The importance of scent cannot be overstated. More than just a pleasant aroma, scent “has the remarkable ability to evoke vivid memories and elicit strong emotional responses, instantly setting the mood,” says Janine Just Hornig, head of design at Roxy Rentals. Scent forms one of guests' first impressions upon entering our homes, so we want to ensure that it’s a positive one.
Many of us have a signature home scent, a personal go-to aroma that aligns with our personality and daily preferences. Though, finding one is easier said than done in today’s highly saturated marketplace of candles, oil diffuser, and room sprays. To aid you on your quest for the perfect signature scent, or at the very least, a new favorite home fragrance, I consulted experts with the best smelling homes that I know of, asking each which scents defined their year. Selected from the best home decor stores, these home scents aren't necessarily the most popular, but they certainly are the best.
Le Labo's Cade 26 candle reminds Studio RM's Ryan Matthew of the iconic Gramercy Park Hotel in NYC (and his mom). A smokier iteration of Le Labo's infamous Santal 26, this candle encapsulates all the grit and glamour of the city.
"I love Rituals Precious Amber Collection," reveals Livingetc.com Content Editor Oonagh Turner. She describes it as "warming and cozy, perfect for winter." It features "opulent ylang ylang and patchouli, so it's sweet but not too sugary sweet either." The collection is almost entirely sold out, with the exception of this mini reed diffuser — ideal for sampling the scent for the first time.
Pip Rich, Livingetc’s Global Editor in Chief, is a “huge fan of Jonathan Adler's Pop Tomato candle — it smells like summer, cut lawns, long afternoons, and even longer drinks. It's zingy and always makes me feel energized in the most uplifting way possible.”
"I tend to hide diffusers behind plants or objects," says Livingetc editor Pip Rich. "I love how they smell just don't think they're always the most beautiful. That said, I really, really adore The White Company's Fresh Grapefruit diffuser. It gives me an extra boost of energy."
Post-pandemic, Floss Kelly, the creative mind behind TileCloud, seeks scents that “create a sense of comfort and reassurance.” This room spray contains aromas of lavender, peppermint, and spearmint, which in tandem “creates a tranquil atmosphere that's both refreshing and calming — perfect for welcoming guests or unwinding after a long day.”
Livingetc News Editor Lilith Hudson is self-described "diehard" fan of Soho Home's Bianco Bergamot & Mandarin Zest candle. “It's the perfect fresh yet soothing scent for a bedroom with notes of jasmine and neroli, and it lingers for ages.”
If you're fond of incense, Ryan Matthew says handmade fragrance goods company P.F. Candle Co. makes among the best. You can't go wrong with any of their aromatic varieties, though he favors Teakwood + Tobacco, a uniquely sultry blend of leather, teak, and orange.
Being a style editor, I've tried quite a few home scents, but always return to Flora Carnivora by natural fragrance brand Henry Rose. Clean brands, although wonderful in sentiment, occasionally miss the mark on the scents themselves, smelling, for lack of a better word, ‘crunchy’ — not Henry Rose. Everything the brand makes smells so luxe, and I feel great knowing that it's EWG Verified.
Janine Just Hornig of Roxy Rentals has learned a great deal about what scents are most pleasing to guests. The ideal scent should be delicate, and not overwhelming, while maintaining an air of freshness and luxury. She recommends the Fragrant + Essential Oil Blends from Murchison-Hume, which she adds to the dyer, ensuring that “linens receive that extra layer of indulgence.”
In 2023, New York-based interior designer Artem Kropovinsky liked candles with a "little bit of citrus or natural smells," such as this one by Jo Malone. Bright scents "deliver a groovy change" to the cozy scents we typically enjoy during the winter, while still maintaining that relaxing feel.
Kendra Hagerman, CEO and owner of Kendrafoundit.com, favors spa scents like eucalyptus, lavender, lemongrass, and bergamot. "My home is my happy place" she adds, "so I like to to pick scents that make it feel like my happy place." This diffuser blend by Sage is her go-to.
Brigid Kennedy, my style editor counterpart here at Livingetc, tried this oil diffuser from Target for its affordable price, but “was unbelievably shocked at how fragrant and long-lasting the smell is.” “Everyone that visited my apartment was asking where I got it... such a clean, refreshing, and welcoming scent. It's high time I buy a refill!”
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Formerly covering fashion at L’Officiel USA, style maven Julia Demer brings her love of design to Livingetc’s world of interiors. As the title’s Style Editor, Julia's work reflects a sharp eye for detail and an innate passion for aesthetics. Her journey began with a strong foundation in design, honing her craft at renowned establishments like The Row and even establishing her own eponymous fashion brand. Julia’s design background is evident in the way she thoughtfully curates shopping edits, always maintaining a focus on emerging trends while preserving timeless sensibilities. For Julia, fashion and interiors go hand in hand, reflecting her lifelong commitment to perfecting the art of style.
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