The best home scents for wellbeing – 6 fragrances to impact your mood

These six scents all have powerful effects on the body, experts say – here’s how to harness them

A reed diffuser and candle on a table by a sofa
(Image credit: GettyImages)

Our home fragrance can do more than just make our home fresh for guests and stave off bad odors. It can have a significant impact on our mood and wellbeing, too. 

While wellness in design usually starts with how we decorate our homes, fragrance layering can add dimension to our spaces, offering relaxing scents for sleep or invigorating fragrances to inspire productivity. 

According to experts, these are the six best home scents for wellbeing, how they impact your brain, and how to harness them.

Best scents for wellbeing 

It should come as no surprise that certain scents can have such a drastic impact on your mood. No one likes the smell of burnt food, for instance – it often makes us uncomfortable – so why not flip it and use scents that specifically make you feel at home? 

‘Fragrance can have an enormous effect on your mood. A floral fragrance evokes an atmosphere of cleanliness and sunny weather, which can be uplifting during the dreary winter months,’ begins Kamila Miller, scent expert at luxury candle company Charles Farris. 'Alternatively, warming, cozy scents can help on a chilly evening to help evoke the experience of settling in around a bonfire'. 

This is how to make your home smell nice with intention in mind:

1. Lavender – to promote sleep

Lavender on bed

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Lavender is often one of the most known scents that help to promote well-being. It is well known that a lavender pillow spray will help you sleep, after all:

‘Lavender is one of the most calming and relaxing essential oils for your diffuser that soothes the senses and helps create a relaxing environment,’ explains Ed Dailey, director of product education at Young Living Essential Oils. ‘Florals such as these offer a comforting, fresh aroma that creates a tranquil, peaceful atmosphere.’

Lavender is not the only option when making a bedroom smell good for sleep, however. If you prefer, you can try other florals such as geranium and Ylang Ylang, or even switch it out entirely for a warming vanilla to soothe the senses and make a bedroom feel cozy

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Apothecary 18 Lavender & Balsam Jar Candle
$36 at Anthropologie
This exquisite candle is inspired by French apothecary jars and is scented with aromatic green lavender, fresh balsam, citrus accents, and warm hickory.

2. Chamomile – to relax your body

Relaxing bedroom with White Company bedding and throws

(Image credit: The White Company)

Another perfectly relaxing scent is chamomile. This aromatic herb is mostly used in teas to help relax your body, but a good quality essential oil can have the same effect through scent, shares Karina Alarhadi, scent expert and CEO of Aroma Passions:

‘Chamomile offers anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic effects that can be helpful for relaxing muscles, relieving headaches, and helping with menstrual cramps,’ she explains. ‘Chamomile also features a mild sedative side that will help you sleep better – making it a great alternative to lavender.’  

Eym Rest Candle | View at Eym

Eym Rest Candle | View at Eym

This luxurious candle naturally diffuses a strong soothing scent into your room without it becoming overwhelming. The blend of camomile, lavender, and sweet orange is ultra-calming.

3. Mint & Rosemary – to help you focus

green office with white desk

(Image credit: Future)

Although most commonly associated with our kitchens, herbs like mint and rosemary also have a place in our home offices if you want to improve focus, scent experts say. 

‘If you want a fragrance that will promote energy and focus, anything with mint is perfect,’ begins Kamila Miller, scent expert. ‘Mint is refreshing and promotes alertness, perfect for studying or work. Studies show that mint is helpful with both memory recall and wakefulness.’ 

You can use mint-scented products or try to grow mint indoors for a pop of productive color and something extra for your home cooking.  

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Linnea Recycled Glass Candle, Crushed Mint
$39 at Anthropologie
Bright and fresh with notes of wild mint, lemon zest, and clary sage, this beautiful-smelling candle has been hand-poured into a recycled glass vessel.

Alternatively, if you prefer a more grounded, earthy scent, ‘rosemary has long been associated with memory enhancement and mental clarity,’ adds Dr. Melissa Gentry, neuropsychology specialist and founder of Healing the Love. ‘Research suggests that inhaling the scent of rosemary can improve cognitive performance and increase focus, attributed to its ability to stimulate neurotransmitters like acetylcholine, which play a key role in learning and memory.'

