How to make your rooms smell good – 10 scent-sational ideas

Give every space a gorgeous fragrance hit and discover how to make your rooms smell good

We're so concerned about perfecting the look of our space that sometimes we don't give much thought to how it actually smells. But learning how to make your rooms smell good will make as much of an impacts as your skills with a paintbrush.

Fragrance has the power to instantly lift a mood or kill it in a flash. And once you think of scent as a must-have accessory for your home, you'll be hooked trying out different combinations.

Scent is always well considered as a living room idea – either through candles or flowers. But it's really worth thinking about for all rooms, as our experts explain.

How to make your rooms smell good

Emma Loane, hotel business manager scent specialists ARRAN, has spent years working with hoteliers such as Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh, Cameron House, Cromlix and G&V Royal Mile Hotel, and knows exactly how to make your rooms smell good through creating a luxury ‘home-tel’ experience.

'Scent is a huge part of staying in a hotel,' says Emma. 'It not only makes it feel fresh, clean and inviting, but also when applying concepts of aromatherapy, has a huge impact on mood.'

1. Use different scents to set different moods

scents on table

(Image credit: Future PLC/ ARRAN)

'Fancy hotels will often diffuse different aromas around the lobby, bathrooms and communal areas, as well as in the rooms themselves,' says Emma. 'In the trade, this is known as "scent scaping". Not just filling the space with the same fragrance, but crafting an experience or "journey" through scent placement as you make your way through the building.'

Emma believe that it's simple to apply this technique at home, but she warns against having fragrances in adjacent rooms that could clash. So try not to put two powerful combinations together.

2. Or introduce one signature scent through your home

candles and diffuser on table with blue sofa

(Image credit: Future PLC/ ARRAN)

'Many luxury hotels use a signature fragrance to perfume their rooms,' says Swyft’s head of creative, Kelly Colling. 'Using the same technique in your home will help make it feel like a hotel, and ensure you’re met with a delicious scent every time you walk through your front door.'

'We are often brought on board to create bespoke scents for our high-end hotel clients,' Emma continues, 'because the sense of smell can be extremely powerful for triggering memories. This is due to the region of the brain responsible for memory and smell being very much intertwined.'

'These "fragrant flashbacks" often serve to remind guests of the luxury and enjoyment they experienced during their stay. When used in this way, scent becomes a kind of "olfactory branding".'

'Introducing a signature smell into your home will have the same effect and your house guests will always associate whichever scent you choose with you and your home. Most home fragrance ranges are available in room sprays, diffusers and candles. And some extend to shower gels and hand wash, which makes it even easier to decant your signature scent around your house.'

3. Open the doors and windows

kitchen with white walls and green chairs

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Robert Sanderson)

Sure, it's obvious, but how many of us do it on a daily basis? Stale air is a health and mood zapper and by opening your windows and doors for just a few minutes, especially on a flower-filled garden, you'll get an instant – and totally free – air refresh. When it comes to how to make your rooms smell good, this is surely the cheapest and easiest option.

4. Introduce fragrant herbs

fragrant herbs

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Fresh herbs such as basil and mint give off a lovely aroma in the kitchen. Place them on a table or windowsill and ensure there's good airflow to waft , or you could try planting a mini herb garden idea – a box overflowing with marjoram, lemon balm and rosemary – right by your back door. That way you'll get an olfactory hit the moment you step outside.

Also, guests will know they're in for culinary a treat if you do the same on your front porch.

5. Treat your home to flowers... or even a bouquet subscription

bouquet from freddies flowers

(Image credit: Freddie's Flowers)

From planting jasmine and lavender down the garden path to pansies by the front door, flowers never fail to raise the spirits. Inside, think artfully arranged bunches of roses, magnolia and lily of the valley, which not only look gorgeous, but smell divine.

Don't undo all your hard work by forgetting to change the water daily, though - rotten flower water not only smells awful, but is a health hazard, too.

If you love how flowers make your home look and smell, it's worth treating yourself to one of our favourite best flower subscriptions for a regular delivery of scented blooms.

6. Chop up a few lemons and limes

lemons and juice maker

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Tim Young)

For a quick and easy fresh smell, you can't beat citrus. Slice a few lemons, limes and oranges and leave them out on the chopping board whenever you feel your space needs a zesty hit. It's one of many lemon cleaning hacks that are toxin free and total genius.

