7 things people with nice-smelling small spaces always do, according to interior designers

These clever things that things people with nice-smelling small spaces always do are affordable and easy to replicate

Two pictures: one of a gray bedroom with plants and one of a green vase with pink flowers
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Knowing what things people with nice-smelling small spaces always do is useful for those living in rentals and apartments. The compact size of these can mean unpleasant smells can stay all in one place — so it’s a good idea to know how to tackle these with more lovely scents.

I live in a small rental, and I find that bad scents can travel quickly in my place. I also love making my home smell super fresh, but don’t have all day to keep spraying around room spray. I was curious to find out what people with consistently good-smelling homes do instead — and I was pleasantly surprised to find out there are lots of budget-friendly tricks.

Want to know what people with nice-smelling homes do to make their place smell amazing? I’ve spoken to experts to find out how they wow their guests with home fragrance.

Things people with nice-smelling small spaces always do

From lighting the best candles you can afford to using fresh plants, these tips are all implement at home.

1. Utilize natural scents

Decor accessories in the interior of a modern bright living room with white walls and wooden furniture. Bouquet of fresh pink tulip flowers.

(Image credit: Getty Images / Liubov Kaplitskaya)

Instead of relying on synthetic fragrances, opt for natural sources of pleasant aromas. “Place fresh flowers, herbs, or citrus fruits in small vases around your home,” says Vitaliy Vinogradov, interior designer at Modern.Place. Their natural fragrance will infuse the air with a delightful smell. However, if you do own a pet, choose your foliage carefully. Lillies, for example, can be toxic to cats.

A picture of Vitaliy Vinogradov in a black shirt next to lights
Vitaliy Vinogradov

Vitaliy Vinogradov is an interior designer at Modern.Place. With years of experience in the industry, he is an expert in creating beautiful and functional spaces.

2. Make DIY air fresheners

A glass bottle of lemon room spray with lemons around it

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While store-bought air fresheners are quick and easy to use, making your own will give your home a unique scent. “Make your own air freshener using natural ingredients like essential oils, baking soda, and water,” suggests Vinogradov. If you want to copy this trick, this Pure Aroma essential oil set is Amazon’s Choice

3. Create an aroma bowl

Oranges being boiled in a silver saucepan

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You can elevate your small space’s scent by crafting a DIY aroma bowl. “Simply fill a decorative bowl with water, add citrus slices, fragrant herbs, and a few drops of essential oil,” explains David Mason, interior designer and founder of Knobs.co. “Allow it to sit and disperse its refreshing aroma, transforming your room into a fragrant oasis.” 

A black and white picture of David Mason wearing a fedora hat
David Mason

David Mason is an interior designer and the founder of Knobs.co. He has 10+ years of experience in home improvement, architecture, and interior design.

You can also do this with a simmer pot. “Fill a small pot with water, add spices like cinnamon, cloves, or vanilla extract, and simmer it on low heat,” adds Vinogradov. This technique will release a wonderful scent throughout your home and also add some moisture to the air. If you want to try doing this with seasonal scents, try out our fall simmer pot recipes.

4. Decorate with indoor plants

Computer at table in apartment. Bright modern room with furniture. Interior of home office.

(Image credit: Getty Images / Morsa images)

Some of the best indoor plants can actually add fragrance and style to your home. “Lavender, jasmine, or eucalyptus, will not only add beauty, but will also release natural fragrances,” says Vinogradov. If you’re green-fingered, you could use this Back to the Roots lavender plant kit from Amazon to grow your own. “Aromatic plants will improve the air quality and provide a pleasant scent.” Air purifying plants are also a great way to keep the air fresh and clean.

5. Layer scents

Wicker furniture with eco materials, handicraft cushions, aroma reed diffuser, burning candles and textile at boho chic interior. Hygge and aromatherapy concept. Cozy winter or autumn time.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Another tip used by those with enviable-smelling small spaces is to layer fragrances. “This means using different scented products such as candles, reed diffusers, and room sprays that complement each other,” explains Fred McGill, interior designer at Next Modern Home. This creates a more complex and luxurious scent that lingers in the air. 

Fancy making your own reed diffuser to personalize your home scent? We've got a 4-step guide on how to do just that! 

A picture of Fred McGill wearing a blue shirt
Fred McGill

Fred McGill, is an interior designer and founder of Next Modern Home. He specializes in creating unique and functional spaces for clients, while also making sure they are strategically laid out for maximum efficiency.

6. Make sure your space is well-ventilated

A bed with pink cushions below a window with pink decals

(Image credit: Purlfrost Window Film)

Smaller spaces like apartments can get overly warm, which is why it’s important to keep them well-ventilated. “Open windows and let fresh air circulate, as this can help eliminate any stale odors and bring in a natural fragrance,” says Vinogradov. “Strategically placing scent sources near ventilation or in corners where air circulation is good will ensure a consistent distribution of fragrance,” adds McGill.

7. Place bowls of coffee grounds around

A silver tin with coffee grounds being taken out with a spoon

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Don’t let the grounds from your coffee maker go to waste. Instead, fill small bowls filled with them in various corners of your home. “Coffee has a strong aroma that can neutralize unpleasant smells, leaving your space refreshed,” Vinogradov tells me. Just remember to change the coffee grounds regularly, so they don’t go moldy. You can also use coffee grounds to keep your kitchen clean, and free from odors. Pop a bowl of spent coffee in the fridge, or a few spoons in your trash can to deodorize any whiffs.

Three buys that will make your small space smell amazing

Want to put our experts’ advice into practice? These renter-friendly buys will help you do just that.

The prices below were correct at the time of publishing this article.


Why is it important to make a small space smell nice?

Making your small space smell good will make it a more pleasant place to relax in, especially if you use relaxing scents like lavender and eucalyptus. This will also impress any guests that you have. 

How can I make my small space smell great?

Using aroma pots, keeping your home well-ventilated, and decorating with indoor plants are all easy ways to make your small home or apartment smell good, that won’t take up too much space. 

Now that you know how others make their homes smell good, you can get started on making your own home smell good. Essential oil diffusers are a low-maintenance way to add fragrance to your home, as you can just set a timer on them and let them do their thing. 

Eve Smallman
Content Editor

Hi there! I’m a content editor at Real Homes. I've been a lifestyle journalist for over five years, previously working as an editor across regional magazines. Before this, I graduated from Nottingham Trent University a degree in journalism, along with an NCTJ gold diploma. I love running, decorating my rented Victorian home, and discovering new cheeses. For Real Homes, I specialize in interior design, trends and finding the best viral buys.