COTE DE TEXAS: Princess Diana’s Apartment Before Diana

Princess Diana’s Apartment Before Diana

A few months ago, I bought an old copy of Country Life magazine from England – the year?  1928.   I had seen it online – showing the apartment where decades later Diana had lived at Kensington Palace.  Of course, I started hyperventilating.  Here was a chance to see what Diana’s apartment had looked like in the 1920s!!!!   A dream come true.

The story was advertised as “The Apartments of the Countess Granville, London.”  Little did the magazine know that years later the woman that had captivated the world would be living in that very same apartment!   Luckily the magazine only cost 45 pounds – because I probably would have paid anything to see it.  Anything!


I’m not sure why I’m so obsessed with Diana’s apartment.  Maybe it’s because I was fascinated with Diana for so long.   For years I subscribed to “Royalty” magazine to chronicle her every move and outfit.  I vividly remember her wedding day and her funeral and all the days in between.


I loved her clothes - her endless shirts with the ruffled collars, and I adored her hair cut, and her smile – there wasn’t anything about Diana that didn’t intrigue the young 20-something me.

Her wedding dress was my ideal.  If I could have had the exact same dress – I would have.  All these years later I don’t think I have ever loved another wedding gown as much as hers.

I was especially fascinated with Kensington Palace.   There was no internet back then like today and you had to imagine her apartment - whereas now - all you have to do is Google it.  Kensington Palace seemed such a mysterious place, with all the older royals living in a sort of “Gated Community For The Titled.”   Stories were printed, first of Princess Margaret, and later of Princess Diana, sneaking in boyfriends to Kensington Palace so the press wouldn’t find out.   I would try to imagine what their “apartments” looked like, always bringing to mind some cheesy “1960s Swingles Complex” instead of the sophisticated townhouses that these “apartments” actually were.


Kensington Palace after the 2012 renovation

Through the years there were only glimpses of Diana’s apartment from a few photoshoots.  Her apartment was English upper crust, yellows and greens, yet it was welcoming and cozy with down cushions and museum quality arts and antiques.  When the photos of her apartment, taken after her death by butler Paul Burrell, were released, the public could finally see the entire apartment.   Those photos only highlighted the enormity of her absence.

But, life marches on.   The fact is that Kensington Palace was never just about Diana, it’s about the royals and their customs and histories starting with William and Mary and later with Queen Victoria and all her numerous offspring who moved here and died here. 

Queen Victoria was born at Kensington Palace and later her daughters and granddaughters would return to live there in the various apartments.

What was the appeal of that particular Palace that so many Royals chose to live there over the others?

Princess Diana’s Garden

Kensington Palace is an architectural jigsaw puzzle – added onto over and over again with little regard for symmetry, it’s certainly not a beautiful building.  Originally, it was just a small house, bought by King William and Queen Mary in 1689 as a second home because their main palace was too near the Thames for William’s fragile health. 

William and subsequent Kings embarked on a building spree – turning this two story house, built in 1605, into a proper palace.

It started to grow and grow, this small house that became Kensington Palace.   The original house remains today – surrounded and hidden by all the state rooms that were built around it. 

At the right is the King’s Gallery which lies behind the row of 11 windows.  To the left is the new wing built by Christopher Wren.  Today, this wing is Apartment 1A where Kate and William and their children live.  To its left is Apartment 1 where the Gloucesters live and where Harry & Meghan are rumored to be moving to.

An early photograph shows shrubs growing in front of Apartments 1 and 1A, probably in an attempt to provide privacy for  Queen Victoria’s daughter, Princess Louise, who lived there at this time.

Today, these two apartments are completely closed off to public view by a series of fences and shrubs in order to protect Kate and William and their children. 

The front of Kensington Palace decades before it was renovated – its façade hidden behind trees, shrubs, and iron gates.  The difference between now and then is profound.  For years, Kensington was allowed to languish and deteriorate.  That has all changed today.  

