It is an established fact that I love reading. I draw a great deal of inspiration for my home from literary images and fictional homes. Not all of us are able to replicate the Joanna Gaines aesthetic. Making a home is as individual as a snowflake.
I have created a homemaking manifesto based on some of my favorite fictional homes. I read widely, and many of these books are not necessarily about homemaking. Rather they are stories about people and the homes they live in. What makes those homes is less about the decor and more about the mood. This homemaking manifesto inspires me less as a design concept and more as to how to create spaces that make people feel welcome.
How Windows and Doors Open the Manifesto
“A breeze blew through the room, blew curtains in at one end and out the other like pale flags, twisting them up towards the frosted wedding cake of the ceiling, and then rippled over the wine-colored rug, making a shadow on it as the wind does on the sea.”
― F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
“As novices, Carthusians are taught to turn around and close doors without pushing them or letting them swing shut. Do you know why?
Miss Prim replied that she had no idea.
So that they learn not to rush, to do one thing after another. So as to train them in restraint, patience, silence, and mindfulness in every gesture.”
― Natalia Sanmartin Fenollera, The Awakening of Miss Prim
“I have always loved a window, especially an open one.”
― Wendell Berry, Jayber Crow
Kitchens and Dining Rooms: the heart of the home
A long table, a gingham cloth, unmatched wooden chairs…all comfortably informal. It wasn’t a smart kitchen. And yet, like the rest of the house, it had a pleasant, settled feel about it, and there was a big sideboard, painted dark green, with an assortment of china displayed, and hooks for jugs, mugs, and cups. ― Rosamunde Pilcher, Winter Solstice
The librarian, her arms dusted in flour to the elbows and cheeks flushed by her efforts, contemplated the handsome old range, which was as ancient and worn as everything else in the house. The range suggested an idyllic childhood. A childhood rich with the scent of freshly baked bread, of sweet sugary fritters, chocolate cake, biscuits, and doughnuts. The kind of childhood she herself had not had but which, in this somewhat chaotic house, she had to admit was a daily reality. ― Natalia Sanmartin Fenollera, The Awakening of Miss Prim
There were sixteen of us around the long table in the dining room. The table seemed so beautiful when we came in that it seemed almost a shame not to just stand and look at it. Mrs. Feltner had put on her best tablecloth and her good dishes and silverware. And on the table at last, after our long preparations, were our ham, our turkey and dressing, and our scalloped oysters under their brown crust. There was a cut glass bowl of cranberry sauce. There were mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans and butter beans, corn pudding, and hot rolls. On the sideboard were our lovely cakes on cake stands and a big pitcher of custard that would be served with whipped cream.
The Feltners were hospitable in the old way. There was always company, a lot of coming and going, even when we weren’t feeding hands. ― Wendell Berry, Hannah Coulter
Living Room for living in
“Books were a dependable pleasure. I read more then than I ever was able to read again until now when I am too old to work much and am mostly alone.”
― Wendell Berry, Hannah Coulter
Life at the Burrow was as different as possible from life on Privet Drive. The Dursleys liked everything neat and ordered; the Weasleys’ house burst with the strange and unexpected. Harry got a shock the first time he looked in the mirror over the kitchen mantelpiece and it shouted,“ Tuck your shirt in, scruffy!” The ghoul in the attic howled and dropped pipes whenever he felt things were getting too quiet, and small explosions from Fred and George’s bedroom were considered perfectly normal. What Harry found most unusual about life at Ron’s, however, wasn’t the talking mirror or the clanking ghoul: It was the fact that everybody there seemed to like him. ― J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
“I’d like to add some beauty to life,” said Anne dreamily. “I don’t exactly want to make people KNOW more… though I know that IS the noblest ambition… but I’d love to make them have a pleasanter time because of me… to have some little joy or happy thought that would never have existed if I hadn’t been born.”
― L.M. Montgomery, Anne’s House of Dreams
There was a stone fireplace on the other side. No desecrating gas imitation, but a real fireplace where you could burn real logs. With a big grizzly bearskin on the floor before it and a hideous red-plush sofa of Tom MacMurray’s regime. But its ugliness was hidden by silver-gray timber wolf skins, and Valancy’s cushions made it gay and comfortable. In the corner, a nice, tall, lazy old clock ticked – the right kind of clock. One that did not hurry the hours away but ticked them off deliberately. It was the jolliest-looking old clock.
― Lucy Maud Montgomery, The Blue Castle
“Sometimes…I wander about in this house that Nathan and I renewed, which is now aged and worn by our life in it. How many steps, wearing the thresholds? I look at it all again. Sometimes it fills to the brim with sorrow, which signifies the joy that has been here, and the love. It is entirely a gift.”
― Wendell Berry, Hannah Coulter
“The clocks were striking midnight and the rooms were very still as a figure glided quietly from bed to bed, smoothing a coverlid here, settling a pillow there, and pausing to look long and tenderly at each unconscious face, to kiss each with lips that mutely blessed, and to pray the fervent prayers which only mothers utter.”
― Louisa May Alcott, Little Women
“You never really got to know people properly until you had seen them within the ambiance of their own home. Seen their furniture and their books and the manner of their lifestyle.”
― Rosamunde Pilcher, Winter Solstice
“July had come, and haying began; the little gardens were doing finely and the long summer days were full of pleasant hours. The house stood open from morning till night, and the lads lived out of doors, except at school time. The lessons were short, and there were many holidays, for the Bhaers believed in cultivating healthy bodies by much exercise, and our short summers are best used in out-of-door work. Such a rosy, sunburnt, hearty set as the boys became; such appetites as they had; such sturdy arms and legs, as outgrew jackets and trousers; such laughing and racing all over the place; such antics in house and barn; such adventures in the tramps over hill and dale; and such satisfaction in the hearts of the worthy Bhaers, as they saw their flock prospering in mind and body, I cannot begin to describe.”
― Louisa May Alcott, Little Men
Last summer I shared five fiction books that celebrate ordinary life, as well as some nonfiction reads.
Check out any of these books to read the whole story they are set in.
The Awakening of Miss Prim by Natalia Sanmartin Fenollera is translated from Spanish to English. Set in a small village in Spain and filled with some rather Eutopian ideals, but still very charming.
Hannah Coulter and Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry, an American farmer, and writer. His writings include essays, poems, and novels about living well.
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling is the second book in the Harry Potter series. Her many descriptions of the Weasley family home inspired my home to be named The Burrow.
Little Women and its sequels by Louisa May Alcott have many wild and wonderful scenes of home, particularly the school where Jo ends up running for boys. Homemaking at its most joyous.
Winter Solstice by Rosamunde Pilcher is a story about a found family during the holidays.
Anne’s House of Dreams is the fifth book in the beloved Anne series, and The Blue Castle is my favorite of all the L. M. Montgomery books.