to match.
Her plan is that almost everything will look perfect in her next property. “We don’t see ourselves staying here forever so everything has to look right in the Georgian house I plan on moving to one day.”
*Nicola’s Christmas wellbeing guide
I’m crazily busy right now. Who isn’t? Plus, annoyingly organised friends have started ordering their party food for Christmas Eve delivery. Whaaaat!? So. I have crafted some rules that champion doing less but with more impact this Christmas...
Do one thing well. Each year I perfect one brilliant cocktail. This year’s is called a “Snowflake” – 1oz gin, ½oz lemon juice, dash of sugar and fresh egg white decorated with edible glitter. It will wow everyone for sure but, most importantly, it will make them forgive me for my lack of effort elsewhere.
Host Christmas dinner but farm out the cooking. I ask my parents to bring a (cooked) turkey, my sister to provide some (good quality) wines, my in-laws to bring (hard to make) sauces and friends to bring the cheese (from a distant shop), which leaves me with a couple of veg and all the credit.
Impromptu night away for New Year’s Eve. If you’re not fussy about the location, trips are half the price on lastminute.com by December 30 and you have none of the hassle of babysitters, outfits, taxis home etc.
Book actual nights in with yourself in your diary. Call me a miser but I can do about three Christmas parties max. Nothing beats slippers, box sets, long baths, early nights and great books.