A Home Staging Expert Explains Why Lemon Is The Best Scent For Open Houses

Holistic interior designer Terri Cumming, also known as @healthyhomebydesign on TikTok, shared a video with her best advice for using aromas to quickly sell a home. Scent is a common realtor's trick to make residences smell more inviting and cozy, but Cumming explains why she believes some people miss the mark with their fragrances. "It used to be that people were baking pies and cookies and all that kind of stuff to make it smell homey, which does appeal to a lot of people in certain ways," she said in her TikTok video. "Then people started doing candles and different things to have certain scents in the home." Cumming then explains that sugary sweet candles can be overpowering, distracting, and suspicious, but a fresh and clean lemon scent is a classic way to make your home feel clean and familiar.  

A natural lemon aroma is a creative solution that visitors and prospective homebuyers won't be able to see straight through. Here's why Cumming says candles and fragrances aren't such a great idea when staging a home, and why being discreet is ideal when making your home smell great.

Lemon is familiar and clean

According to Terri Cumming, candles aren't a great idea for staging homes because they may seem like a suspicious attempt to hide unpleasant odors. This is especially true for other visible scent producers like diffusers and wax melters. Beyond just looking like a cheap attempt to mask odors, Cumming explains that these fragrance tools can be confusing to the senses. "When someone walks in your home, and you have scents going on, what's happening subconsciously is their brain is just trying to identify what that scent is, and they're not paying attention to your home," she said. She explains that, unlike other fragrances, lemon is quickly and easily identified by the brain, allowing guests to explore without distractions.

In fact, Cumming says lemon has a subtle, pleasant, and clean association in most people's minds that can help you sell your home. To discreetly diffuse a citrus scent in homes, she says to apply a few drops of lemon essential oil onto lightbulbs in lamps around the house. This way, the gentle heat from the bulb will release a continuous lemon fragrance without raising any red flags to visitors. 

A little lemon inspires big moves

Scent plays a significant role in our moods, memories, nostalgia, and perception of a space. When hosting an open house, it's best to stick to natural, subtle scents as much as possible, as these are generally inoffensive, well-liked, and tied to positive visualizations, like enjoying a glass of lemonade in a clean summer kitchen. Lemon is certainly one of the best fragrances to help your home sell faster, but not just because it smells fresh. According to a study by the University of Sussex, lemon scent can also improve confidence, self-esteem, and positive thinking (via Science Daily). Citrus is also well-known to be energizing, which may inspire your buyers to make a move. When a place makes you feel vibrant and great about yourself, why wouldn't you want to stay there forever?

If you're not a fan of citrus scents or you want something that feels cozier and in-season, try a simple vanilla, chamomile, light pine, or warm cinnamon essential oil. Whatever you do, remember to keep the fragrance light and avoid setting up too many visible candles, air fresheners, or diffusers. When in doubt, a clean home without a fresh scent is leagues better than one suffocated by "triple chocolate sugar cookie" candles.