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Building a House - Developing an Idea

"We will try next to give to the walls of those apart ments the position required by the general construction. The entrance to the dining-room and the billiard-room which is also a place of assembly - is to be from the drawing-room. The opening from the drawing-room into the billiard-room must therefore be wide enough for those who may be in either of those apartments to assemble without inconvenience. But we ought to be able to reach the entrance-hall from the billiard-room without going through the drawing-room; and so with the dining-room. We observe that lateral prospects were required for the drawing-room, whose length is 27 feet. If we take 8 feet for the side-lights, and i foot 6 inches for the thickness of the wall of the billiard-room or the dining-room, there will remain 17 feet 6 inches to the entrance partition of the drawing-room; our billiard-room and dining-room being r8 feet wide, these apartments will reach 8 inches beyond the entrance-partition of the drawing-room. That does not matter. Let us mark out the second wall, also i foot 6 inches thick. Thus we have the three chief apartments determined. In the central line of the billiard-room we will make an opening into the drawing-room of 8 feet 6 inches. On the side of the wall separating it from the dining-room we will open a door of 4 feet 6 inches into the dining-room, within 8 inches of the partition separating the drawing-room from the entrance-hall. Thus we shall enter this dining-room, not in the centre, but on one side, which is more convenient; for you know that in going to or leaving it the gentlemen offer their arms to the ladies. It is therefore desirable that in going out or coming in there should be no obstacle in their way. The door leading from the drawing-room to the dining-room will be also out of the central line of the opening from the drawing-room into the billiard-room; but that I do not mind. This door will balance with the window on this side looking outwards, and we will put the fire-place between them. We will open a central door from the entrance-hall into the drawi ng-room.

"In front, against the wall of the billiard-room, let us put your brother-in-law's study, with a small anteroom, where people who have business with him can wait, so as not to be wandering about in the hall. On the dining-room side (of the hall) we will put the pantry. The study must be at least 12 feet 6 inches wide. We will make the entrance hall jut out a little to form a projection.

"The staircase is a very important point in every house. It should be proportioned to the house, - neither too spa cious nor too scanty. It must not occupy space uselessly; it must give easy access to the upper stories, and be sufficiently conspicuous. If we take a part of the staircase out of the entrance-hall, which is very large-18 feet by C 2 16 feet - it will be very conspicuous, and we shall gain room. The width of a staircase in a house of this style and size should be at least 4 feet. But the hall ought to communicate directly with the dining-room, the pantry, and all the offices to the right of the plan. Let us reserve a passage of 4 feet and mark the first step. The height of the lower story between floor and floor should be, reckon ing the size of the rooms, 15 feet; which will give them a clear height of 14 feet, reserving i foot for the thickness of the floor of the chamber story. The steps of an easy

staircase should be about 6 inches high. To ascend 15 feet we require thirty steps. Each step should be 10 to 12 inches wide. The staircase should have an extension of 25 feet for steps of 10 inches in width, or 3o feet for steps of 12 inches, reckoning thirty steps. Let us take a mean - say 27 feet. We must find room for this extension of 27 feet at the least. We will therefore place a staircase projection at the angle of the entrance-hall prominent enough to bring us, in winding round a newel (which will be in the prolongation of the wall on the right of the drawing-room), to the first floor, passing out into the antechamber of this floor.... I mark out this staircase for you : we shall have to return to it. The first fifteen steps come into the length of the newel and the wall, and allow us to place below the last half flight of the stairs the water-closet for the family on the ground floor. Opening from the passage we will next put the pantry. Then the servants' staircase in a tower; then the serving-room; then the kitchen in the wing; a bakehouse and scullery, a washhouse, and a way out from the kitchen to the kitchen garden. Forming a return, we will put a stable for three horses, a coach-house for two carriages, a harness-room, and a small flight of stairs to reach the rooms for the coachman and groom, and the hay-loft in the roof. Near the stable we will leave a way into the yard and the larder and servants' conveniences.

"We will separate all these offices from the main build ing by a plinth wall and trellis-work at the right of the round tower servants' staircase, which will give us a court yard for the kitchen, stable, and coach-house. In front we will reserve a space for the poultry-yard, the fowl-house, and the manure pit....

"Now that we have traced out the general plan of our ground floor, let us try to improve it in detail.

"It would be very nice to have a bay window at the end of the drawing-room looking out on the garden. Nothing prevents us from planning another at the end of the billiard-room, with a divan where the gentlemen might smoke, and a third at the end of the dining-room, which would allow the dishes to be passed in through a turn from the serving-room, and afford room for the sideboard and carving tables.

"We shall find these projections useful on the first floor.

"But we ought to have a way out from the drawing room or the billiard-room into the garden. I must confess that I am not veryfond of those flights of steps, which are scorching under a hot sun and very disagreeable in wind and rain; if, then, in the angle formed by the billiard-room with the drawing-room, and along it, we were to place a conservatory inclosing a flight of steps, I think it would be a convenient arrangement. Thus we could pass from the drawing-room or the billiard-room into this conservatory, and could take coffee there in wet weather, and have a covered approach to the garden. Some flowers and shrubs placed along the glazed side would enliven the billiard room without darkening it. But in front of the entrance hall we will have a flight of steps in the usual style, which We shall take care to put under shelter, the position of the staircase allowing us to do so without difficulty.

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feet, drawing-room, inches, billiard-room and dining-room