How to Find the Best Home Fragrance Based on Your Favorite Perfume

Candles and pinecone décor on a mantle

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In 2007, I started using Stella McCartney's first scent, Stella, on my 13th birthday—the combination of delicate, classic English rose and warm amber has felt like a veil of comfort ever since, though now it has to make room on the shelf for my grown-up go-to. I'd been on the lookout for a couple of years, but nothing felt right until I found Byredo's 1996, a fragrance inspired by fashion photographers Inez van Lamsweerde & Vinoodh Matadin's ethereal and hyper-realist, yet vaguely and darkly erotic photograph, Kirsten 1996. With leather, patchouli, iris, black pepper, amber, and vanilla notes, it's the most complex, bold, earthy, and intriguing yet equally romantic, intimate, and dreamy fragrance I've ever come across. I don't feel fully dressed until I have it on, and love these scents so much I wish my home smelled like them.

Yet, mimicking those scents in candle and diffuser form isn't so simple. And as someone who has an emotional response to sensory experiences, I've been frustrated that I can't find the best home fragrance to capture these comforting moods and aromas. So, I decided to do the research myself once and for all. 

Below, use this guide to steer you in the right direction of the best home fragrance. First, get to know the difference between perfumes, candles, and oil diffusers. Then discover a range of fragrance types—from woodsy to citrus—to turn your home into the sanctuary you want it to be. Get ready to luxuriate and discover your best scent for home.

Perfumes, Candles, and Oil Diffusers

Perfumes

Most perfumes are a mix of ethanol, water, and different aromas that evaporate at different rates, which is where the idea of "notes" come in. Top notes are the assertive, sharp, and immediate smells that evaporate the quickest—they give you the initial impression of a perfume. Middle notes are best described as the heart of the fragrance, softening both top and base notes. Base notes are the foundation of the perfume and last longest. This complex layer of aromas can make it difficult to describe and place the scent of perfumes. 

Candles

If you're wondering why you can't just follow a simple DIY candle recipe to repurpose your favorite bottle of perfume into a candle, there are a few reasons. Because perfumes are made from alcohol and oil, the wax won't capture the top notes as well, nor will it release them with heat (which can also give the wax a funky texture). Most importantly, alcohol is flammable, which can be a fire hazard or mean that it burns off very quickly. As far as fragrance goes, remember that the candle's scent will fade after the fire is extinguished. 

Oil Diffusers

Oil diffusers function more like a long-wearing perfume, dispersing fragrance throughout a room. Room sprays also disperse fragrance similar to a perfume, meaning the scent won't last as long.

In fragrance-speak, perfumes are layered with a variety of scents and are referred to as "notes." Typically, a fragrance features top, middle, and base notes.

Find Your Best Home Fragrance

Woody

Earthy and Deep: Some earthy scents have that classic, fresh-cut grass smell while others are heavier, featuring dewy, damp, mossy notes. 

If You Like Woody Perfumes, You'll Like These Home Fragrances

1970 Black Musk And Patchouli Scented Candle
Bella Freud Parfum 1970 Scented Candle $62
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The Notes: Frankincense, patchouli, sandalwood, and black musk are inspired by incense-heavy scents of the 1970s. 

Dark Rum Candle
Malin+Goetz Natural Wax Candle, Dark Rum $55
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The Notes: Bergamot, plum, leather, rum, amber, patchouli, and vanilla. It's slightly boozy and sweet, which rounds out earthier notes. 

teakwood and tobacco reed diffuser
P.F. Candle Co. Teakwood and Tobacco Reed Diffuser $24
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The Notes: Leather, black pepper, tobacco, orange, berry, sandalwood, and patchouli. It's the perfect blend of both spicy and woody scents. 

Scarpa Candle
Yield Design Scarpa Candle $38
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The Notes: Palo santo, leather, and vetiver (a grass similar to lemongrass). If you love smells that bring in the outdoors, this is for you.

Fruity

Juicy and Light: As an expansive category, fruity scents range from wintery and spicy to more tropical and playful blends.

If You Like Fruity Perfumes, You'll Like These Home Fragrances

Lip Balm Scented Candle
Anya Hindmarch Smells Lip Balm scented candle $75 $38
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The Notes: Cherry, plum, pomegranate, jasmine, cherry blossom, iris, rose, vanilla, tonka bean, and musk. It's playfully nostalgic, like a nod to first kisses and sweet, cherry lip balm—just a little more grown-up. 

Sea Urchin Terra Di Capri Large Reed Diffuser
Riccio Caprese Sea Urchin Terra Di Capri Large Reed Diffuser $210
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The Notes: Orange, vanilla, and white musk, for a soft, fruity, and refreshing fragrance. 

Jurassic Flower Candle
Frédéric Malle Jurassic Flower Candle $85
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The Notes: Magnolia, peach, lavender, and apricot. Uplifting, delicate, and juicy, this floral fragrance is perfect for spring. 

Le Feu De L'eau Bleu Nuit Candle
M.I.H Jeans Le Feu De L'eau Bleu Nuit Candle $62
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The Notes: Blackcurrant, redcurrant, bergamot, wood, and cinnamon. This floral fragrance is perfect for winter festivities. 

Spicy

Bold and Mysterious: Spicy fragrances are marked by sultry, warm, flirty notes. They can be bold, mysterious, and intriguing, and soothing and comforting. Spicy scents also tend to overlap with other fragrance families, including gourmand, woody, and floral scents (more on that to come.)

If You Like Spicy Perfumes, You'll Like These Home Fragrances

Byredo brand scented candle
Byredo Peyote Poem Fragranced Candle $85
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The Notes: Clove buds, juniper berries, fir, hyacinth, tonka beans, black amber, patchouli, and vanilla. It's reminiscent of the outdoors, with an air of mystery and spice (but not too much). 

