DIY Home Fragrance (like a Williams Sonoma Store)

04/12/2013. This post may contain affiliate links. Read my Disclosure Policy.

Homemade Home Fragrance- just like a William's Sonoma Store!

I love William’s Sonoma!

I make a point to stop in every time I am at the mall just to stroll through the beautiful store and smell the wonderful things they are making.  Sometimes I can get a bite of something yummy or even a free little glass of cider or a cappuccino.  I can close my eyes and pretend to be Ina Garten baking up some lovely tarte tatin in my perfect kitchen…….  and then the children knock something wildly expensive off the shelf and I leave the sunny garden in the Hamptons and high tail it out of that store.

One thing I love about William’s Sonoma is that is always smells so lovely.  So occasionally I am a copycat and make their little simmering fragrances at home.

This is nice to do when you have company or you are spending the day cleaning or cooking… Just a nice little treat to make the house smell incredible and it is so simple and cheap to do.

Really you just toss a bunch of ingredients into a pan and simmer on the stove.  I have used a crock pot too if you are nervous about using the stove.

William’s Sonoma use different fragrances depending on the season and what they have on hand.  If you happen to stop by a store- take a look at the stove and ask what they have cooking.  The last time I was in they had lemon, lime, orange and cinnamon going.

I have also seen them simmering BBQ sauce which is not really what you think of for home fragrance but dang if it didn’t make me hungry that day!  (I am going to try it the next time I have a BBQ. )

You can add just about anything you have on hand- whatever fragrances you like really.  I used whole fruit but I have heard of people having success with just using the peels of the fruit.  I always find this to be a great way to use up any fruit that might be on the verge of going bad.  My orange below wasn’t looking so tasty so that was a perfect way to use it up.  You can use essential oils instead of fresh ingredients or dried stuff… just open the pantry and see what you have!

Here are (3) quick recipes that I used recently to get the ball rolling:

Homemade Home Fragrance

Lemon, rosemary and lavender 

I have a Rosemary plant and it is one of my favorite scents and this goes with just about everything.  You probably want to use some sort of citrus to get that nice fresh, clean smell as the base and then compliment the citrus with whatever you like.  I used a little lavender essential oils but vanilla from your pantry would be perfect too!

Orange, cinnamon, clove and vanilla

This is a really yummy scent for the holidays especially and you can add a little cranberry to make it more festive.  I don’t make this often because cinnamon sticks are kind of expensive but you can always use powdered cinnamon or maybe a touch of apple cider and the orange and vanilla are delicious together.  If you do use cinnamon sticks make sure to break it up.  I use a mallet and give it a good bash to get it into a few pieces.

Lime, coconut oil and vanilla

This is a bit more summery to me and I love lime and coconut together.  I think mint would be a really nice addition or thyme or whatever you like.  The coconut oil and vanilla give off the strongest scent in my opinion- so this one I can smell throughout the house.

So just fill a saucepan about 1/2 way with water.  (The less water the stronger the fragrance).   Add your ingredients in and simply let it simmer for as long as you want.  There is no need for perfect measurements- I usually add several drops of essential oils or use a tablespoon of vanilla or coconut oil.  Really it just depends on how strong you want the smell.

Other Idea:

Chopped apples and 2 tablespoons of cinnamon

Cranbberries with cloves and cinnamon

Homemade fragrances

Once you are done with the fragrance you can put it in a jar in the fridge to use again or put it in a freezer container if you won’t use it for awhile.

Once you want to smell something lovely again just pull it out pop back in the pan to simmer.


And if you decide to try this let us know what combination of ingredients you use!

A little tip:

  • You want to bring the fragrance to a boil to really release the fragrance and then reduce the heat and let simmer.  If you use the crock pot, I like to bring it to a boil in a pan and then transfer to the crock pot on low heat.
  • Do not leave this unattended as you occasionally need to refill the water.  If you need to step out just turn the heat off completely and you can always turn it back on when you get home.

