Design Tips

Creating Your Home-Scent-Home

Design Tips

So many of us spend time decorating our homes so that they are visually pleasing to our families and our guests, but how often do we take into consideration how our home smells?  Of all the senses, smell most readily triggers memories and can influence emotional responses and affects overall feeling.  You can have the most beautifully decorated foyer, but if the house doesn’t smell good upon entry, I guarantee the smell will be the first thing guests notice, not your gorgeous decor.

{via Bungalow Classic}
{via Bungalow Classic}


Think about a time when you might have gone to an open house.  Have you ever noticed that realtors often light candles or bake cookies?  They do this for a reason!  They are trying to create a cozy, homey environment to make visitors feel welcome and able to envision themselves living in that space.


If you bake a lot, your home might already smell like yummy childhood memories, but otherwise, in general, no one likes to walk into a space and be hit with the scent of last night’s dinner.  So take a tip from the professionals and give consideration to the relationship between how your home smells and how your guests feel.


So what does your home’s scent say about you?


Often times, we spend so much time in our own homes that we can’t distinguish any particular smells.  Unless you ask a guest {which unless it’s a close friend or relative, that would just be awkward!} or are away from home for an extended period of time, you won’t really know what your own home smells like.  If you’re lucky, your home has no particular smell, so anyone entering will be indifferent to the scent.  But for those who have kids, pets, older homes, live in damp areas, etc., chances are that your house has some sort of scent associated with it.  And I just learned this lesson the hard way!

I have a lot of pets and it wasn’t until we went away on our recent vacation and I came home that I realized just how much the scent of bird permeated through the rooms!  That’s when I knew it was time to make a change.  {Not to worry, I didn’t abandon Sparky and Lola….they’re too cute!}



If you wear scented lotions or perfumes, you probably spent a lot of time selecting a fragrance that was “you.”  Just as you take time to think about what scent is a good fit for you, also think about what scent is a good fit for your home.  For example, lavender is associated with relaxation and harmony.


Vanilla is another popular option known for relaxation.  Citrus scents, like lemon and orange, are associated with a light, fresh feeling, whereas fruity smells conjure up memories of destination vacations.  Perhaps you want your home to smell in accordance with the area where you live, like the mountains, the grasslands, or maybe the beach.

No matter what you choose, it’s important that the scent reflect your personality and also your lifestyle, so carefully consider what’s right for you and your home home.  And you can use more than one scent so long as they are complementary and don’t permeate room to room.  You might want something relaxing like lavender in your main rooms, and perhaps vanilla in the kitchen.  Go for it!

I personally like my home to smell fresh – like I just did laundry or cleaned thoroughly.  Since chances are that I didn’t actually do either of those things {let’s be honest, I’d rather decorate than clean!}, I rely on Air Wick Fresh Water Scented Oil to help me out.  I used to burn candles, but with kids who play ball in the house and a curious cat who jumps on the furniture, I almost never light them in the main areas of the house anymore.  I also tried reed diffusers, but I didn’t feel like the scent covered enough area in the house.  I also really like Febreeze for eliminating orders from sports equipment or the kids favorite spot on the couch.

Fresh Water Scented Oil


A word of caution – just as with perfume, a little goes a long way, so don’t go overboard!  You want your home to have a nice background scent, not a hit-you-in-the-face smell that lingers on your guests’ clothes even after they’ve left.

Also, while the scent of your home is important, don’t stress about it.  Life happens.  If you have fish for dinner, your home will smell like fish.  If you burn the eggs in the morning or the wet dog runs through the house, well…it is what it is.  But if you can give just a bit of thought as to how you want your home to smell and make a minor change in order to achieve that mood or feeling, then why not give your home’s scent the same amount of attention that you give its decor?  After all, you only get one chance to make a first impression!

What is your favorite scent for your home?  Please share!
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  1. I love scented candles but usually burn only one at a time because, like you, I buy them when I can find a good price on them. I was once given a Jo Malone candle, lovely scent, but it’s just a candle and it’s difficult for me to talk myself into to spending $60 on a candle. I may try the recipe for the gently simmering water with added scent producers.
    Great post, Kim.