Vanilla & Hemlock Candle
Starling Project Vanilla & Hemlock Candle $55
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The Notes: Vanilla and hemlock. Sweet from the vanilla but spicy from the hemlock; reminiscent of spiced carrot. 

Diptyque 34 Le Redoute Scented Candle
Diptyque 34 Le Redouté Scented Candle $85
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The Notes: Cinnamon, clove, orange, roses, cedar, and amber. The sweet roses scents give it a traditional floral vibe, but there's also something spicy and earthy about it. 

Byron Classic Candle, Woody Cognac
Ciré Trudon Byron Classic Candle $95
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The Notes: Black pepper, mugwort, saffron, cognac, iris, vetiver, patchouli, cedar, sandalwood, leather.

Aquatic

Crisp and Clean: Inspired by rainfall, an ocean breeze, a blanket of fog, crisp mountain air, freshly laundered linens, or a day at the beach, aquatic fragrances tend to be more abstract and evocative. They can encompass anything characterized by marine notes. 

If You Like Aquatic Perfumes, You'll Like These Home Fragrances

The Quiet Light Glass Candle
Apotheke Fragrance The Quiet Light Glass Candle $55
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The Notes: Apple, chamomile, coriander, lychee, mandarin, peach, plum, rose, and sandalwood.

Cotton Poplin Room Spray 250ml
Byredo Cotton Poplin Room Spray $120
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The Notes: Blue chamomile, linen, white cedarwood, and sweet musk. It's subtle, making it the perfect room spray to linger and be your signature smell.

Big Sur Cone Incense
Square Trade Goods Co. Big Sur Cone Incense $18
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The Notes: Cedar, sandalwood, musk, smoke, and sea salt air. Like its namesake, it smells like Big Sur. 

Women's Calone 17 Vintage Candle
Le Labo Calone 17 Vintage Candle $65
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The Notes: Marine notes, geranium, and amber. It's light and easy breezy with some light floral notes. 

Gourmand

Sweet and Warm: The Gourmand fragrance family refers to anything that smells like a fresh batch of baked goods—think vanilla, chocolate, coffee.

These fragrances tend to be seasonally specific, evoking yummy fall baked goods and winter coziness. The best gourmand scents won't be sickly sweet, so be careful not to overdo it!

If You Like Gourmand Perfumes, You'll Like These Home Fragrances

Sticky Cake Perfume
Le Labo Anis 24 $75
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The Notes: Star anise. Surprisingly light for a gourmand, this candle smells like a slightly nutty, fresh almond pastry. 

TROCADERO SCENTED CANDLE
Maison la Bougie Trocadero $55
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The Notes: Almonds, red amber, and florals. Perfect for a refined, sophisticated setting. It's creamy, slightly nutty, and perfectly sweet. 

Private Blend Tobacco Vanille Scented Candle
Tom Ford Beauty Private Blend Tobacco Vanille Scented Candle $98
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The Notes: Tonka Bean, vanilla, dried fruits, tobacco blossom, and cocoa. Creamy, rich, warm, and comforting, this scent is like a warm, comforting embrace.

Scented candle with sunrise graphic
Wary Meyers Lovely, Honey $29
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The Notes: Honey, Cocobolo wood, and amber. Warm, cozy, sweet, and delightful, just like a spoonful of golden dripping honey. 

Citrus

Refreshing and Aromatic: Citrus fragrances are marked by their fresh, uplifting scents. These scents often smells herbaceous, and feel rejuvenating, reminiscent of summer sunshine or a satisfying morning yoga class. 

If You Like Citrus Perfumes, You'll Like These Home Fragrances

Terrazzo Large Scented Candle
Tom Dixon Terrazzo Large Scented Candle $190
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The Notes: Bergamot lemon, green fig, guaiac wood (from the palo santo tree), and vetivert. This candle smells like a Mediterranean vacation.

Olous Aromatique Room Spray
Aesop Olous Aromatique Room Spray $55
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The Notes: Grapefruit, floral jasmine, cedar, and cardamom. Spray your room with a few spritzes and transform it into a fresh, slightly spicy sanctuary. 

Boy Smells Mssr. Blanchy $32
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The Notes: Peppercorn, ginger, grapefruit, and tanned leather. It's pretty dry and spicier than other citrus examples. 

Medium Alloy Candle
Jo Malone Lime Basil & Mandarin Scent Surround Diffuser $98
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The Notes: Lime, peppery basil, and white thyme. In a word, zesty. 

Floral

Fresh and Powdery: Floral perfumes are probably the most traditional and popular scents. For a classic example, look no further than Chanel No. 5.

If You Like Floral Perfumes, You'll Like These Home Fragrances

Rose Diffuser
Diptyque Roses Hourglass Diffuser $180
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The Notes: Centifolia rose and Damask rose. It truly smells like a rose that's been freshly plucked from the garden.

Loose Lips Candle 240g
Byredo Loose Lips Candle $85
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The Notes: Rosewater, violet, morello cherry, rice powder, and orris butter. It was inspired by that iconic, nostalgic lipstick-smell from the '80s, though its floral notes are most dominant.

Ortensia Scented Candle
Fornasetti Ortensia Scented Candle $215
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The Notes: Lemon, bergamot, mandarin, pine sap, samphire, among others. The white rose and jasmine aromas mix with the fruity, aromatic, and earthy tones, for a fresh floral scent. 

Lavender and Bergamot Refreshing Mist
Woodlot Lavender and Bergamot Refreshing Mist $22 $17
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The Notes: Lavender floral water, witch hazel, bergamot essential oil, and lavender essential oil. This room spray is thoroughly rejuvenating. 

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