There’s always that one friend with the best home fragrance that you walk into their place and all you want to do is snoop around their home until you find whatever is making it smell so amazing, shove it in your coat, and run out cackling like a cartoon villain. No? That might just be me.
But we also all know that one friend whose house has an overhanging smell of cat litter or yesterday’s fish dinner, even though you’d never say anything about it. Don’t be that friend.
If you want that enviable, perfect home scent you can either keep your home impeccable and filled with fresh cut flowers, or you can cheat with a home fragrance. I’m not talking about grocery store aerosol sprays that smell like cloyingly fake vanilla or headache-inducing florals. I’m talking about high quality home fragrance products that allow you to give your space the atmosphere you’re looking for.
What’s the difference between a good and a bad home fragrance? Ignoring the fact that cheap home fragrances smell artificial, when you smell a cheap home fragrance, whether it’s a spray or diffuser, you can name the scent. If it’s apple cinnamon, your guests can walk in and identify apple and cinnamon.
That doesn’t sound bad and yes, you want your fragrances to smell like what they say they are, but when they are so one or two note like cheap fragrances are, your guests know exactly what it is. They can tell you’re covering up something with a spray.
Think of it this way, when you get into a friend’s car and it reeks of vanilla, you don’t assume that space naturally smells like vanilla, but that someone has doused it in spray to cover up some funky odors. That’s what we’re trying to avoid.
High quality home fragrances are complex, layered, and balanced by trusted perfume houses. When someone walks into a home and the scent is clean and warm, and they can pick out hints of citrus, something green, and something woodsy, they don’t assume its a spray–they assume your house smells like that. That’s the goal and that’s something that cheap home fragrances can’t do.
Another way to add scents to your space is through scented candles. The same rules of scent complexity apply to candles, though they create a whole different kind of atmosphere. Read my guide to the Best Luxury Candles for designer candle options and information about how smells can affect our emotions. But for those with young children or rambunctious pets, having an open flame around might not be best and diffusers and room sprays are the way to go.
Reed Diffuser Tips.
If you think there’s no right or wrong way to use a reed diffuser, you’re probably not getting the most out of your money.
Place your reed diffuser where it’s in no danger of being knocked over, but preferable in an area with a draft, such as near a window, ceiling fan, or heating vent. This will move the scent around the room more efficiently.
Fill your diffuser vessel only about half full. That’s all the reeds need to start releasing the scent. Save the rest for when you need to change your reeds.
The more reeds in your diffuser, the stronger the fragrance will be. Start with two or three reeds and slowly increase until you have the desired level of fragrance.
Flip your reeds. Every week or so, flip your reeds so that the dry side is inserted in the oil. This will help jumpstart the fragrance. Be sure to do this over a sink in case of drips since fragrance oils can damage fabrics and finished surfaces.
Use fresh reeds. After a while, your reeds will be dusty, worn out, and unable to absorb and diffuse your oil properly. You can buy fresh reeds pretty cheaply and the difference is very noticable. You can get them in the traditional tan color, in black, and even in natural looking wavy rattan sticks.
Now let’s get into these best home fragrance products that will have your guests jealous. Just be sure to check their coats for your diffusers before they leave.
1. Antica Farmacista Room Spray in Prosecco
Anitca Farmacista is a Seattle-based company founded by two best friends with a passion for creating designer scents. Their fragrances are potent but never overwhelming. Antica Farmacista provides the sort of depth of scent and welcoming atmosphere that you’d expect from a luxury hotel suite.
This high end room spray comes in a thick glass bottle and the scent Manhattan has a matte black label and whiskey-colored liquid giving the whole bottle a look of expensive liquor. And that’s appropriate with a fragrance inspired by the bubbly prosecco.
Prosecco begins with satsuma orange and sugared currant with a heart of fruity passion fruit and apricot. The base of the scent has the bright pop of champange without coming across as boozy.
I have this scent in a body butter and it’s lively and inviting fragrance that makes me think of late night gatherings and soft murmur of party guests. The Antica Farmacista sprays are great as room sprays or as a spritz for linens. Prosecco is also available as a reed diffuser and candle.
