Building Ambiance Starts with Scent

a woman using a diffuser

Aromas are one of the most integral parts of our sensory experience for creating comfort in our space. The sense of smell, more so than any other sense, can dramatically shift the mood of a space, and how we feel about it.

Scent, Memories, and Feelings

When we call up memories of influential places or people in our life, we often associate those memories with smells.

Think back to the aroma of cookies baking in a loved one’s kitchen, a favorite perfume or aftershave. Experience how this smell association transports us back to when we first established that core memory.

This is called odor-evoked autobiographical memory, and studies have shown these memories are more vivid than memories cued by other senses.

We can use essential oils in our home airspace to help build an ambiance and create memories through scent-association by season, time of day, and even down to specific rooms.

Think about what feeling you want your visitors to experience when they step into your home—crisp and clean with citruses, or warm and cozy with spices?

Selecting the Perfect Aroma for Your Space

We often decorate rooms in our homes based on the mood we wish to evoke. The essential oils you use in your home can amplify that effect.

  • Bedroom

    The bedroom is like our sanctuary, where we go to unwind, relax, and leave the stresses of the day at the door.

    Calming floral aromas like lavender, geranium, and rose, as well as grounding scents like frankincense and sandalwood help seal out the world and create a feeling of privacy and peace.

    Try this recipe for a relaxing nighttime diffusion.

  • Kitchen

    Kitchens like to feel bright and sparkly. They are often built with large or many windows to provide the space with natural light and a feeling of openness.

    Citrus essential oils like sweet orange, mandarin, lemon, and grapefruit contribute to that bright, cheery experience, and can also help fight odors to keep kitchens clean.

    Add a sparkle to your kitchen with this grapefruit surface cleaning spray.

  • Family Room

    Family rooms tend to be the epicenter of home life, so we want these rooms to have an aroma that can build the happiest of memories.

    Calming floral or resinous aromas like lavender, frankincense, bergamot, and sandalwood help create a relaxed atmosphere for conversations or movie nights, while oils like sweet orange, tangerine, rosemary, peppermint, and eucalyptus are energizing and invigorating for fun game nights.

    Set the mood with this sandalwood and lemon diffusion.

  • Bathrooms

    Keeping a clean bathroom often feels like one of the most important aspects of home care, especially when you’re expecting guests.

    Herbaceous and evergreen aromas like rosemary, pine, eucalyptus, peppermint, and tea tree go a long way to cover unwanted odors and keep your bathrooms feeling spotless.

    Learn how to make your own reed diffusers that are perfect for a clean-feeling bathroom.

Set the Mood with Aromas by the Season

Diffusing different essential oils each season is a great way to bring some of the outdoor vibe into your home space.

  • Spring

    Citrus essential oils, especially lemon and sweet orange, are a go-to cheery spring aroma.

    Diffusing them in your home can help clear away the dark, dreary winter gloom, and making your own DIY cleaning products is a great way to be both health- and environmentally conscious when tackling your spring cleaning.

    This lemon and palmarosa diffusion is perfect for welcoming the spring.

  • Summer

    Exotic floral aromas and light, bright citruses are the way to go for mimicking the sunny, beautiful outdoors during the summer.

    Middle notes like jasmine, neroli, and rose blended with uplifting tangerine, lime, bergamot, and mandarin can make your home feel like a summer garden in full bloom.

    Make your own summer floral room mist.

  • Fall

    Fall is the season of citrus and spice; sweet orange blended with cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, cardamom, and ginger creates a cheering and cozy atmosphere in any room.

    A few drops of cinnamon added to fall decorations like pinecones and wreaths adds to the ambiance of autumn décor.

    Nothing says fall like mulled cider.

  • Winter

    Winter can be mentally and emotionally challenging with the colder, darker days and the stresses of the holiday season.

    Herbaceous and evergreen essential oils are soothing and peaceful, reminiscent of walking through a beautiful forest, and can bring that winter peace inside without all the cold.

    Peppermint, pine, cedarwood, and juniper are perfect winter aromas.

    Spread the holiday cheer throughout your home with this wintertime diffusion.

Further Reading

Looking for inspiration for how to enhance your space with aroma? Find recipes, tips, and tricks at or at @auracacia on TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook!

Click to See Our Sources

“The functional neuroanatomy of odor evoked autobiographical memories cued by orders and words” by A. Arshamian et al., Neuropsychologia

“Proust nose best: Odors are better cues of autobiographical memory” by S. Chu and J.J. Downes, Memory & Cognition


Betsy Miller, M.S.c,

Betsy Miller is an aromatherapy educator and herbalist with Aura Cacia and Frontier Co-op. She completed her master’s degree in herbal medicine from the Maryland University of Integrative Health (MUIH), and her certificate in aromatherapy from the American College of Healthcare Sciences (ACHS).

Betsy has been in clinical practice for over 15 years, and is currently adjunct faculty at MUIH and co-director at the Mid-Atlantic School of Herbalism. In addition to her work Betsy loves gardening, tending to her houseplant obsession, and going on adventures with her husband and two sons.