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Building a House - Developing an Idea

"Let us draw out all this as nearly as we can; we shall have to revise it when we have studied the first floor, whose arrangements may oblige us to modify some of those on the ground floor (Fig t).

"As the walls must rise from the bottom, you will put a piece of tracing paper over this ground-plan to avoid loss of time. You will thus have beneath your eyes and pencil the walls to which you must accommodate the super structure, and we shall presently see whether there is reason to modify some parts of this ground-plan.

"Just so. Let us first trace the termination of the stair case; the last of the thirty steps we shall require is in a line with the wall on the right of the entrance-hall; it is the landing which will open on the antechamber above the hall. Over the drawing-room we shall place Madame N.'s room; but as this area would be too large, we shall take advantage of the space to put a second partition, which will give double doors and a capital space for closets, which ladies never find superfluous. To give light in this space we shall glaze an upper portion of the partition next to the antechamber. These double doors will insure greater privacy in the bedroom, and prevent the passage of sounds. Besides, this second antechamber will enable us to provide a direct communication with Monsieur N.'s apartment, which we shall place in the favourable aspect, that is over the billiard-room.

"As this area also is too large, we shall take out of the space thus available a lady's dressing-room, and a bath room; and provide an entrance to Monsieur N.'s room direct from the antechamber through a private passage, which will also open into the lady's dressing-room, that for your brother-in-law over the study, his bedchamber and the closets for these apartments. Thus when the two doors leading to the antechamber are shut, these rooms will be completely cut off. With a corridor answering to that of the ground floor on the right we shall establish a communication between the antechamber, the servants' staircase, the linen-room (an important matter), which we shall place over the kitchen, with a large wardrobe for your sister on the right of her bedroom, and a nursery (for we must provide for every contingency), which, as well as the wardrobe, will be over the dining-room. The recess

or bay window of the ground floor will afford us the means of giving a nice dressing-room for the children's or guests' room on the first floor; and that of the billiard-room will furnish a very agreeable addition to Monsieur N.'s room.

As to the bay window in the drawing-room, we will cover with a flat, with a balustrade, which will give your sister's room a handsome balcony, where an awning and flowers can be placed in the summer. (Fig. 2.) "You see, Paul, our plan begins to assume a definite shape. Breakfast will soon be ready; go and take a walk, and in the afternoon we will resume our work, that is to say, we will proceed to the elevations." On going down to the garden, Paul began to examine the family mansion with an attention he had never yet be stowed upon it. He had never thought before of observing how its apartments were arranged. He began to calculate the space lost in those interminable passages; he perceived here and there dark and useless corners. The staircase started badly. On the ground floor it could not be found without knowing the arrangement of the house. The kitchen was at a vast distance from the dining-room, and to get from the one to the other you must cross a carriage road, go down two steps and mount six. For the first time in his life this struck him as barbarous. Walking about waiting for the breakfast bell, Paul began to ask himself whether his father would not do well to pull down his old mansion and build one on a new plan devised by himself with his cousin's advice. He began to reckon up the several faults in the arrangement of the house, not forgetting its too numerous break-neck passages. He considered the sombre drawing-room, flanked on two sides by the two old towers that masked the side views, his father's little study lighted by a narrow window and en tered by a pretty large room, generally unused, and which served as a fruit-room in the autumn; many other defects besides "Well,"said his father, as soon as they were seated at table,"you have been already at work this morning?" Paul, full of the subject that had engaged him, gave an exact description of the plan which had been prepared; but could not finish without indulging in some critical remarks on the family mansion.

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floor, antechamber, space, ns and ground