Essential Reading for Homemakers: 10 Books to Cultivate a Beautiful, Simple, and Purposeful Home

These 10 books will make you a better homemaker! I’ve read many homemaking books, and these are some of my favourites for decluttering, decorating, routines, and intentional living at home. They’d make an excellent addition to any homemaker’s reading list. Books about homemaking

One of my greatest pleasures in life is keeping house. I don’t mean cleaning, necessarily (especially not cleaning bathrooms). I mean all of it–the holistic art of making a home, that hub and center for all our comings and goings and life pursuits. Homemaking is satisfying because it has direct bearing on the lives of the people who matter most to us. It’s rhythmic work, and challenging, and provides scope for creativity.

Every now and then I pick up a new book on housekeeping or decorating or organizing: these books give me a fresh flow of ideas and make me better at my job. Today I’ve compiled ten of my top homemaking books for you. I love recommending these because they’re both useful and enjoyable to read cover-to-cover, not just skim.

If you want to dig a little deeper into the old-fashioned art of homemaking and find some new ideas you can use today, read on…

10 Best Homemaking Books for an Intentional Home

1. The Hidden Art of Homemaking by Edith Schaeffer

First published in 1971, this book is a unique gem that’s unlike any homemaking book I’ve ever read. The “Art” in the title is literal: Schaeffer explores how we can weave the arts of music, drama, painting, decorating, and more into our homes and daily lives. It’s about using your creative gifts and developing new ones, not with a goal of perfection or performance, but to bring delight to yourself, your family, and your own Maker.

2. Simple Abundance by Sarah Ban Breathnach

This book is meant as a daily read; it contains 365 short essays, nicely grouped by topics and seasons. Together, the essays aim to help you cultivate beauty, order, and gratitude in your life and home. There are countless ideas for savoring the seasons and making traditions, as well as finding contentment in daily lives and tasks.

3. Your Simple Home Handbook by Elsie Callender

It’s hard to enjoy time at home when your space is jam-packed with clutter. If you can get that clutter out the door then your home can breathe, and you’ll be more at peace in it. I wrote this book as a whole-house walk-through to help you hone your perspective of everything you own. The goal is to keep, as William Morris says, only what you know to be useful or find to be beautiful.

4. The House that Cleans Itself by Mindy Starns Clark

Many housekeeping and organizing books seem to recycle the same ideas you’ve already read a dozen times. This book is refreshing because it doesn’t! It offers out-of-the-box thinking that helps you adapt your home’s environment to suit your family’s needs and personality.

5. Home Management: Plain and Simple by Kim Brenneman

Homemakers wear many hats, and it can be quite a challenge to balance it all and keep your home running smoothly! Kim Brenneman knows this as well as anyone, as a farmer, nurse, and mom of nine kids! She has so much practical wisdom in these pages for setting up systems and routines in every aspect of your homemaking, no matter how many people are under your roof. I appreciate her very learned-from-life approach, and have implemented many of her ideas over the past few years (such as this theme-day homemaking routine).

6. Spark Joy by Marie Kondo

Marie Kondo is better known for The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, but I actually gleaned more from this sequel! It contains many quick wins and actionable tips, and is more fun, realistic, and down to earth. (It’s interesting to note that Kondo wrote it after she had kids!).

7. A Colorful Home by Susan Hable

This book was a serendipitous find while browsing at the library. I love it because it taught me to see color in a completely new way. Susan Hable helps you look at ordinary objects, tease out the subtle play of colors in each, and then translate those colors into your home in a way that brings delight to every space you inhabit. I poured over this book and wanted more…I hope she’ll write a sequel!

8. How to Manage Your Home Without Losing Your Mind by Dana K. White

This book covers a lot of ground, from cleaning routines and housekeeping habits to decluttering and organization. Dana White’s writing style is relatable, funny, and wonderfully practical. It makes this the sort of book you want to read cover to cover, rather than just dipping in and out for “tips.”

I wrote a full blog post review of this book, which you can read HERE.

9. Memory-Making Mom by Jessica Smartt

When my kids grow up, I want them to feel nostalgic and secure and happy when they think of home. And family traditions are key for cultivating those associations. Memory-Making Mom is all about creating those traditions, in very mundane ways and in the bigger, holiday-centered ways. What I love is that Jessica shares all this from a very realistic, in-the-thick-of-parenthood perspective. There’s no guilt, just doable, gentle, inspiring ways to plant seeds now that will yield rich memories in the years to come.

10. The Nesting Place by Myquillin Smith

At first I thought this might be just a book with pretty pictures and not much actionable advice for non-DIY types like me. Instead, I discovered it to be very empowering. If you’ve ever felt like you can’t “do much” with your home due to finances, lack of talent, or because of a less-than-ideal living space, you need this book. Myquillin Smith teaches you how to work with what you have and to find joy and playfulness as you create beauty from imperfection.

[question]What books would you recommend to other homemakers?[/question]

Other homemaking blog posts you might enjoy:

8 Things Intentional Homemakers Do Every Day

30 Simple Ways to Add Beauty Around Your Home

10 Tiny Decluttering Tasks to Do Once a Month

How to Make Any Apartment Feel Like Home

6 Ways to Be a Better Homemaker When You’re Waiting for a Better Home


  1. Thank you for sharing these, Elsie! I’d like to get some of your picks from the library once it opens up again.
    Have you read _Home Comforts_ by Cheryl Mendelson? It’s definitely more of a reference book in terms of its size and range of material, but it’s truly well-written and enjoyable to read. I’ve picked it up off the shelf many a time when I need a little time to relax with a cup of tea! It is rich with information, and the wedding shower present always given by an older lady I know.
    It’s a joy to hear your voice through your words here! I hope and pray you all are well this spring. Love to you!

    1. I adore Home Comforts, the book. This woman is a super achiever, so you have to tailor down to meet your own time and expectations , but it’s a wonderful reference book and a great read. It’ll withstand the test of time. How one woman manages her house as she writes of it, writes a book of this size and depth and density, and is a practicing lawyer? Is totally beyond me LOL

    2. Hello! I have borrowed that book from a friend, but it would be worth owning a copy. I actually think I first heard about it from you, if I recall correctly! We are doing very well…just had a new baby and are finishing up Eric’s teaching school year. We had hoped to travel to Michigan this summer but it looks like we might need to wait til next year. We were just talking about our Michigan friends the other day and thinking about how old everyone’s kids would be by now!

  2. I am a stay-at-home dad and experiencing a very steep learning curve. This stuff does NOT come naturally to me. Been enjoying your website for some time now, and really appreciate all the very practical tools you share with your readers. Posts like this are excellent, because they point me to other resource networks and exponentially add to my toolbox. Thank you so much! I’ll take all the help I can get!

    1. Wonderful–I’m so glad my posts have been helpful! My husband is a teacher who becomes more of a stay-at-home dad during the summers, and he agrees with you that it’s a challenge. Rewarding, though. Your kids are lucky to have that time with you!

  3. Radical Homemakers by Shannon Hayes is a must read! It’s not so much about the how of homemaking, but homemaking through history and how we (men and women) were always homemakers until rather recently. Also, how some people are becoming homemakers again.

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