7. Consider a pillow spray for bed linen

bedroom with white walls and furry rug

(Image credit: TBC)

'One of the best things about staying in a hotel is the big, comfy bed and crisp, newly washed linens,' says Emma. 'Hotels nearly always use white bed linen. It’s easier to keep it clean and fresh, it won’t date and can be updated seasonally with cushions and throws. Opt for cotton percale if your budget stretches to it. As a rule of thumb the higher the thread count the more lavish (and expensive) it will feel.'

Using a pillow spray on top of a white bedroom idea will make your bed feel even more like a gorgeous boutique hotel. Notes of lavender and spearmint that will not only transport you to a haven of rest and calm, they reduce tension and encourage relaxation. So if you're wondering how to sleep better, a pillow spray might be the answer.

8. Buy quality scented candles

table with flower vase and scented candle

(Image credit: Future PLC)

The quality of your candle is probably more important than its smell. Organic beeswax scented candles are a fixture in modern-day living rooms, but don't let that be the exception.

Lighting a potent high-end fragrance in a hallway immediately ups the welcoming factor. An added bonus is that it masks the smell of cheesy shoes. Just make sure you don't leave it unattended.

A few candles dotted around a bathroom will give even the plainest spaces a bit of sparkle. Choose soothing scents like lavender and rose to help you relax in the tub.

If you have guests over, opt for fresh citrus scents, which have universal appeal.

9. Splash out on essential oils

lavender flower with honeybee on it

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Alun Callender)

You don't need an oil burner to benefit from essential oils. Simply add a few drops of relaxing lavender to a bowl of hot water for the ultimate chill-out atmosphere. Ditto warming vanilla or mandarin. These are the kind of smells that say home sweet home.

Oils are also a great mood booster if you're working from home. 'I love Rosemary to increase energy, focus and clear the mind,' says Tipper Lewis, brand ambassador at Neal's Yard. 'Grapefruit with orange or lemon gives that zesty spring which is perfect for the morning and encourages positivity.'

10. Cook up a solution

cinnamon bundle

(Image credit: Future PLC/ James Merrell)

Boil up a pot of cinnamon sticks, cloves and orange or lemon zest on the stove for a subtly warming scent. And if you need to get rid of a particularly challenging cooking smell – say a potent curry or a fish stew – put a bowl of white vinegar on the kitchen worktop and those unwanted odours will soon vanish.

11. Bake some bread

bread making ingredients

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Polly Eltes)

Wondering how to make your rooms smell good? Take a tip from estate agents. An oldie but a goodie, the smell of baking bread is universally loved. It's a cliche that people will have a loaf in the oven when they are having house viewings, but it works!

Even the aroma of yeast proving gets us every time. That's why our Saturday morning baking will always be a ritual. No time? Cheat and use one of our favourite best bread makers. Or brew some coffee - another favourite trick of house sellers.

What fragrance is best for what room?

  • In the hallway, go fresh and light

'In homes, you don’t want to be overwhelmed as soon as you step through the door,' says Emma Loane. 'So I would choose something like our After the Rain reed diffuser, £33, ARRAN, in the hallway, which is a really fresh and welcoming scent in lime, rose and sandalwood.'

  • In the living room, uplift with florals or go musky

'Then you need to think of which notes will complement one another as you move from room to room. So, into the living room I would opt for the uplifting floral notes of bergamot and geranium,' says Emma. We also like woody and tobacco fragrances for a living room, which feel rich and masculine.

  • In a kitchen, mask cooking smells

'The invigorating zest of grapefruit in the kitchen to help dispel any cooking aromas,' Emma advises. We'd also choose herb-based scents such as peppermint or sage here.

  • Pick relaxing aromas for a bathroom or bedroom

'The bathroom and bedroom are relaxation spaces, so something like Wild Gorse candle, £33, ARRAN would work brilliantly here,' says Emma.

Amy Cutmore

Amy Cutmore is an experienced interiors editor and writer, who has worked on titles including Ideal Home, Homes & Gardens, LivingEtc, Real Homes, GardeningEtc, Top Ten Reviews and Country Life. And she's a winner of the PPA's Digital Content Leader of the Year. A homes journalist for two decades, she has a strong background in technology and appliances, and has a small portfolio of rental properties, so can offer advice to renters and rentees, alike.