Home fragrance mistakes – 6 slip-ups to avoid when scenting a space

Avoid these six home fragrance mistakes for a better-smelling home, fragrance experts urge

Three candles in neutral colored pots on a wooden sideboard beside a vase of dried stems
(Image credit: St. Eval)

A good home fragrance can really elevate a space, creating a warm welcome or a relaxing retreat. However, it is not as simple as lighting a candle once every few days.

To truly make a home smell nice, you need to invest in balanced fragrance layering, high-quality scents, and a range of scenting mediums to perfect your signature scent and make a home smell expensive and cozy.

Perhaps most importantly, you need to avoid common home fragrance mistakes to elevate your home's perfume to another level and leave guests imploring to know your secrets.

Home fragrance mistakes

These six scenting slip-ups will only result in a poorly fragranced home – or worse, severe headaches. Here is how to avoid them according to home fragrance experts.

Candle, diffuser, and flowers on a table

(Image credit: Getty Images)

1. Using too much or too little fragrance

Striking the balance between too much and too little fragrance in a home is difficult. Even the best home fragrance can become overpowering if not used correctly.

There is often a fine line between not being able to smell something and a scent being so strong it makes you feel lightheaded – and it is easy to accidentally stray either side, warns Kim Berg, a fragrance trend expert at Air Wick:

‘Fragrance strength is one of the key areas to focus on in the home, and it unfortunately isn’t “one size fits all” in terms of an approach,’ she begins. ‘When creating a fragrance environment at home, you want to allow the fragrance to fill a space and be strong enough to leave an impression. However, you don’t want it to be so overpowering that your guests are overwhelmed and looking to open the nearest window for fresh air. Seek to find the balance that fits your space and the needs of your guests.’

How much scent you need will depend on the type and quality of the fragrance and the size of your space. Often it will take a bit of trial and error to get right. It is always best to err on the side of not enough, however, if you are in doubt, to avoid negative health consequences.

2. Opting for poor-quality mediums

If there is one home item you choose to invest in, let it be home fragrance, urges Allison Gustafson, owner of Applewood Candles Co. Poor quality is not only a health risk, but will often result in lackluster fragrance that doesn’t last, or smells awful after a few hours of burning.

‘Not investing in quality is huge – our health is at risk when burning commercial candles with unsafe ingredients. Always ensure the candles you burn use clean, natural wax and fragrances free of phthalates, parabens, and toxins. This sounds like a given however, it is so common for candles to contain toxins,’ Allison warns. ‘Our candles are free of phthalates, parabens, prop 65 chemicals, toxins, carcinogens, and mutagens. We also pride ourselves on using clean, coconut-soy wax and pure, sustainably sourced crackling wooden wicks.’

The best candles and best essential oil diffusers usually come at a premium price, but the investment is worth it for the luxury experience.

3. Forgetting to fragrance layer

Scenting a home is not a ‘light one candle and call it a day’ affair. To make a home smell good all the time, you need to invest time into fragrance layering and ensuring a constant flow of fresh fragrance to keep musty smells and odors at bay, continues Kim Berg, fragrance trend expert.

‘Don’t be afraid to explore scent in your home,’ she urges. ‘What’s exciting is fragrances can overlap from space to space within the home to create a different atmosphere as you move around.’ Working with the best scents for every room of your home can help to create a spa-like bathroom and a gourmand kitchen, for instance.

‘Not sure which can be layered? The good news is there are no hard “rules”, mix scents until you find a signature fragrance that screams “you”,’ she suggests.

4. Only scenting the space occasionally

Speaking of a constant flow of fragrance, keeping your home smelling nice is a continuous challenge. Not only do you need good cleaning tips to keep musty odors at bay, but you need to scent the space regularly to keep it smelling fresh, reminds Allison Gustafson, home fragrance expert:

‘Thinking a single candle, burned once a week will scent your home is a huge mistake. For a true, elegant, continual burst of scent, you must utilize a diffuser – we like the best reed diffusers. For a burst of scent paired with a beautifully aesthetic ambiance, burn a candle. For a quick burst of scent on the go, use a room or linen mist.’

5. Picking a fragrance that clashes with decor

While it can be helpful to pick a signature scent and use it in every room of the home, picking a fragrance that clashes with the room’s decor or purpose can make a home feel jarring, or impact your well-being, suggests Yvan Jacqueline, fragrance expert and CEO of Fine Fragrance Distribution.

Making a bedroom smell good for sleep, for instance, will create a much more relaxing atmosphere than pumping the space full of energizing citrus – which could throw the room out of balance, he warns. The scent should match the vibe of the decor. For example, a modern, mature space would benefit from mature ouds and warming gourmands, while a spa-like bathroom would be elevated by refreshing eucalyptus and mint.

6. Only scenting the air

There is more to making a space smell good than pumping the air full of fragrance, reminds Allison Gustafson, home fragrance expert. One of the biggest home fragrance mistakes homeowners make is forgetting to add a personalized scent to upholstery or furniture, or forgetting to use linen sprays, she adds.

‘This is our secret to an instant burst of scent,’ she reveals. ‘Whether you have an unexpected visitor or simply want to enhance your home with scent, a few mists of a room/linen mist will do the trick.'


How can I deal with fragrance sensitivity?

If you experience fragrance sensitivity when you try to scent your home, you can switch to all-natural wax candles free from toxins. Alternatively, try essential oil diffusers to see if using all-natural approaches limits your reaction. Alternatively, it can help to ensure good ventilation when scenting your home to allow the flow of fresh air to help freshen up the space. Finally, using an air purifier can help to remove any dangerous toxins or chemicals from your air to improve your breathing.

Avoiding these six most common home fragrance mistakes will quickly enhance your home and add another layer of detail to make any space feel more put together.

Chiana Dickson
Content Editor

Chiana has been at Homes & Gardens for two years, having started her journey in interior journalism as part of the graduate program. She spends most of her time producing content for the Solved section of the website, helping readers get the most out of their homes through clever decluttering, cleaning, and tidying tips – many of which she tests and reviews herself in her home in Lancaster to ensure they will consistently deliver for her readers and dabbles in the latest design trends. She also has a first-class degree in Literature from Lancaster University.