I'm a self-professed candle connoisseur: At any given hour, I could have three or four going in my living room. I wholeheartedly believe they can set the tone for the season and make any space feel instantly homey. I may live in South Florida, far, far away from changing leaves and apple picking, but gosh darnit, if I have anything to do with it, my apartment is going to smell like a cinnamon-spiced pumpkin apple pie baking in a orchard once autumn rolls in. If you share my candle devotion, you'll want to pick up one of these five fragrances that will give you all the feels of the season.
If you're looking for intense, room-filling fragrance:
Pumpkin Apple 3-Wick Candle at Bath & Body Works, $12.50 (on sale)
Fall is upon us, which could only mean that the scent of fresh-picked apples mixed with a pumpkin pie is what your home needs (trust me, it does). I always splurge on Bath & Body Works candles because they are strong, and if I'm spending more than $2.99 on a candle, it better start filling my room with a luscious scent before I even light the wicks. My only gripe with the brand is that their candles burn quickly, so if you plan on having this lit all day/night long, you might want to stock up when BBW is having a sale. Unlike some of their other heavier pumpkin scents, this one is crisp and not cloying.
Spruce Cuttings at Voluspa, $18
You know that amazing, soul-satisfying scent of Douglas fir cuttings that fills your nostrils the second you cross the threshold of a Christmas tree tent? That is what this candle gives you. If you have an artificial tree and are looking for a way to pump that evergreen scent throughout the house, or have a real tree and are just a complete scent maximalist like I am, look no further. Slow burning with a wide-spreading fragrance (this was in my living room and I could smell it's piney scent in my downstairs foyer...score!), it's well worth it's $18 price tag.
If you're looking for elegant, subtle scents:
Sahara Spice Classic Candle at Nest Fragrances, $40
Nest candles make me feel fancy, and I like to feel fancy in the fall. They're a top pick for me because they burn relatively slowly (i.e., they'll last longer) and their fragrances are subtle and not over-the-top holiday-ish. Sahara Spice is sweet but spicey, and the complex scent made my living room smell like the lobby of a luxe hotel. It'd make a really thoughtful housewarming or hostess gift.
If you don't have a fireplace but wish you could hear a crackling fire (without turning on Netflix):
Pine Bough Pure Radiance Candle at Yankee Candle, Starting at $15.99
I'm very sad to report that this South Floridan does not have a fireplace. This is not something that bothers me typically between the months of February and September, but once the holidays roll around, it's an aching hole in my heart. Enter the crackling candle. When lit, the wood wick sounds like what I could only imagine a roaring fire would sound like to a hard-of-hearing person (it's subtle) in a lucky northerner's living room, and it just might replace the Yule Log on loop this year while opening presents. Also, it smells really good.
If you want a candle that feels appropriate for the season, but isn't blatantly holiday-ish:
Tocca Candle in Bianca at Blue Mercury, $38
I get it. Blatant fall and winter scents aren't for everyone. Also, just when you're making a dent in the wax, it's time to store away your pumpkin scents and make your list of resolutions for the year to come. Tocca's Bianca candle smells vaguely of a magical winter wonderland, but could definitely be burned throughout the year without guests thinking you're having a hard time letting go of Christmas...in March. At about $37, it's not by any means a budget option, but it is incredibly aromatic and carries its weight. Case in point: My S.O. came home about two hours after I blew out the flame on this one, and his first observation upon crossing the threshold was "Wow, it's...fragrant in here." This candle wins.
If you want a budget-friendly alternative:
Glade Jar Candle Air Freshener in Wondrous Autumn Nights at Jet.com, $3.49
It's hard to pinpoint precisely what this candle smells like, but the best I can do is a bonfire of sweet flowers and a hint of patchouli. It's a little floral and a little woodsy. For under $5, it's certainly the most wallet-flattering option, though be warned that it throws fragrance around as effectively as a one-armed sloth. Sure, if you put your nose right up to the candle when it's burning, you'll catch a whiff of scent, but if you want your whole room to smell of an "autumn night," you'll have to have a few of these going in all corners to do the trick.