Create a great first impression with a signature home scent! Learn why home scent is imporant, the moods various scents create, and how to choose the right one for your home.

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

When decorating your home, give consideration to the relationship between how your home smells and how your guests feel. Creating a scent for your home creates an important first impression! And a signature home scent is such an easy way to make your guests feel welcome and cozy.

The Importance of a Signature Home Scent

Of all the senses, smell most readily triggers memories and can influence emotional responses, and affects overall feeling.  This effect is so strong and so common, did you know that it actually has a scientific name? It’s called the Proust effect.

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.

trumeau mirror above entry table flanked by french sconces with demijohn and basket underneath the table

Businesses Know the Importance of Scent

Realtors use scent all the time because of how effective a home’s scent can be.

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.


But it’s not just realtors that use this trick. Did you know that hotels also pay big bucks to create signature scents? And even retailers use this trick. I’ll bet you can already imagine the smell of Anthropologie because it’s so distinct.

looking from above white roses with purple stock and green hydrangea with limes in an ironstone bowl beneath

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.

What Does Your Home’s Scent Say About You?

Oftentimes, 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. 

Design Tips

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 pet permeated through the rooms!  That’s when I knew it was time to make a change. 

Maltese mix dogs on a linen bench

So I gathered up lots of ideas for you on how to choose your own signature home scent, including ideas for different rooms and what effects various smells have on setting the mood and creating an emotional connection.

How to Choose a Signature Home Scent

The biggest factor in choosing a signature home fragrance is to think about the mood you want to set. Then, think about your decorating style and what scent matches both your mood and your style!

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. Create a signature scent story!

And you don’t have to choose just one! You can choose different scents for different rooms and change your signature scent throughout the season.

Set the Mood with Scent

Smell is such a large contributor to our overall mood, it’s important to think about your home’s signature scent!

75% of all emotions generated every day are due to smell.

via Mood Media

Here are some scent suggestions based on the principles of aromatherapy and the moods they create. You’ll see that scents can overlap, which is great if you use them in multiple rooms.

Relaxing Scents

  • Lavender
  • Jasmine
  • Vanilla
  • Peppermint
  • Chamomile

Energizing Scents

  • Orange
  • Lemon
  • Peppermint
  • Rosemary
  • Eucalyptus
  • Bergamot
  • Coffee
  • Lime
  • Grapefruit

Warm Scents

  • Cinnamon
  • Apple
  • Sandalwood
  • Pine
  • Pumpkin
  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate

Clean Scents

  • All Citrus
  • Linen
  • Gardenia
  • Eucalpytus
  • Most floral fragrances

Different Rooms Can Have Different Scents

It’s okay to have different scents in different rooms. The one caveat to this is that in open floorplan homes, make sure all of the scents are complementary and don’t permeate room to room. But in general, you can create different feelings for different rooms.

  • Foyer – Choose something inviting that draws people in and makes them feel at ease.
  • Kitchen, Laundry Room & Bathroom – Choose something fresh, like citrus, that signifies the space is clean.
  • Bedrooms – Choose something soothing and relaxing to aid with sleep and comfort.
  • Living Room – Go with something fresh or something warm, like cinnamon.

Change with the Seasons

You can change your signature scent with the season. For the holidays, create a warm ambience with cedar, balsam, or pine. In the Spring, try a more fresh and light scent like jasmine or rose. You can use orange in your kitchen in the summer and cinnamon in the winter!

You can also change your seasonal scent in accordance with the area where you live, like the mountains, the grasslands, or maybe the beach.

bowl of green apples next to bowl of nuts and white pitcher of white hydrangeas on kitchen table with fall flowers in background

Keep Your Home Clean

Don’t underestimate the smell given off by trash and leftover food. Always be sure to clean up the dishes, take out the garbage, and generally keep your house clean. Even dust has a scent because it can make the house smell stale. So every once in a while, make sure to open some windows and let the fresh air in!

A Little Goes a Long Way

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.

My Favorite Spring signature home Scents

Since it’s Spring now, I thought I’d share my three favorite scents with you: Fresh Water, Fresh Linen, and Lavender.

I love Air Wick’s Scented Oil plugins in both Fresh Water and Fresh Linen. Both have a light, clean smell, like I just did laundry or cleaned thoroughly.

Fresh Water Scented Oil

I also love, love, love Yankee Candle’s Lavender candle. They make a few types of lavender-scented candles, but my favorite is simply called “Lavender”.

Signature Home Scent – Final Thoughts

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. 

But, 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 story?  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. User Avatar 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. User Avatar 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. User Avatar 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. User Avatar 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. User Avatar 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. User Avatar 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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