The 2012 Restoration

The greenery that blocked the façade is now gone, as are all the gates, save for a few attractive ones to control traffic.  There is now a wide, gravel path that welcomes visitors to linger and explore its numerous gardens.    This century, the Palace is now a vital tourist spot – its state rooms have been turned into a cross between a museum and an event locale.   The royals that live there are now hidden behind a series of security means that aren’t noticeable by the public. 

Early Years:

Queen Victoria was actually born in Kensington Palace and lived there in virtual seclusion until she became Queen and moved to Buckingham Palace at the age of 18.   The present Queen Elisabeth’s own grandmother, Queen Mary, was also born at Kensington Palace in 1867.

As the Palace grew, so did the number of apartments, most filled with dowager aunts related to the sovereign.  Some of the apartments at Kensington were very small – those were reserved for various non-royal assistants.  The other apartments designed for royals were rather grand. 

Diana’s apartment was especially beautiful, as it was originally built for a King’s mistress.

The Mistresses of George I:

When George I moved from Germany to become King of England, he brought along two mistresses.  His wife was left behind, where she was imprisoned in a lavish house with servants.  She died 30 years later, still a prisoner. 

Her crime?  Infidelity.

George I’s first mistress, Charlotte Sophia von Kielmansegg, was known as an obese woman, though she certainly doesn’t look like it in this painting.  She was called “The Elephant” behind her back by everyone in court – her nickname has stuck all these centuries later.   She was George’s illegitimate half-sister and historians aren’t sure if they were actually lovers or confidants.  Charlotte’s chief rival was George main mistress, The Duchess of Kendal.

The Duchess was called The Maypole at Court because she was so tall and skinny,  the opposite of her rival Royal Mistress.  She bore the king three children.   George’s desire to be close to her is the crux of this story.

The Duchess was very important to the King emotionally and politically.  She was considered his Queen by the Court, even though the true Queen was back in Germany imprisoned in her own house.  In order for the King to live close to the Duchess, George needed to build her accommodations at Kensington Palace.  Her apartment was just one of the many additions to the Palace that George I made.

William Kent

George I was responsible for hiring the then unknown William Kent to rebuild the small palace.  He added several important state rooms to Kensington – the most extravagant was The Cupola Room, with its rounded dome ceiling and, at the center of the room, the large musical clock – which remains there today.

The Cupola Room designed by William Kent for George I.  Queen Victoria, then Princess Alexandrina Victoria, was christened here in 1819.  The clock was bought in 1743 and cost 4,500 pounds – a fortune then.  It took over 20 years to build and its maker died before it was finished, leaving it to another clockmaker to complete the job. 

The Star of the Garter is at the center of the ceiling.

Today, the different state rooms at Kensington Palace are rented out for parties and weddings.   I love how the Cupola Room, bathed in pink lights, looked at a recent wedding!    Wow!!!

Another room George I was responsible for is William Kent’s King’s Staircase.  Household staff and Court posed for the mural and Kent also included himself.  At the right of the corner is Peter The Wild Boy, a feral child found in the woods of Germany and brought to England by the King as a Court pet.  The man next to young Peter is his doctor who taught him to speak.  The windows on the staircase overlook the back of the palace, Clock Court, where Kate & William’s apartment is.

The Privy Chamber with it beautiful gilded ceiling was also designed by William Kent for George I.

While the wing on the south side, where Kate and William live now, was built rather early on, the rest of the apartments in Kensington Palace were built a bit later when George I became King.  Because he needed rooms for his two mistresses and grandchildren,  he asked Kent to draw up plans for a suite of apartments.   The Mistresses Wing was built at the north end of the grounds, right at the end of this room, the Queen’s Gallery.

Centuries later, this row of three apartments #7, 8 & 10, built for King George I’s mistresses has hardly changed except in two ways.

When built, the apartments were entered through the back Courtyards and not through the front doors as seen here at Apartment #10. 

The other difference from then to now – the street is closed.  Originally it was open to the palace.  At some point a brick wall was built with beautiful iron gates that closed it off to provide security.   When Diana & Charles moved in,  the wall was bricked up completely, leaving only the black door for foot traffic.  Princess Michael in Apartment #10 was furious about this and lamented the loss of the beautiful gates.  Her complaints fell on deaf ears, as usual. 