- Complex, layered fragrances
- Choice of scent
- Elegant glass bottle
- Can be used on linens and fabrics
- Comes in gift-ready box
- Sprays don’t last as long as diffusers
2. Lafco House & Home Diffuser in Beach House
This reed diffuser in the scent Beach House is part of Lafco’s House & Home Collection which is a set of fragrances that where designed with a room of the house in mind. LAFCO built each scent around how you want to feel when you’re in those room with scents like Guest Room (bright and uplifting) and Meditation Room (calm and spa-like).
I’m featuring Beach House which has top notes of salt air and dune grass, like the sea breeze the whips the coast on a bright day. This is balanced by a foundation of sun-warmed amber and gingery blue lotus.
The hand blown glass vessel comes with reeds and enough of the fragrance to last you a year. After that, scent refills are available so you don’t have to repurchase the diffuser. It comes in a gift-ready box, making it a great housewarming gift.
- Each scent tailored to a room
- Hand blown glass
- Choice of many fragrances
- Each bottle lasts one year
- Gift-ready box
- Reeds need to be rotated and flipped periodically
3. Aera Smart Home Fragrance Diffuser
This is the only electronic fragrance diffuser that I’m including on the list. I’ve had lots of mist diffusers in my life and while I’ve enjoyed them, they always left the air feeling a little stale and they easily overwhelm a space which can give some folks headaches.
The Aera is in a completely different league. This smart diffuser doesn’t require water refills, and instead comes with fragrance capsules that you slot into the top of your diffuser. At intervals, the device releases a burst of scent.
You can control how often and how strong the scent will be by choosing a setting between one and 10, which is a huge range. Each capsule is good for at least 60 days of continuous use on a middle setting, but I can tell you that for a small apartment, I rarely keep mine at over the second setting and after several months my capsule is still at over 90% full.
How do I know that? The Aera has an app because this is a smart diffuser. I have an app on my phone that lets me name my device and senses what fragrance I have inserted and lets me know how full the capsule is.
It also lets me turn my device on and off, set and change the fragrance strength, and create schedules so I can have the device turn on and off at certain times of the day, certain days of the week. I love being able to turn my Aera on from my phone on my way back home after being away on a trip and knowing that when I get there it will smell fresh and clean even after being shut up for a week–without having to waste fragrance on a place I’m not in like if I had a reed diffuser going.
It’s good for up to 2000 square feet, but the strength levels means you can dial it back to whatever size you’re in. It’s a small, unobtrusive device and the packaging is high end looking, making it a really great gift. I was sent a sample Aera device along with some fragrance samples to try out, but made it very clear that was not a guarantee of a positive review or even that I would review the product at all.
Price: From $149
- Precise control of scent strength
- Wide range of scents to choose from
- Long lasting
- Can create fragrance schedules
- Device controllable by app
- Gift ready box
- Needs to be plugged in
4. Amika Signature Room Fragrance
Amika is most well known for their professional hair products, all with the unique Amika fragrance. I have their dry shampoo and I absolutely the smell of it. I’ll spray it on my hair half for dry the shampoo and half for the fragrance.
Now we can enjoy this fragrance as a room and linen spray which I’m very excited about. You may think it’s weird to be that into a hairspray smell, but probably you haven’t smelled their hairspray. The Amika scent is hard to pin down. There’s a soft vanilla that reminds me of warm bread pudding and brighter notes of citrus and clover. It’s addictive.
- Have the amika scent anytime
- Cruelty free
- Bottle is easy to tuck away
- Not designed to double as decor
5. Alora Ambiance Reed Diffuser in Verde
Alora is the brand that introduced America to the reed diffuser back in 2000, when two sisters brought the concept of wicking scented oil back from Italy. The Italian heritage is evident in both their scent names and the fragrances themselves.
Many fragrance designers are coming from a background of studying under master French perfumers who have a certain aesthetic. The Alora scents have a more Mediterranean feel to them. They are fresh, and breezy, and more casual.
This diffuser is in the fragrance Verde which is Italian for “citrus.” It starts with melon and tonka bean, with jasmine and green notes. It’s great for any room of the house and the eight ounce glass bottle provides fragrance for around three months.
- Original diffuser brand in America
- Italian inspired scents
- 16 scents to choose from
- Playful bottle designs
- Gift-ready box
- More casual than some
6. Lafco Home Fragrance Mist in Ski House
If the concept of fragrances inspired by rooms of your house interests you, but you’re not into reed diffusers, Lafco offers a room spray in all their signature scents.
