...on the placement of windows.
Or actually it isn't such a new view, as the windows I am about to show you are from the 19th and 17th century.  

When I was drawing up the design for my Herengracht Canal House, I had to scrap several ideas because the placement of elements like windows, doors, fireplaces etc. were conflicting with one another.  Especially if there are only three walls in a dolls house the design can be a difficult puzzle to solve.  But should it really be such a puzzle?  Please read on!

 I recently saw a TV program called Castle Hunters in which a French castle was viewed by potential buyers.  Below are some photos taken with my cell phone while viewing the program on my laptop, so please excuse the quality of the pictures.  (The white text in some of the pictures are the Dutch subtitles.)  

The rather lovely French Chateau which was for sale.  

One of the rooms with doors opening onto the garden.  The room is connected to the next room with a single door.  The open door allows a view of a nice fire burning in the fireplace on the end wall.  

The window above the fireplace lets in lots of light and offers a nice view of the garden.  The fireplace has..., wait, what?  A window above the fireplace?  Oh yes dear readers, that is exactly what it is.  A working fireplace with a window above it.  No sign of a chimney breast anywhere.  

I have never seen this before.  A small window in or right next to the chimney breast, yes.  But never a huge window where the chimney breast should be.  

The other rather wonderful thing about this window above the fireplace is that it has a hidden mirror in the wall.  The mirror can be pulled out in front of the window, serving as a sort of shutter, keeping out drafts or light.  

It looks like all the rooms on the end walls have a fireplace with a window above it.  Here is one of the bedrooms with the same arrangement.  

I don't know how the smoke from the fireplace is extracted.  The walls don't seem thicker than normal  and the windows are as wide as the fireplace, leaving no room for extraction going straight up.  The smoke must go into the walls via the side of the fireplace somehow.   See the handle on the wall to the right of the fireplace?  That could be to open or close the flue.  Or to close shutters.  Or to open a secret door leading into the tower. Who knows.

The next window I want to show you can be found in one of the canal houses in Amsterdam which houses the Biblical Museum.  The 17th century canal house has a wonderful (winding) staircase which passes in front of a window.  No attempt has been made to adapt the window to the staircase or vice versa.  

Halfway up the stairs there is another unusual element, a doorway leading to side rooms.  The windows of the staircase and the side rooms look out onto a small inner courtyard.  The courtyard serves as a lightwell in the center of the deep canal house.

Is the house not wide enough to house a grand staircase?  Then just add a bit onto the building.  Simple as that.  

And below again, part of the staircase is going in front of the window and taking off the corner of the door frame and door.  

The moral of this story?  As a dolls house builder I can have a lot of freedom in my designs and still keep some sense of realism and historical connection.  The reality is that probably everything has been done before, so I can't really go wrong, can I?  And if I do, so what?  I can do with the house what I like, that's the fun of it all.  

I found more photos of the French castle which show the side of the castle with the chimneys for the fireplaces underneath the windows.  It still doesn't give me any clues to how the smoke is getting from the fireplaces to the chimneys...

The first photo shows the side on the right with the chimney for the fireplaces in the photos above.  The second photo is of the left side, which shows this side probably only has fireplaces on the upper level, as the ground floor has windows/doors opening to the garden.