According to the article in the 1928 Country Life – there is very little information on the history of the Royal apartments.  Historians have gleaned most of what is known from written letters and correspondence filled with gossipy tidbits. 

For instance, personal letters written about mushrooms growing on the damp, bottom floors of these three apartments have provided clues about who actually lived here during George I’s time.

Another clue about the origin of the apartments is Diana’s grand staircase.  It was her staircase in Apartment #8 that provided the most details as to who actually designed the apartments.  At one time, it was thought the staircase, thus apartment, might have been built decades before it was, during the time of Charles II (1600’s.)

Architectural historians have since studied the staircase and its moldings and attributed them to William Kent during the reign of George I.  It was other staircases that Kent designed which confirmed he had created Diana’s staircase in the Inigo Jones/Webb style.

It is now know that Diana’s Apartment #8 was built for George’s mistress, the Duchess of Kendal, which accounts for its very fine mantels and moldings and stucco work.    The King held daily state meetings in her apartment, so naturally it was grandly designed.

Apartment #10, where Prince and Princess Michael live today, was originally built for George I’s  granddaughters.  A judge granted the King guardianship of the girls, over their parents’ objections, in order that they be properly educated.  Needless to say, father and son were not on good terms.

Today, Princess Michael (above in her Apartment #10) is forever complaining about how small her apartment is.   Now we know the reason why hers is one of the smallest Royal spaces - it was built to house King George I’s three young granddaughters. 

During George I’s reign, the occupants of Apartment #7, which is to the left of Diana’s apartment, is still unknown.

The row of apartments #7, 8, and 10 all overlook the two back courtyards:  The Prince’s Court (#2) and the Princesses Court (#1,) shown above.  Apartment #9 straddles the two courts.  Surrounding the other three sides of the courtyards are various small apartments for staff, mostly.  But during George I’s time, instead of these neighboring apartments, there were only old kitchens and unsafe buildings that were later torn down.

Apartment #9, located behind the row of 7, 8, and 10, was built by  King George to add a few rooms for his mistress, Duchess Kendal.  He also added two rooms for his grandchildren in #10 – which today gives Princess Michael a little extra space.

Centuries later, Apartment #9 was combined with Diana’s apartment #8, but after her death,  it was again separated from it.


The Princess Courtyard – facing Apartment 10 where Prince & Princess Michael live – was once covered in ivy.   Today, the vines are gone.  In the corner, on the left side – those two windows are Apartment 9 where Diana’s dressing room and bedroom overlooked this courtyard.

The other side of the Princess Court – as it looked decades ago, when these two courtyards were not maintained.  Today they are much more attractive.

The covered walkways in these two courts were built so that the Duchess could go from Apartment 8 to10 to visit the King’s grandchildren, without getting wet.  Conversely King George put these two apartments right next to each other so he could easily visit his mistress and his grandchildren without having to walk long distances.

While #8 and #10 were lavishly finished, Apartment #1 where Kate & William now live was quite the opposite.   Apartment #1 was originally built to provide access from Clock Court to the Palace, also without getting wet. 

Originally the front door of the palace was through what is now the back of the Palace.  Back then, guests entered through Clock Court first:

Clock Court.   This was once the front entrance to Kensington, probably because of the horses and carriages.  Once people entered the tower, they would walk through what is today the entrance hall in Apartment #1A where Kate & William live.

Here is the path everyone once took to enter Kensington Palace.  From Clock Court, you would walk along Stone Gallery to the State Apartments.

The “Stone Gallery” in Apartment 1A before it became Princess Margaret’s front hall.   In the beginning, the rooms on the other side of the gallery were apartments for various guards and employees.   Originally this was just passageway, not a gorgeous front hall in a private apartment.

The Stone Gallery during Princess Margaret’s day.  Side shell niches combined with columns, beautiful moldings and flag floors make this gallery a wonderful entry hall.

  This first known occupant of #1 was King George III’s son, the Duke of Sussex, who moved here in 1804.  It was in this 50+ room apartment that the Duke housed his library which held over 50,000 books – one of the largest private libraries in the country.   Back then, Apartment 1 and 1A were not divided – but  instead were one very large apartment.