And here are a few other articles you might enjoy:


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{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Sylvia April 12, 2013 at 12:43 PM

I love Ina Garten and Williams-Sonoma, too! Thank you for these tips. I have a mini-crockpot that just might be the perfect size to use.

Leanne April 12, 2013 at 12:59 PM

Charlene, I love your posts like this. Thank you!

Charlene April 12, 2013 at 1:22 PM

Sylvia, I don’t get nearly as much fragrance but maybe because I put it on low. You can try high heat and see if that works better- just make sure to bring to a boil and then transfer to the Crock :)

Heather April 13, 2013 at 4:06 PM

Check the food storage aisle of the 99cent only stores for the Ball freezer containers. I recently found 2 packs of the Ball quart size freezer containers. Super deal!

Mikaela November 5, 2013 at 2:44 AM

How many times can i use it once I’ve done it the first time?

Amy May 10, 2014 at 8:17 AM

I have the same question as Mikaela. How many times can you use it (boil it again)?

Chris Buske June 20, 2014 at 7:31 AM

My wife and I like all the above ingredients, but sometimes want a bit more outdoorsy to go in… so we use fresh pine/spruce needles to give it that clean forest addition.

Charlene June 20, 2014 at 11:36 AM

Oh great idea Chris!

cynthia July 27, 2014 at 1:46 PM

Absolutely wonderful … thanks so much

Nancy July 27, 2014 at 2:05 PM

I find cinnamon sticks in with the “mexican spices” area of my grocery store. They are in cellophane bags and usually only a dollar or two. Same thing for oregano, cumin, red pepper flakes…WAY less than in the jars on the regular spice isle.

anna August 7, 2014 at 8:31 AM

Has anyone tried this? Does it really work?

Diana October 2, 2014 at 6:47 AM

Yes, it works ! I’ve used all sorts of fruits, spices and herbs. In the fall, can’t beat cinnamon, cloves and oranges and even some nutmeg. Lemons and fresh lavender are great- and if you have fresh mint it is a winner too.

Carol November 30, 2014 at 3:55 PM

I recently came up with a very similar idea: I went to my local thrift store, and found three “Little Dipper” crock pots. They do not have a removable crock, no settings, just on and off, and just a plastic lid, but since I’m not using it to actually cook, no big deal. They cost 1/3 of new!!
I fill with water, add a small amount of alcohol (the drinking kind, to stave off any molding, as I use this for several days to a week of ‘simmering’.) BTW: I ONLY use this when I’m home, turning it off (unplugging it) if I leave for any reason.
Then I add my goodies: I usually use: orange peel, cinnamon sticks, clove buds, lavender flowers, and rosemary leaves. (it’s kind of a thieves aroma, and hopefully helps keep sickness at bay while smelling wonderful!) This is my “go-to” fragrance, but I’m thinking about using fir and pine needles, cinnamon, clove buds for a ‘Christmas-y’ smell.

Sharon S December 5, 2014 at 11:13 AM

I have tried lemon, rosemary and vanilla but I don’t smell the lemon! What am I doing wrong? I use 2 sprigs rosemary, 1 1/2 lemons, a little less than 1/2 tsp. vanilla and about 2 c. water…..I tried increasing the lemons, decreasing the vanilla, decreasing the water….still don’t smell the lemon! HELP any suggestions?

Courtney December 28, 2014 at 8:13 PM

Lovely smells but PLEASE don’t use REFINED coconut oil. There is NO smell and it’s pointless in all aspects of coconut oil! Only use and buy UNREFINED ORGANIC coconut oil!

katrina January 6, 2015 at 2:12 PM

Yes, don’t leave your stuff simmering and leave the house. I ruined a new pot doing that. Thank God my husband’s was home when it started smoking. ..

Charlene January 6, 2015 at 2:18 PM

Hi Katrina- I think I mentioned that in the post. Yes for sure never, ever leave anything on the stove cooking when you leave the house. You can use the crock pot if you need to be in and out :) Glad he caught it!

Michelle May January 15, 2015 at 7:44 AM

Sharon S: Try using lemon essential oil, which has a much stronger scent!

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