The best home fragrance: by scent and room

With help from these best home fragrance buys, you can give your space an instant update – and mimic the current season

Best home fragrance graphic in pink – Skandinavisk candle, Yankee candle, Rituals reed diffuser and Noble Isle candle
(Image credit: Future)

Buying the best home fragrance is an integral part of your decorating – we're being serious here! Because what's the point in painting your home, buying expensive furniture or DIYing on the weekends if your house doesn't smell as good as it looks? Welcome to the Real Homes best fragrance guide, where you can trust us to recommend a scent for setting the atmosphere in your home. Whether that be inside your hallway, living room or bedroom is your choice.

Not just for masking odours, certain home fragrances also double to look lovely when on display. In this guide, we've listed everything from the best candles and the best reed diffusers to room sprays, too. Plus, we've also tried a load of them, to double-check that they are up to scratch.

First up are our top picks by scent – we are talking woody, spicy, herbal, floral and more. Then, keep scrolling for the best buys by room. 

The best home fragrance buys

We have listed our favourite home fragrances by scent first, then we have gone on to list the best home fragrances by room. 

The best home fragrance by scent

The White Company Fireside DiffuserReal Homes Rated Gold badge

(Image credit: The White Company)

The White Company Fireside Diffuser

The best woody home fragrance

Size: 150ml
Notes: Smoked woods, birch, amber

The White Company's Fireside diffuser is the perfect addition to your home come autumn and wintertime. Just place the reeds in the fragrance as soon as the weather starts getting cold. Then, pop it in a living room, bedroom or hallway and breathe in the powerful yet unique scent that replicates... you guessed it: the smell of a roaring fireplace. It really is extraordinary – and impressively powerful yet never too scented.

With scent notes of smoked woods, birch and amber, this concoction almost screams autumn and winter. It adds a warm and cosy vibe to any room, no matter its size. 

Housed inside the classic The White Company glass vessel, this diffuser will look the part on your side whilst scenting your home. It comes with rattan sticks to use accordingly, based on your room size and strength preference. It also comes inside a gorgeous white box, making it ready to gift.

Good to know
We tested this reed diffuser in both a large living room and a medium size bedroom, and both times it scented our space like a treat. You'll need to flip the reeds occasionally, but rest assured once you do, this scent will fill the air in your space. You can also place this reed diffuser anywhere inside a room – it doesn't need to be placed in the centre of a space! It's definitely not one for spring or summer, just an FYI.

Noble Isle Whisky and Water candle with boxReal Homes Rated Gold badge

(Image credit: Noble Isle)

Noble Isle Whisky and Water Candle

The best spicy home fragrance

Size: 200g
Notes: Whisky, water

When we say that Noble Isle's Whisky and Water Candle is spicy, we truly mean it. It's also powerful and can be smelled before it's lit. Use it to fragrance any size room – and to make a statement. 

Scented with, you guessed it: whisky and water, but also tonka bean and amber for good balance. It also has subtle floral notes to control its power, but otherwise, it's as spicy as they come. It might even be too spicy for smaller rooms – and we definitely suggest avoiding lighting this candle in window-less rooms.

Poured inside a matte black glass vessel with a subtle Noble Isle logo on the front, this candle looks as elegant as it smells. It also arrives inside a lovely gift box with a bow on top.

Good to know
It's vegan and also has a 45-hour burn time. We also noticed that it burns clean, though it doesn't come with a lid to prevent dusting. 

Best home fragrance: The White Company Geranium Leaf CandleReal Homes Rated Gold badge

(Image credit: The White Company)

The White Company Geranium Leaf Candle

The best herbal home fragrance

Size: 210g
Notes: Geranium, peppermint & sicilian orange

Searching for a fresh home fragrance? This Geranium Leaf candle should be in your home – it's uplighting and anything but subtle. A unique blend of citrus with herbs and fruits, it's also powerful enough to rid your home of any smells. Place it in a kitchen or bathroom, or even hallway for the best results.

With immediate notes of geranium, hence the name, as well as peppermint and Sicilian orange, there are also very subtle notes of lavender in this candle. 