After the Duke died, Queen Victoria’s daughter, the artist Princess Louise, moved into #1 in 1875.   Princess Louise’s grand white sculpture of her mother, Queen Victoria, remains a significant contribution to the palace gardens.

Princess Louise at the window in her Kensington Apartment #1.

Louise renovated her apartment and public traffic was redirected away from her back gardens by planting rows of bushes.  Just like today, privacy in Apartments 1 and 1A is an issue.

Princess Louise’s tiara is now on display at Kensington Palace along with her mother, Queen Victoria’s tiaras.  Wow!!!!!   The hanging diamonds shake when the tiara is worn causing the diamonds to sparkle even more.  The largest diamond is 10 carats.

Besides her Kensington apartment, Princess Louise had Sir Edwin Lutyens design a house for her in Scotland – surprisingly a long three hours drive from the Royal castle Balmoral and her mother.

An old, romantic photograph of her house which was recently put up for sale.  This is only one of two house Lutyens built in Scotland.

  After Louise died in 1939, Princess Marina (the widow of Queen Elizabeth’s uncle) and her three children moved into #1 – including her son Prince Michael who today lives in #10.  Michael has lived at  Kensington almost his entire life.   When her children moved out, Marina declared Apartment 1 was too large for her and it was then that 50+ room apartment was divided into two. 

Apartment 1A today.  You can see the staircase through  the fifth window on the right. 

Marina moved into #1 which freed up #1A for Victoria’s grandson, the Marquess of Carisbrooke. 

Lady Iris, Carisbrooke’s only child, was born in Kensington Palace in 1920.

The Marquess of Carisbrooke’s death in 1960 allowed the newlyweds Princess Margaret and Lord Snowden to move into #1A, which they completely renovated.  Now, Kate & William call #1A home.  The rumors are that Meghan & Harry will be moving next door into Apartment 1, after it too is renovated and the Gloucesters are politely kicked out!!  

In Apartment 1A, Princess Margaret and Tony created a fabulous home and later, Kate and William improved upon it even more.  BUT – the original Apartment 1 was nowhere near as beautiful to begin with as Diana’s Apartment #8 was. 

Make no mistake, Apartment #8 was the jewel of Kensington Palace’s Apartments.

The 1928 issue of Country Life featured a story about Lady Granville and her Kensington Palace Apartment.   The article is a long, scholarly work about #8 - which was built for the Duchess Kendal in the 1700s.   This photo on the cover is NOT Lady Granville, although Country Life did use her on a cover some ten years earlier.

Lady Glanville WAS shown on the cover of Country Life while she was still single in 1918.

Confession:  I had to read the article in Country Life a few times just to understand the cadence.  It’s amazing how different people wrote just 100 years ago.   

The wing where Diana’s apartment #8 is was built in 1722-1726,  by William Kent, who apparently was the architect and decorator.  There wasn’t much written about the wing at all, but as stated before - through clues taken from the interior, it has been agreed that Kent was the architect.

The wing was ordered built by George I for his German mistress who interestingly – to say the least – is an ancestor of Princess Diana!!   George 1 visited his lover every afternoon from five to eight.  He gave her a special allowance of yellow candles to light the grand staircase to her rooms – so that he wouldn’t fall!  When George I died, he left the Duchess enough money to buy a villa in Isleworth Middlesex.

George II’s Mistresses:

The next mistress to live in Apartment 8 was the married Henrietta Howard, who was to become the Countess of Suffolk.    She later married (again) and left Kensington for good after she built a beautiful Palladian styled house, Marble Hill, on the Thames.   George II continued to visit her at Marble Hill. 

Henrietta’s beautiful Palladian house, Marble Hill, on the Thames.

The house has been restored and is now used for events.  Symmetrical beauty!!!

After Henrietta left and King George II’s wife died, he took yet another mistress, Amalie von Wallmoden, Countess of Yarmouth.

Ooh la la!!!  The Duchess of Yarmouth.  Such a sexy beauty!!!