This four ounce glass bottle produces a fine mist of concentrated fragrance to fill your home with the smell of Lafco’s House & Home Collection. This one isn’t for your linens though, so try not to spray it directly on fabrics.
Ski House is a woodsy, fireplace-warmed lodge scent with Virginia cedar, leather, and sandalwood at its heart and the brightness of winter pine. If that’s not your thing, try Office (sage, eucalyptus, and juniper berry) or Sun Room (pink grapefruit, apricot nectar, and musk.)
- Attractive colored-glass bottle
- Choice of scents
- Not for use on fabrics
7. L’Occitane Home Perfume Diffuser Kit
I want to say right off the bat, this diffuser kit doesn’t include fragrance oils, so I’m not sure kit is the best word to describe it. However, it is a beautiful hexagonal glass diffuser vessel with the L’Occitane name set on the bottom edge of the glass.
Together with the sold separately L’Occitane diffuser oils, this diffuser and oil still comes to less than most of the other diffusers on this list in price. L’Occitane’s two most famous scents, Lavender and Verbena, are available as 3.3 ounce bottles of diffuser oil.
These are the two L’Occitane fragrances are bright, airy, and complexly floral. If you’re thinking of dipping a toe into luxury home fragrances, this may be a good starting point.
- Lower price
- Classic L’Occitane scents
- Heavy, elegant glass vessel
- Fragrance sold separately
- Limited scent choices
8. Archipelago Diffuser in Luna
Archipelago’s scents are bright and straightforward. They’re layered but not quite as complex as some of the other fragrance brands. It’s all a matter of tastes–some people like four layers and other like 14.
Luna has an energizing start of lemon verbena that deepens to thyme and lavender. The vessel is a chic frosted glass bottle that can fit into any decor.
This size bottle should give you around four to six months of scent. If lemony scents aren’t for you, this style bottle also comes in Charleston (jasmine and tuberose) and Lanai (ginger and pineapple.)
- Bright, less complicated fragrances
- Elegant frosted bottle
- Gift-ready box
- Scents aren’t as multidimensional as others
9. Antica Farmacista Home Ambiance Diffuser in Pompelmo
In addition to the room spray at the top of the list, the very diverse library of Antica Farmacista fragrances are also available as a more constant flow of scent in these glass diffusers, inspired by turn of the century apothecary bottles. The included white birch reeds disperse the scent and work best if carefully flipped every week or so.
Their Pompelmo is a pure, true grapefruit scent. I have a sample of this spray from Antica Farmacista and it smells exactly like cutting through a ripe grapefruit. It’s bright, refreshing and would be perfect for an entryway or kitchen.
All Antica Farmacista diffusers come in a tall, cream colored boxed that make them an elegant gift, especially for a housewarming. Antica Farmacista sent me a White Cedar diffuser (limited scent) last year and it’s still going strong. I will say that it’s more subtle in its fragrance than other diffusers. If you’re looking for something softer, this may be a good choice.
This 100 milliliter bottle is perfect for small spaces that need a boost of fragrance like bathrooms and dorm rooms. For larger spaces, Antica Farmacista offers a 250 milliliter bottle and a 500 milliliter bottle. Many of Antica Farmacista’s more complex scents are available in these sizes including Fig Leaf (Meyer lemon, fig sap, and amber) and Manhattan (vetiver, cognac, satsuma, and bergamot).
- Choice of fragrance and size
- Reeds made of white birch
- Clean bottle design
- Gift-ready box
- No animal testing
- More subtle than others
10. Alora Ambiance Room and Body Spray in Tre
This room spray from Alora doubles has a body spray though they don’t recommend direct skin contact. Alora’s Mediterranean flavor of scent building pairs well with this juicy fig fragrance.
Tre is a warm fragrance like a lazy summer afternoon. It combines amber, deep vanilla, and mandarin. The elegant wooden top lifts up to reveal a metal spritzer head. If floral is a little too traditional room spray for you, Alora has over a dozen other scents including Toscana (earthy and green).
- Spray head is hidden by wooden cap
- Lots of scents to choose from
- Doubles as body spray
- May be too one note for some