The best books about making and running a welcoming home

Who am I?

Laura Calder is a recognized advocate for living well at home. She is the author of four cookbooks and received a James Beard Award for her long-running television series, French Food at Home.


I wrote...

The Inviting Life: An Inspirational Guide to Homemaking, Hosting and Opening the Door to Happiness

By Laura Calder,

Book cover of The Inviting Life: An Inspirational Guide to Homemaking, Hosting and Opening the Door to Happiness

What is my book about?

I wrote The Inviting Life as an exploration into how we can "get a life" at home, particularly through making a welcome home and hosting. More than a social activity, "entertaining" is a form of self-care. Done right, it can take us from coping our way through life every day to celebrating.

The books I picked & why

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The Rituals of Dinner: The Origins, Evolution, Eccentricities, and Meaning of Table Manners

By Margaret Visser,

Book cover of The Rituals of Dinner: The Origins, Evolution, Eccentricities, and Meaning of Table Manners

Why this book?

Manners can be a dull topic when merely outlined in a reference book of rules (hold your fork this way, pass the salt like so, etc…), but when woven into historical and cultural context, as Visser does here, all these hows and whys suddenly come to life. Visser covers everything from spitting to sitting, from banquets to burgers. 

The Rituals of Dinner: The Origins, Evolution, Eccentricities, and Meaning of Table Manners

By Margaret Visser,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Rituals of Dinner as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

With an acute eye and an irrepressible wit, Margaret Visser takes a fascinating look at the way we eat our meals. From the ancient Greeks to modern yuppies, from cannibalism and the taking of the Eucharist to formal dinners and picnics, she thoroughly defines the eating ritual.

"Read this book. You'll never look at a table knife the same way again."-The New York Times.


The Interior Design Handbook

By Frida Ramstedt,

Book cover of The Interior Design Handbook

Why this book?

Finally, a book for regular people that spells out the golden rules of design in a way that’s easy to understand and to apply to the homes we live in, whatever they may be. Ramstedt guides us through everything from lights to flower vases to the arrangement of furniture to choosing white paint. A book to help us see the places where we live with fresh eyes and tackle the kind of tweaks that will make us feel more at home in them than ever.

The Interior Design Handbook

By Frida Ramstedt,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Interior Design Handbook as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE BESTSELLING SWEDISH PHENOMENON

What looks good and why?

Design consultant Frida Ramstedt runs Scandinavia's leading interior design blog. In this book she distils the secrets of successful interior design and styling to help you create a home that works best for your space, taste and lifestyle. Filled with practical tips, rules-of-thumb and tricks of the trade, The Interior Design Handbook will help you to think like a professional designer.

'Frida has created this BIBLE to interior design ... such useful info that has taken me years to learn, all in one place' Rebecca Wakefield, Studio Fortnum

'Beautifully illustrated with…


The Pocket Butler's Guide to Good Housekeeping: Expert Advice on Cleaning, Laundry and Home Maintenance

By Charles MacPherson,

Book cover of The Pocket Butler's Guide to Good Housekeeping: Expert Advice on Cleaning, Laundry and Home Maintenance

Why this book?

How to run a house is no longer part of our education system. The only way to learn this vital skill – one that helps make the whole of our lives run more smoothly - is by educating ourselves. This compact book teaches us everything from how to clean a room to how to fold socks to how to descale a shower head. It’s like having your own butler to turn to for advice whenever you need it.

The Pocket Butler's Guide to Good Housekeeping: Expert Advice on Cleaning, Laundry and Home Maintenance

By Charles MacPherson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Pocket Butler's Guide to Good Housekeeping as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Everyone's favourite butler is back! Get your home spic and span with Charles MacPherson's expert tips and tricks for everything from polishing silverware to organizing the garage.

After over 30 years as a professional butler and household manager, Charles MacPherson knows a thing or two about keeping a home clean and organized. He has poured his vast knowledge and expertise into this pocket-sized volume, perfect for easy day-to-day reference or to guide your next marathon cleaning session.

Everything you need to know is here. With step-by-step instructions for cleaning, organizing, and maintaining every room in your home, The Pocket Butler's…


A Platter of Figs and Other Recipes

By David Tanis,

Book cover of A Platter of Figs and Other Recipes

Why this book?

Menu cookbooks can be tricky, but Tanis has produced this and another masterpiece (The Heart of the Artichoke 2010) both of which will up the game of any dinner-party host. The recipes are varied, imaginative, and infallible (Fish Tacos with Shredded Cabbage and Lime, Chicken Tagine with Pumpkin and Chickpeas, Rum Baba with Cardamom) and the menus sheer poetry.

A Platter of Figs and Other Recipes

By David Tanis,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Platter of Figs and Other Recipes as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In "A Platter of Figs and Other Recipes", David Tanis shows readers how to slow down, pay attention, and give ingredients their due. Worlds away from showy "Food Network" personalities and chefs who preach fussy techniques, Tanis serves up charming, unassuming meals for friends and family: couscous with rabbit and turnip for a special birthday fete, clam and chorizo paella to eat by the fireplace, and turkey with duck confit for Thanksgiving. Tanis has an elemental, unpretentious finesse with ingredients and a genuine gift with words."Dinner with Friends" is deliciously down-to-earth in covering such topics as 'Pretty vs. Beautiful Food,'…


Great Hostesses

By Brian Masters,

Book cover of Great Hostesses

Why this book?

Who are the great hosts and hostesses of our day? We don’t know; nobody ever talks about them. Celebrities and socialites, instead, have stolen the spotlight. But, great hostesses of the past were not only prominent, but powerfully influential, subtly steering the fate of society this way and that. Masters provides portraits here of some of the most celebrated hostesses of days gone by, including Emerald Cunard and Mrs. Vanderbilt. A book to inspire a new generation of “inviters.”

Great Hostesses

By Brian Masters,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Great Hostesses as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in the upper class, home decoration, and housekeeping?

7,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about the upper class, home decoration, and housekeeping.

The Upper Class Explore 53 books about the upper class
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Housekeeping Explore 12 books about housekeeping

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like Sargent's Women, Parlor Politics, and The Remains of the Day if you like this list.