Therefore, rosemary may be particularly beneficial for tasks that require sustained attention and concentration.

Melissa Gentry
Dr. Melissa Gentry

Dr. Melissa Gentry is a Doctor of Applied Clinical Psychology, Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist and Certified Tantra Educator with a deep passion for understanding human relationships and fostering healing. With over a decade of experience and an extensive educational and training background, she specializes in a wide range of psychological and neuropsychological concerns. 

4. Eucalyptus – to clear your airways

Eucalyptus in shower

(Image credit: GettyImages)

There is nothing like a stuffy nose or irritated airways to bring down your mood. If you are looking to improve your health and aid in breathing exercises, eucalyptus is the scent for you.

‘Eucalyptus is clarifying for the airways and sinuses as it acts as a mild decongestant and helps ease respiratory issues,’ says Lindsey Chastain, homesteader and life blogger at The Waddle and Cluck. ‘Eucalyptus is one of my favorite winter scents because it smells cozy and helps all the stuffy noses,’ she shares. 

While you can use essential oils, there is nothing like fresh eucalyptus to hang around your home. For its health benefits, we recommend using eucalyptus in the shower to help with inhalation and relaxation.  

Lindsey Chastain
Lindsey Chastain

Lindsey started gardening in 2005, when her first son was born, as a way to save money. It started with a small window herb garden, then expanded to potted vegetables, and now, she and her husband can regularly be spotted in the garden on their homestead.

5. Sandalwood – to ground and relieve stress

Cozy living room in brown and deep purple color palette

(Image credit: OKA)

Often touted as one of the most romantic scents for a home, sandalwood has the innate ability to promote relaxation and reduce stress, perfect for setting the mood or unwinding after a long day, Dr. Melissa Gentry, neuropsychology specialist, says.

‘Inhalation of sandalwood has been shown to induce a sense of calm and tranquility, attributed to its effects on the limbic system, the brain region involved in emotions and memory. 

‘By inhaling the scent of sandalwood, individuals may experience a deep sense of peace and inner harmony, making it an ideal choice for meditation and spiritual practices.’

6. Vanilla – to improve your mood

Living room by McGee & Co.

(Image credit: McGee & Co.)

Perhaps one of the most common scents used for home fragrances, vanilla is a great go-to if you want to feel comfortable and boost your mood, Dr. Melissa Gentry, neuropsychology specialist, continues. 

‘The scent of vanilla has been shown to have mood-enhancing effects, promoting feelings of relaxation and contentment. From a neuropsychological perspective, vanilla can help individuals feel more at ease and receptive to romantic gestures, enhancing the overall experience of intimacy and connection.’

WoodWick Vanilla Bean Candle | View at Amazon

WoodWick Vanilla Bean Candle | View at Amazon
Woodwick candles don't just smell great, they crackle like a log fire. Perfect for setting a cozy, romantic mood

FAQs

What is the most uplifting scent?  

One of the best scents to help uplift your mood is fresh florals such as Ylang Ylang. This tropical floral fragrance can help to invigorate your mind and spur inspiration, helping you to feel more energized and uplifted. 

What fragrance is best for positive energy? 

One of the best fragrances to introduce positive energy to your home is peppermint. Peppermint is perfect for boosting your mood and making you feel more alert. As such, it helps you focus on your priorities and gives you a mood boost to prevent low mood, staving off negative energies.  


When picking the best scents for well-being, it is important to consider where you are using them around your home. Scent expert, Kamila Miller says that context is everything if you want a fragrance to have an effect on your mood. You don’t want to put a relaxing, sleep scent in your home office where you need to improve mental focus, for instance. 

‘When choosing scents for specific rooms, be mindful of the environment you want to cultivate. For the kitchen, it’s better to lean towards scents that complement food, like mint or citrus. For the bathroom, fragrances that evoke a feeling of cleanliness are paramount — florals or citrus work well.

Chiana Dickson
Writer

Chiana has been at Homes & Gardens for a year, 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.