Poured inside a ceramic vessel that arrives complete with a lid, we think this candle would look the part in a kitchen or bathroom in particular. It also arrives inside a box, in case you want to give it as a gift to someone special.

Good to know
The same goes for all The White Company candles – they are filled in the UK using high-quality wax. Be aware that this candle can be overpowering if lit in a smaller room.

Best home fragrance: Skandinavisk Rosenhave scented candleReal Homes Rated Gold badge

(Image credit: Skandinavisk)

Skandinavisk Rosenhave scented candle

The best floral home fragrance

Size: 200g
Notes: Alba rose, elderflower, blackcurrant buds and lily of the valley

If you prefer floral scents but you aren't a fan of anything overpowering then this Skandinavisk candle is your top pick. It looks the part and smells the part, with a very impressive burn time of 50 hours. This candle, the Ronsenhave translates from Danish as 'rose garden', which are seen as precious places in Nordic countries.

This candle has notes of Alba rose, elderflower, blackcurrant buds and lily of the valley. It's pretty much your ultimate spring-summer candle, without being too similar to other floral candles we have tried. What we love the most about it is how it doesn't give you a headache – it's perfectly subtle yet nice and fragrant.

This candle arrives presented in a box, and it has a wooden lid for preserving the smell. This lid is loose and you can pop it under the candle after lighting. The glass vessel definitely looks the part and would be a lovely addition to Skandi-style homes. Since this candle boasts a floral smell, its glass vessel is a pastel pink colour. With a decorative yet muted pattern, it would look lovely anywhere – in a bedroom, living room or hallway.

Good to know
Skandinavisk candles are natural and organic, as well as vegan and cruelty-free. They are also made with Swedish rapeseed wax. They come wrapped in FSC-certified packaging and any plastic that comes with is made from plants.

Best home fragrance: Yankee candle of the year 2021 - discoveryReal Homes Rated Gold badge

(Image credit: Yankee)

Yankee Candle Discovery Candle

The best fruity home fragrance

Size: 623g
Notes: Starfruit, mango, passionfruit, vanilla and ginger

Yankee Candle's Scent of the Year for 2021 is named Discovery, and after lighting it in our home for some time we rate this as the best fruity home fragrance you can buy. It's unlike any other fruity candle we've smelt, with notes of starfruit and vanilla and ginger for good balance.

This fruity candle is perfect for lighting in spring or summer – it's vibrant and fragrant. With fruity notes of starfruit, passionfruit and mango, balanced with vanilla and also ginger to give it a kick. 

Poured into a large glass vessel, this candle comes with a pink lid and the jar itself features a decorative design. It's definitely pretty enough to go on display.

Good to know
It's a tad powerful, so you may want to light it in a larger bedroom. Also, it's very large and should burn for a total of 110 hours. This candle isn't available to buy until the 21st March – aka International Fragrance Day.

Rituals The Ritual of Sakura Fragrance SticksReal Homes Rated Gold badge

(Image credit: Rituals)

Rituals The Ritual of Sakura Fragrance Sticks

The best oriental home fragrance

Size: 250ml
Scent: Rice milk and cherry blossom

The powerful oriental scent of Rituals' The Ritual of Sakura fragrance is one to turn heads – and surprise noses. If you are searching for a strong reed diffuser, perhaps for a bathroom for disguising odours, or for a hallway for flooding fragrance into several rooms, then this is it. It's small in size yet mighty powerful.

With nods to the oriental fragrance family thanks to notes of rice milk, cherry blossom, it's a mix of creamy and sweet. When testing this reed diffuser, we moved it around our home from the hallway to the bathroom, living room and even inside a spare bedroom. 

One thing will we complain about is the packaging. Although it's lovely and boasts a white ribbed design with black reeds, it is very easy to knock over. This is due to its tall shape, so we would suggest placing it way out of the way of arms, tails and more. A benefit, though, is that you can buy refill bottles for this diffuser so that you can use the same vessel over and over again.

Good to know
Each and every time it managed to flood its scent from corner to corner of a space. You won't really need to flip the reeds with this diffuser, but you can do it when you want a boost or feel like you can no longer smell it (this should take a while!).

Best home fragrance: Neom Organics Happiness candle

(Image credit: John Lewis)

Neom Happiness candle

The best fresh home fragrance

Size: 75g, 185g
Notes: Mimosa, neroli, lemon

If ever the title of a home fragrance corresponded exactly to the effect it creates, then this is it. Happiness in a candle? It's not just a marketing ploy. This all-natural room fragrance by Neom Organics smells absolutely amazing, and is guaranteed to bring a smile to your face.

A sparkly, sunny neroli blossom; we can't really smell any mimosa here, and the lemon is in the background rather than dominant. What we really like about this fragrance is that it's very different from most natural or spa-inspired products out there, which usually smell of lavender. This smells strong and distinctive, and not at all herbal.

Simple but effective glass with a sticker. It's not particularly interesting, but when the scent is this good, it doesn't really matter.

Good to know
Obviously, if you don't like neroli, steer clear, as it's the dominant note, and it's very, very strong. However, if you're a fan of orange blossom based fragrances (or even just white florals), you will be in heaven, we promise.

Best home fragrance: Skadinavisk Hygge reed diffuser

(Image credit: John Lewis & Partners)

Skadinavisk Hygge reed diffuser

The best sweet home fragrance

Size: 200ml
Notes: tea, strawberry, rose petals, wild mint

Skadinavisk make perfect home scents for lovers of all things Scandi, which is to say light, airy, and not too loud. This reed diffuser in particular is lovely, and it will last in your home for at least three months.

The Skadinavisk Hygge reed diffuser features notes of tea and baked strawberry cake, rose petals and wild mint. Never oppressive, this fragrance is the perfect choice for anyone who likes a home scent that is subtly present in the background, rather than obvious.

Packed in a matching box to the glass diffuser jar, this is a product we definitely wouldn't mind displaying on our shelves. The opaque glass bottles feature miniature white symbols painted on them as well as the logo, and it comes with eight diffuser sticks.

Good to know
Those with big homes/rooms may not benefit from the subtle smell of this room fragrance. However, you could just use more diffuser sticks. It's a little pricey, too.

The best home fragrance by room

Neom Real Luxury Reed DiffuserReal Homes Rated Gold badge

(Image credit: Neom)

Neom Real Luxury Reed Diffuser

The best home fragrance for living rooms

Size: 100ml
Notes: Lavender, rosewood, jasmine

This 100 per cent natural fragrance from NEOM is brilliant for a living room – it's nice and fresh yet never overpowering. We say to place it in the middle of your coffee table and flip the reeds every few days for a nice fragrance boost.

This reed diffuser is fragranced using only natural essential oils, and it's a blend of lavender, rosewood and jasmine. It's the perfect balance of floral and fresh, meaning that it will ensure your living room always smells lovely, no matter how long you spend lounging on your sofa in your chill clothes on the weekend.

The liquid is housed inside a classic Neom diffuser vessel and comes with reeds. You can add these reeds as you like, depending on your room size. This diffuser arrives inside a box, ready to gift.

Good to know
It's not the strongest fragrance ever, which is why we think it's great for a living room – no one wants to be tasting their reed diffuser or candle whilst catching up on their favourite TV show. When you do want an instant scent boost, just flip the reeds.

Best home fragrance: The White Company Spa Retreat CandleReal Homes Rated Gold badge

(Image credit: The White Company)

The White Company Spa Retreat Candle

The best home fragrance for bedrooms

Size: 140g
Notes: Pink Pepper, Petitgrain & Cedarwood

The White Company's Spa Retreat candle is our favourite pick for a bedroom. Why? Simply because it smells great, while still managing to be nice and subtle. With a burn time of 33 hours, it's perfect for lighting just before bed, to help you drift off to sleep (just obviously make sure you blow it out before shutting your eyes).

This candle is warming yet herbal with notes of pink pepper, petitgrain and cedarwood. It's quite subtle but we wouldn't want anything that smells strong in our bedroom. It's also very calming and we find that if we light it in our bedroom, the fragrance slightly drifts into our hallway... lovely.

