Time: Late 1850s, early 1860s
Location: Middle-of-Nowhere, Montana
1. My character (I'll just call him Mr. for now, he's nameless,) relocates his family from Ireland to Montana, and obviously, they need a house. Mr. is immortal and thanks to a few hundred years of life, has amassed quite a bit of money to spend on getting the house built and prettied up. He's also a cheapskate who knows that nothing stays in style for very long.
I've got a pretty good idea about indoor decoration - especially thanks to these flickr albums that I found in my google adventures. The only problem is, the images, just like most of the info I've found, seems to be very English, upper-middle class/aristocratic, city oriented. I don't know if it would apply to the US, in the backwoods, with an owner who wouldn't be decorating like paisley and carpets just rained from the sky into his house. Mr. definitely wants to make the impression that "I can buy you, your family and the ground they walk on," without being vulgar and tacky. Would he just...omit all the clutter, have simple hardwood floors and white walls? Would he do wall panelling or wallpaper instead?
Similarly, any info and images I've seen of floor plans and architectural styles (more luck in the American category, though,) is very east-coast and city specific.
The only experience I have with old style country houses is very local (canadienne style houses,) so I'm really at a total loss as to what american midwest houses would be laid out like and what rooms would be in the house.
I've googled a number of combinations of "victorian" "19th century" "architecture" "interior design" "house style" "floor plan" and probably a few more that I can't recall.
I think I have access to the Architecture Library at my Uni, so if there any books you know of, I can check if they have it.
2. Same character has two kids, a boy and a girl. What instruments would they learn to play in their modest spare time, if any at all? Daughter is definitely more dedicated and patient than Son. I was thinking piano and flute, but don't know if there's any sort of stigma or gender predilection (is that the right word?) in the 19th century concerning musical instruments.
Thanks in advance!