  2. When we were selling our home a couple years ago, I was looking for a clean but warm scent that wasn’t overpowering. I found the Williams Sonoma recipe on Pinterest and would simmer a water with few drops of vanilla, halved lemons, and a couple sprigs of fresh rosemary on my stovetop before showings and open houses. It was fabulous and the best part is, you could simmer it on low all day long if you pleased–all you need to do is continuously add water when it gets low (and a few drops of vanilla). I still use this recipe in our new home because I love it so much. Williams Sonoma kitchen lemon soy candle is also great.

    Another great trick I used when my house was on the market was to use Tide washing machine cleaner. You just dump a packet of this powder into your washer (make sure it’s empty!) and run a quick cycle on hot water. It makes the whole house smell wonderful AND rids your washer of any mildewy stench. I use it regularly to prevent the mildew stench.

    I don’t use plug ins but I am going to try out the ones you reccommended!

    1. Tidbits&Twine says:

      Jenna – I’ve seen a similar recipe on Pinterest and pinned it but haven’t yet tried it. Thanks for letting me know that it really does work! I’ll have to give it a try! And I loathe the washing machine smell and I’ve tried other cleaning techniques with no success, so I’m definitely going to give your suggestion a try. Thanks so much!

  3. The scent of our home changes with the seasons. I love candles but often do not light them out of fear of forgetting to blow them out. It has happened. I like to use warming tarts.

    1. Tidbits&Twine says:

      I’ve done that as well…yikes! I’ll look into warming tarts. :)

  4. I am in deep love (for the moment) with Bath & Body Works Black Sands candles and plug ins – smells “expensive” like a top end salon, but not overpowering.

    1. Tidbits&Twine says:

      Thanks, Robbyn! I’ll check that out next time I’m there!

  5. I am in love with a carnation-scented candle I got from Anthropologie. It has the right amount of welcoming scent without being too over powering (Royal Apothic, Noble Carnation). It doesn’t smell too girlie or flowery, but rather kinda spicy and warm.

    When I need to neutralize/clear the air, I use my plug in diffuser from Aura Casia, and I put in drops of eucalyptus, clove, cinnamon, lemon and rosemary.

    Do you have any recommendations for a yummy vanilla candle?


    1. Tidbits&Twine says:

      Michelle – I’ve never smelled the carnation scented candle but I love the candles from Anthropologie so I’ll have to check it out! Thanks for sharing! I don’t actually have a favorite brand of vanilla that I love… I’m pretty particular about vanilla-scented candles, though, because so many of them smell like cake batter. And while I love the smell of cake, it isn’t the type of vanilla scent that I like in my home – I prefer something that smells of vanilla without smelling sugary. That being said, I tend to pick up inexpensive vanilla candles at HomeGoods whenever I come across one that I like, so I’m not consistent with a brand.

  6. Great post.
    We have a chocolate lab . Our first dog…. I was not a dog luver before Vic and despised the way most dog owners homes smelled. Like wet dog covered in heavy perfume. DID NOT want that.
    Vic is groomed on a regular basis and has a pup deodorant that works wonders… no pup smell. But I use a soy based cucumber melon tart in the summer, and apple cinnamon in the cooler months.
    The beds in the home get a spritz of lavender/vanilla when they are changed weekly.
    Hugs, Gee

    1. Tidbits&Twine says:

      I have never heard of doggy deodorant before! Good to know! Great idea to change up the scents for the seasons. What lavender/vanilla do you use for the bedding? Please share! :)

  7. Great Tips Kim. I love to walk into my home and smell lavender and vanilla scents. They just smell fresh and feel welcoming and vanilla is a good mask for pet ordor or last night’s dinner. I have tried the airwick and they work pretty good.

    1. Tidbits&Twine says:

      Sounds wonderful, Kris! Those are two of my personal favorites as well. I love the smell of lavender in my room….I like to think it helps me sleep better. :)

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