It comes inside a lovely box that would make it a lovely present, and the candle is poured inside a glass vessel. The packaging perfectly pairs with the fragrance – simple yet effective.

Good to know
As with all of The White Company's candles, Spa Retreat is hand-finished in the UK and made from the highest-quality mineral wax.

Best home fragrance: Dr Vranjes Rosso Nobile reed diffuser

(Image credit: Fortnum & Mason)

Dr Vranjes Rosso Nobile room diffuser

The best home fragrance for a study

Size: 250ml - 5000ml
Notes: plum and berries
Reasons to buy
+Delicious sweet fragrance+Comes in lots of different sizes
Reasons to avoid
-Not cheap-No candle option

The Rosso Nobile by Dr Vranjes is described by the brand as 'the scent of finest Tuscan wines'. In reality, this diffuser is a delicious (and surprisingly non-sickly) blend of red fruits and berries. Due to its luxurious-looking vessel, we think it would go perfectly in a study.

Think of the finest strawberry jam being made and ripe plums scattered around your home. 

Delivered in a nice classy box and encased in a brown tall bottle, the design of this bottle isn't for everyone, but that doesn't mean it isn't elegant.

Good to know
Full disclaimer: those who were hoping for a realistic rendition of the scent of wine will be disappointed. 

Best home fragrance: Wild Mint by The White Company

(Image credit: The White Company)

The White Company Wild Mint Diffuser

The best home fragrance for the kitchen

Size: 100ml
Notes: mint, white tea

What is the best home scent that will seamlessly and deliciously blend in with the scent of fresh laundry, or with the wholesome smells of food prep in the kitchen? Enter The White Company Wild Mint Diffuser. One of The White Company's longest standing home fragrances, it's earned its place in our buyer's guide through years of continuous use and repurchasing.

The Wild Mint smell of this diffuser is not as minty as you'd expect, thanks to the sweet and vivacious tea note. We think that the result is the perfect abstract 'clean' fragrance: exactly how you want an airy kitchen to smell.

The White Company have changed and changed the packaging of their home fragrance range over the years, and the latest iteration is a simple and minimalist clear glass bottle. It's nothing special, but we somewhat prefer it to the clunky opaque packaging of a few years ago.

Good to know
This fragrance used to come in a spray version, which was very useful as a room freshener for bathrooms. Please bring it back, The White Company! Also, we should note that this reed diffuser is small, so it doesn't last as long as we would hope.

How to choose the best home fragrance for different rooms in the house

Of course, fragrance is very subjective, and if you like what you like and it's working for you, rules really don't matter. But if you're not sure which home fragrance will suit which rooms, there are a few general rules that can help you make the right choice.

Living rooms: The living room is usually the largest room in the house and can take a strong fragrance. Bold florals, rich amber-based or woody-smoky fragrances, and sweet scents, for those with a sweet tooth, can all travel beautifully across a living room. We'd avoid anything herbal or overly subtle, as you probably won't be able to smell it much.

Bedrooms: Choosing a scent for a bedroom is all about making sure you won't disrupt your sleep with an overly strong or stimulating fragrance. Avoid citruses or cloyingly sweet scents; we recommend subtly blended white florals, minimalist scents with tea notes, or herbal room fragrances with lavender or chamomile.

Kitchens: The best room fragrance for a kitchen will blend perfectly with the smells of food being prepared, so it's always a good idea to pick something that harmonises with those smells. Notes of tomato, passion fruit, basil, citrus, or mint all work really well in kitchens.

Bathrooms: This is your wild card of a room that can accommodate almost any fragrance, strong or subtle – it's all about preference. For our money, though, bathrooms really come alive with a fruity and slightly tangy fragrance in them – think berry or rhubarb notes. 

Hallways: The hallway announces what your home is like to guests, so why not go for a bit of bombast? Opulent white florals, rose scents, or complex woody fragrances will make a strong first impression.

Home office: A home office fragrance needs to help you be productive, without being too distracting. Bright citruses will help you stay awake and concentrate, while a grounded fragrance with notes of amber or tobacco will conjure up a calm and controlled atmosphere.