Smart Tips From a Home Fragrance Expert

As the nose behind countless high-end blends, Rayda Vega has good scents to spare. Here, she shares tips on infusing your rooms with unique olfactory charm.

Photo by Christopher Sturman

Why bother scenting our homes, anyway?
Fragrance is an accessory. It adds depth and character. And it allows you to give each space in your home a different feel.

How did you get started in this business?
While studying sociology at the University of Chicago, I discovered that I was fascinated with lab work but completely bored sitting at a desk. When I moved to New York, I answered a random ad in the Times to work at a fragrance lab. Then I apprenticed with a master perfumer and went on to become a perfumer myself. I worked for major fragrance companies. Then a few years ago I went out on my own. Companies hire me to create scents for their products—candles, diffusers, perfumes, shampoos.

Are you on team candle or team diffuser?
Both—they just have different uses. With diffusers, you can set them down and forget about them, so they’re good for continual, overall ambience. Some diffuser packaging is ugly, but you can pour the liquid into a pretty glass container of your own. Candles are best for an intimate event, like dinner or a bath, because they’re not only about the scent. The light they give off sets a mood, too.



How do you figure out what fragrance is right for each room?
Think of it like music. In a living room, you’d usually want soft background music. A subtle floral is the scent equivalent to that. I have Joya’s Quince & Heliotrope Petals diffuser ($76, in my living room. But for a party where you’d turn on lively music, you’d want a happy, social fragrance that gets noticed, like Joya’s Luscious Vanilla Dragon-fruit candle ($25, For the kitchen, something that’s a little bit mouthwatering—apple, fresh pear, or thyme—works well. Avoid florals here. They’ll get in the way of food aromas. I like Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Basil Soy candle ($10, For the bathroom, juicy grapefruit, crisp linen, or the candle version of your favorite perfume.