From Germany, Amalie was the niece of the prior royal mistress the Duchess of Kendal.  Small world, indeed.    Amalie was the last royal mistress ever to be granted a peerage for life.

Historians believe that these two mistresses of George II lived in Diana’s apartment #8 because the Duchess of Kendal, Henrietta and Amalie all complained about mushrooms growing in the damp first floor.  As this is the only wing that faces north and is still prone to damp rot, these mushrooms hold the clues to who actually lived in the beautiful Apartment 8.

The next person we know for sure that lived in Apartment 8 is Lady Granville.  Born Lady Rose Constance Bowes-Lyon,  she was an older sister to the Queen Mum or Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon.  As such, she was also Queen Elizabeth’s aunt. Lady Granville had two children and was Princess Margaret’s godmother.

Lady Rose with her younger sister Lady Elizabeth Bowles-Lyon, mother to the current Queen Elizabeth

  Lady Granville’s husband died in 1958, but no mention is made of him in the article in Country Life - it’s as if he didn’t live there, although he did.    

And just like the previous tenant of Apt 8 - Duchess of Kendal, Lady Granville was also related to Princess Diana.

Lady Granville’s tiara, earrings, and necklace made of scarabs!!!!!!!!  I swear to God!!!   The parure was a gift of the Ambassador of Portugal to the wife of the 2nd Earl in 1884.  The parure was passed down in the family until 2011 when it was sold.

Lady Rose’s engagement announcement in The Tattler.  This was years before her sister Elizabeth was Queen, so you can see how blue-blood Rose was on her own.

And here, her wedding announcement, bottom right, made the front page of the London papers.

Years later in 1940, the now Countess Granville was seen in her country house, not the Kensington apartment.  She has impeccable taste with the over large Oriental bowl and plate – filled with blossoms.  A console sits between two sofas with slipcovers in what looks like a cotton Tree of Life pattern.  Oh…to see more photos!!!!!    Back to back sofas in a cotton Tree of Life Slipcover!!!!   HEAVENLY!!!     The house looks so beautiful with dark hardwoods and moldings, and with a crystal chandelier.  There is no doubt that the Countess had a wonderful aesthetic, much better than her sister the Queen Mother or her niece, Queen Elizabeth.

That should come as no surprise, after all, given the choice – Lady Granville had chosen the premier apartment at Kensington, the one designed by William Kent for the favorite mistress of King George I.   Years later, the same apartment would be ear marked for Charles, long before he was even engaged.

I drew up sketch of a floorplan:

When the article about Lady Granville was written for Country Life in 1928, the mysterious Misses Kers were living in Apt. 10 and in Apt. 7, lived the Marchioness of Milford Haven.

The first photo in Country Life is of Granville/Diana’s front door.   As stated before, when the row of apartments 7-8-10 were first built, the front doors were off the back courtyards.  Here, the front door has been moved and the portico looks like an exact twin to the one that is off the Queen’s Gallery.

Here is the portico off the Queen’s Gallery – doesn’t it look exactly like Lady Granville’s?   Even their front doors are identical.

Apartment 8 was bombed during the blitz so perhaps that is why the portico was changed during Diana’s renovation.  Or, perhaps Charles and Diana just wanted a larger foyer.

Today,  you can see the portico is now gone and is replaced with Diana’s foyer that opens to what was once a dark passageway that led to the back courtyard. 

Here Diana shows off the foyer during Christmas.

And here,  you can see Charles at #8 while in the background is Apartment #7.

The stairway is the highlight of Apartment 8 and it is this stairway that proved William Kent built this wing of Kensington.  Without any written proof of its designer, architecture historians looked for visual clues as to who the designer was.   At this time during Lady Granville’s tenure, the stairs were stained dark.  Later, Diana painted them all white, then sensing a mistake, she stained just the banisters dark.  Today, this apartment is used by Kate and William and Harry as their meeting rooms – and the staircase remains unchanged.   Notice the ceiling with the circular stucco detail.  The staircase was damaged during the blitz and some of the stucco was restored, but not all.  There are no photos of the ceiling to confirm whether the circular element is still there or not.

Notice the large portrait – this is in the exact same position that Diana placed a large portrait of herself.  And a favorite, the oval portrait next to it.    Notice the stairs are bare.  Diana carpeted her stairs but today, they are bare again.

Houghton Hall designed by William Kent. 

The similarity to this staircase is why scholars believe Kent designed the Kensington apartment.   Other staircases designed by peers of Kent’s were also noted to be proof of his design.

This staircase was based on designs by Inigo Jones – a book of his work came out in 1727 and Kent drew much inspiration from it.

Here Banqueting House, Whitehall.

This ceiling is another hint that Wren was the architecture of Apartment #8.  The two ceilings are very similar as you can see here – except Lady Granville’s was white and circular.

Here, Diana’s white staircase with the dark banister.  Notice Diana’s portrait in the same place as Lady Granville’s.   The window?  It overlooks Princesses Court – where Princess Michael lives.

Kate & William in the old lobby off Prince’s Court.  Today – this lobby is again used as the front door as it was originally intended when first built in the 1700s.

Across the arcade you can see the door to Apartment 9A.  This is the apartment that was combined for Diana & Charles.  Their bedroom, bathrooms and part of the nursery (above their bedrooms) were all located in Apartment 9.  Today – it has been returned to a separate apartment again.

Lady Granville:  Here is the landing with a large rug, a French chest, mirror and more art.   The door at the end of the hall was Diana’s study, while the door at the left was Charles’s study.   This layout was completely different during Granville’s day.  Instead, Diana’s sitting room was Granville’s Dining Room and Charles’ study was Granville’s Drawing Room while Diana’s Drawing Room was Granville’s Library (the middle door.)

Isn’t the landing so elegant?  Much more so than Diana’s décor.   What is that large grill behind the chest?  I do prefer the white stairs over the dark brown.  The walls look creamy white – but I do wonder if that is correct. 

Diana’s lobby with the door opening to the stairhall.

Today, the landing is now a light moss color.  Diana’s carpeting is long gone replaced with hardwoods which are very strangely light while the rooms have dark hardwoods.   Her pink and blue study is now a reception room, seen behind Harry.

Another view of the staircase today – the stucco on the walls is very different than Lady Granville’s.   The inspiration for the additional stucco work was taken from works by Wren.

The Dining Room.  This was once Diana’s pink and blue study where she spent most of her time.   Lady Granville used this room to eat her meals.  Notice the pretty fireplace mantel – marble, designed by Kent.  The shiny tiles don’t seem original.  The door and surround is exactly the same as it is today.  I love the plates above the door.  Notice the chinoiserie chest to the left of the fireplace.  I wish these photos were in color and that we could see the dining table!!!      

Through the open door is the stair landing.

The portrait on the mantel is the Earl’s great grandfather:

Granville Leveson-Gower, 1st Marquess of Stafford

This photo of Diana’s sitting room shows the same view as Lady Granville’s.  The door retains the same exact moldings, which must have survived the blitz.  It is really a shame that Diana put stickers on the mantel, but they obviously came off.   The shiny tiles are long gone. Diana didn’t use her fireplace – she kept dried flowers in them instead.

The rooms in Apartment 9 (Diana’s bed and bathroom, etc.)  were added on for the original tenant, the Duchess of Kendal.    At the same time, in Apartment 10, the King’s grandchildren received extra rooms too. Today, those extra rooms give Princess Michael much needed space. 

An early version of the study before it became a cluttered mess – with creams and yellows.  I love the pink sofas and can’t help but think they would look good today.

In the new photos, it looks like Diana had the bookcases painted a cream shade.   They look so much prettier here in a soft shade of white.

Today – Same View:   The fabric wallcovering has been removed and the carpet is gone – the hardwoods were restored in this room used by Kate, William & Harry for receptions. 

Through the door is the stair landing and Charles’s study on the right.  Straight ahead on the landing past the stairs is a door that opens to an elevator and Diana’s bedroom and dressing room – which are actually Apartment 9. 

This shows how large Diana’s sitting room really was.  The room seems very big without all the furniture and shelves and clutter.

When a conference is held, a table is brought in.  The door behind Kate leads to Diana’s lovely yellow Drawing Room.

