What is scent-scaping and why do experts believe we should all be doing it in our homes?

Experts share insights into the latest scent trend to explain how and why we should be 'fragrance layering' throughout the house

home fragrances on a living room table to show scent-scaping in a home
(Image credit: Getty Images | Puhimec)

Our sense of smell is incredibly powerful and therefore a sensory element that should never be underestimated when it comes to creating the right atmosphere in our homes.

The latest scent-scaping trend is a great way to embrace fragrance layering throughout the house to not only make a house smell great but also ensure every space appeals to the right senses by evoking different emotions in different rooms.

Utilising the best scented candles, scented diffusers and essential oils you can use scent to help you switch between work, family and leisure time as you move throughout your home to create clear zones with distinctions between activities, time and moods. 

Similar to emotive colour trends you can also use scent to signify seasonal changes to make a home feel cosy in winter or light, airy and refreshed for spring. A signature scent is another way to add the perfect finishing touch to any room to enhance the atmosphere.

What is scent-scaping?

Scent-scaping is the art of differentiating one space from another in your home via the power of scent. Given the impact fragrance can have on the ambience of each room it can play a hugely significant role in how each individual space is used. 

In exactly the same as how the best interior paint colours used in different rooms can set the tone and create an ambience specifically for that room, scent-scaping allows your sense of smell to relate to each differentiating area of your home.

"A play on the term ‘landscape’, scent-scaping is creating distinctive environments or territories in your home through fragrance," explains master perfumer Ruth Mastenbroek from Ruth Mastenbroek Perfumer London. "You may choose to create a different atmosphere in the living room than you would the kitchen, the bedroom or the bathroom."

Subconsciously we make associations between the scent of a room and our purpose while we are there. So fragrance can also help us achieve a specific outcome more effectively. "For example, if we want our living room to be an inviting and comforting space, then it makes sense to choose scents that support this desire," Ruth explains.

glass coffee table filled with scented candles used for scent-scaping

(Image credit: Future)

What are the benefits of scent-scaping?

“Each smell we encounter is processed in the same part of the brain as our memories, emotions, and associative learning, meaning the connection between fragrance and emotion is powerful," explains Taylor Perlis, fragrance evaluator at Yankee Candle. "In fact, we are 100 times more likely to remember something we smell, over something we touch or hear." 

"Selecting a specific fragrance for each space in your home will enable the special moments experienced in each of those rooms to have a more lasting impact, as you will be reminded of those memories each time you enter the room and inhale the signature fragrance.”

"Separating these spaces physically by using a specific scent in each can separate them in our brains too," says Ruth. "Making use of the positivity that is triggered by different fragrances for different activities."

Here's how to fragrance your home to create a signature scent for each room...

How to apply scent-scaping to your home

When determining how to use scents around your home it's important to have a clear outline of how you want to feel in each room because that emotion will determine and influence your choice of scent.

"Our sense of smell works by stimulating smell receptors in the nose, which then send messages through the nervous system and onto the part of the brain that controls emotions, the limbic system," explains Jo Kellett founder of From the Seed, and aromatherapist and essential oils expert on behalf of Tisserand Aromatherapy. 

Here are the scents and fragrance notes experts recommend for every room in the house...

Best fragrances for kitchens

white kitchen countertop with a home fragrance diffuser to show scent scaping a home

(Image credit: Getty Images | Liudmila Chernetska)

As a room that naturally stirs up many different scents throughout the day, from freshly brewed coffee in the morning to an aromatic spiced dish for dinner, the best scents for kitchens are fresh fragrances that don't overpower. 

"When it comes to the kitchen, fresh and zesty fragrances are most impactful as they can cut through the intensity of cooking smells," says Taylor. "I would recommend opting for one which balances zesty, bold citrus notes with a touch of fruity sweetness."

Best fragrance for bedrooms

plum coloured bedroom with dresser beside a bed with a candle to demonstrate scent-scaping in a bedroom

(Image credit: Future)

As a personal sanctuary, it is imperative that your feel calm and at peace in a bedroom, which is why the best bedroom paint colours are also so key for setting the right tone. The overall decor should be tailored to aid a restorative mindset and achieve the best night's sleep possible.

"We would recommend avoiding anything too fresh and invigorating in the bedroom, as this is a place you are likely to rest and sleep in,' says Ruth. "So avoid anything too citrus (lemon, lime, bergamot, grapefruit, orange), or minty. Instead, you could opt for floral notes of jasmine or neroli, mingling with a touch of citrus, vanilla and ambers. Herbal concoctions can help calm the mind and bring peace before bed," 

"Lavender is known for its sleep-enhancing properties, so a fragrance which incorporates that botanical aroma is recommended," says Taylor.

Best fragrance for living rooms

Living room coffee table with scented candle and diffuser to show examples of scent-scaping a living room

(Image credit: Getty Images | Irina Belova)

Being a busy room but a space that needs to hold an air of relaxation the living room is tricky when it comes to selecting the ideal home fragrance. "For the living room, something a little cosier and more ambient is appropriate," says Taylor. "The design of the candle itself is also something to consider in this space also."

"In the living room, go for a fragrance that matches your interiors," suggested Ruth. "It could be lighter and fresher floral or woody scents to match your Scandi neutral tones; rose, peony, sandalwood and musks would be perfect.

Best fragrances for hallways

Hallway with a console table with lamp and candles to show scent-scaping in a hallway

(Image credit: Future)

As the entrance to your home, this scent needs to make a good first impression - much like the best hallway paint colour. "This is the space in which you welcome guests, so the aroma should be inviting and not too overpowering," Taylor suggests. "A fresh and breezy fragrance works perfectly in this part of the home."

"I’m imagining a warm and enveloping scent in the hallway," says Ruth. "woods, patchouli, ambers and a burst of citrus would be perfect, welcoming you home as you enter the front door."

Best fragrance for home offices

dark grey home office with brown leather chair

(Image credit: Future | Dominic Blackmore)

The home office should be a place of focus therefore it pays to welcome a fragrance which doesn’t overwhelm, the last thing you want is a scent that acts as a distraction.

"Subtly is the name of the game here," says Taylor. "So I would opt for an aroma which feels as though you’re bringing the outdoors in. Anything with the fragrance of evergreens works well.”

How should you scent scape within a small home?

Don't let limited space limit the potential to embrace the scent-scaping ideology. “Focus on more subtle aromas in each space so that they don’t overlap and overwhelm," says Taylor. "Light, fresh fragrances, with more complex and defining undertones, are the best options for scent-scaping in smaller homes.” 

Tamara Kelly
Lifestyle Editor

Tamara is a highly experienced homes and interiors journalist, with a career spanning 19 years. Now the Lifestyle Editor of womanandhome.com, she has spent the last 16 years working with the style teams at Country Homes & Interiors and Ideal Home, and it’s with these award-winning interiors teams that she gained a wealth of knowledge and honed her skills and passion for shopping, styling and writing about every aspect of lifestyle and interiors.

With a keen eye for the latest interior trends, there's not a lot she doesn't know about home decor – whether it’s what colour we should be painting our living rooms next season, or if the latest 'must-have' buys are actually worth investing in.

A true homes and interiors expert, Tamara has served as an ambassador for leading interior brands on multiple occasions, including appearing on Matalan’s The Show and presenting at top interiors trend events such as the Autumn Fair and Spring Fair.