There are a lot of books dealing with the decoration and life within the Victorian house. The Dover reprints are, of course a great resource.
I've read many books from my local libraries and every once in a while I'll find one that I have to buy simply because I thought it was so good and I knew I'd refer to it over and over. Here are some books that I've bought within the last couple years, so they are available in bookstores now. You can also see if your library has copies.

Inside The Victorian Home, A Portrait of Domestic Life in Victorian England
Judith Flanders
The best book I've read about the Victorian home and it's inhabitants. This is written primarily about the middle, and upper middle classes, but gives a fascinating view of the era,. Much of the information is applicable to the USA also.

Victorian Interior Decoration
Gail Caskey Winkler and Roger W. Moss
Covers the decoration of American interiors from 1830 to 1900. The best book of it's kind I have run across.It is set up 1830-1850, then 1850-1870. etc.It covers just about everything you could want to know about the subject.

Open House, a Guided Tour of the American Home 1637- Present
Merritt Ierley
This book answers all kinds of questions about heat, lights, indoor plumbing, bathing, building houses and the kitchen sink. I found it truly interesting.

Victorian Gothic, an Architectural and Interior Design Source Book
Linda Osband
Page after page of color photographs and sketches of rooms and furnishings and other assorted details.

The Rise and Fall of the Victorian servant
Pamela Horn
What was the life of an English Victorian servant really like? If you found the information about kitchens and other sundry day to day details interesting, you’ll probably enjoy this book.

By the way, I recently found a great source for old books, the Maine Statewide Library catalog. I can browse the catalog online and order books to be delivered to a participating library. I can order a book that's in the U of Maine Library or the library of some other town, and as soon as it's available, they send it to my closest participating library which happens to be in the town next door.
Check and see if your state has something similar.

Authentic D├ęcor, the domestic interior 1620-1920
by Peter Thornton

Victorians at Home
by Susan Lansdun
I learned a few things I hadn't known from Lansdun's book.
In the 1830's people were advised to arrange their furniture so that it looked as though someone had just left the room, with chairs comfortably set by the fire and perhaps a book left open on a table. This was considered a warmer and more welcoming arrangement than the previous practice of having furniture set along the walls, to be later placed near the window or fireplace when needed, then returned to its spot by the wall. This new furniture arrangement allowed the use of heavier tables and chairs. The fact that there had been improvements to heating and lighting were helpful.
Poor Queen Victoria found Buckingham Palace so cold that she used to take brisk walks along the great corridor to stay warm.
As late as 1880 open fires were still recommended in Britain as the best heating system, in spite of the fact that stoves were used on the European continent and the US. Visitors from these places often commented on the cold English chambers. One visitor to an English country house party complained that his room has too cold in which to pick up a pen, so he decided to go down to the drawing room to be by a fire. When he got there, he found the room overcrowded as everyone else had the same idea.
Finally we come to that beloved Victorian plant the aspidistra, also known as the cast iron plant. It seems that the fumes from gaslights killed many Victorian houseplants, but not the tough aspidistra. It was impervious to the fumes.
The gas was also another reason for the interest in plants grown in glass cases. The glass protected the plants inside.

No comments: