This section is from the book "The Principles And Practice Of Modern House-Construction", by G. Lister Sutcliffe. Also available from Amazon: How Your House Works: A Visual Guide to Understanding & Maintaining Your Home.
The work of planning a house as a whole may almost be said to begin with laying out such a framework of thoroughfares - that is to say, entrances, passages, and staircases - as shall conveniently and appropriately accommodate the internal traffic, and place every apartment in its proper relation to all the rest Although every room taken alone may be perfectly planned and perfectly furnishable on the proper principles, yet if this grouping of them all has not been satisfactorily accomplished, the house must be pronounced radically imperfect. Compromise may enter, and always does enter, into the adjustment of conflicting arrangements in detail, but it ought to be confined to a minimum, and a perfectly convenient and comfortable house possesses, as a first principle, perfectly convenient and comfortable thoroughfares.
In a typical house (say in the country) there ought to be certain arterial lines of thoroughfare clearly distinguishable. The first, on the ground - floor, leads from the front entrance through the hall, through or past the staircase, to the garden door. A secondary line branches off from this through the offices and by the back stair to the servants' entrance. The first accommodates the family traffic, the second that of the service. Upstairs the family traffic pro-etadi from the staircase to the bedroom and dressing-rooms in succession. the nurseries, the bath-rooms and closets, and terminates at the back stair; and the servants bedrooms have their own line of access commencing there.
One of the very chief considerations is the lighting; semi-dark passages and staircases are inexeusable, however common they may unfortunately be. In the country, where the site is free and open, defective lighting ought to be impossible; but even in the town, professional skill need never be so unequal to the occasion as to be satisfied with a dark passage or a blind stair, any more than with a dismal drawing-room or a gloomy kitchen.
The entrance-hall is too often treated as only a vestibule, but it is properly a rendezvous, and even in street houses space is well expended in making it as commodious as possible.
A staircase is most important as a chief thoroughfare. Airiness and good lighting by wall-windows, and not by a sky-light in the roof, are indispensable if the comfort of the house is to be assured. Winders Of "turnsteps" should be avoided if it be possible; and the shallower the riser the broader must be the tread, so as to keep the stride nearly equal. In small houses a staircase readily carries an odour upwards, notably the smell of cooking. Odd steps in unusual places are an insufferable blemish in any plan. Again, it is an elementary rule never to introduce single steps anywhere - let there be two steps or none - except at an outside door, where the single step is used for the special purpose of keeping off the outside wet and dirt. Another elementary rule is to have no step or steps at the door of any room.