Diana’s Drawing Room:

This beautiful fireplace was in Lady Granville’s Library – which was actually Diana’s Drawing Room.       It is a very large room so it’s interesting that it was chosen to be the library.  Perhaps it was also a sitting/reading room.  Since the entire library is not shown, I assume the walls were lined with shelves, probably bookshelf cabinets.  In fact, you can just barely see one such bookshelf at the immediate left of the mantel.  At the right, is a short bookshelf.   If you look closely, you can see a faint damask type pattern on the wallcovering.  I assume it is either dark red or dark green.  Any guesses from you?  When was color film invented?

It was invented in 1935 – 7 years after this article was written!  Dang it! 

As for Granville’s beautiful fireplace, I do wonder if these tiles are new or if this is exactly how they were in Duchess Kendal’s day?   The mantel is large, almost 6 ft tall which is why Diana and Charles look even taller than it.   It was designed by William Kent and is an almost exact copy of another fireplace he designed for Houghton Hall:

The gorgeous library at Houghton Hall, interiors designed by William Kent.   No tiles.  Perhaps this is how Diana’s fireplace originally looked.  Just gorgeous!!!!

NOTICE:  To the left of the fireplace is a door.  To the right is a door frame with books inside instead of a door.  Symmetry!  I do wonder if the frame on the right is a secret door?

This fireplace further confirmed that William Kent was the architect/designer of the north wing in Kensington Palace.  But it wasn’t the only fireplace by Kent.

There was this one at Hoakum Hall.

And here!!!  Princess Margaret’s dining room at Apartment #1.  You can see the distinctive scrolls at the side of her fireplace designed by Kent.  He really loved those scrolls!  Is this original to the apartment or was it added by the Duke or Louise or Margaret herself?  Lovely room!

A corner in the Library which looks suspiciously very familiar.  Notice the window seats and side panels.  And notice the rolled molding above the door with its intricate carvings.  This same rolled molding is still seen today throughout the apartment, over its doors.

AND, notice, yet another bookshelf which confirms that the library had bookshelves, probably wall to wall.   Underfoot is a very large area rug that most likely covers the entire space.

Finally, notice the pretty grill at the base.  This has been replaced today with radiator covers, but this grill is so pretty and hopefully might inspire designers today.

About the bookcases – these are Georgian and Charles was particularly besotted with them.   He had them in his study – those that weren’t destroyed in the blitz.

Here is that same corner in the Drawing Room, near the door that leads into Diana’s pink and blue study.  Only the swing of the door has changed.

Oh to be hired to decorate this room!

I do wonder where the tapestry is today?  With Charles?


I checked Charles’ Garden Room at Clarence House thinking it was the same tapestry, but no.  It isn’t.  Charles’ tapestry is much more suited for his room with its Arabian theme.  In fact, Diana’s would look rather out of place here.  Since Robert Kime decorated Clarence House, it’s obvious he made the perfect choice of tapestries.  But… WHERE is Diana’s???  Maybe it’s in Kate & Will’s Dining Room at Apt. 1A.

Back to Lady Granville:

Back to Lady Granville’s Library, the magazine took a photograph of this corner, which must be particularly enticing as Diana used this same corner for another photograph in her Drawing Room:

Here Diana and her boys posed in that same exact spot.  I love the silk taffeta shades.  And notice please the paint treatment on the door!  It reminds me of the three paint formula that O & S used in their Guernsey house:  cream, white, lighter cream.  It looks very much the same. 

Another look at the Library fireplace with its Kent marble mantel and THOSE distinctive scrolls on the sides, with the two bookcases flanking it.   These tiles were also removed by Diana and Charles.

The view toward the fireplace.  Through that door is the dining room, during Diana’s time.  You can just barely see the side scrolls at the bottom of the mantel in this photograph.

And Diana & Charles in front of their fireplace.   In this photo, you can’t see the scrolls at all.

We’ve seen the front door, the stairhall, the dining room, and the library.  Where is the drawing room?

Diana’s drawing room was of course Lady Granville’s library.  

And Charles’ study was Lady Granville’s drawing room.

While Diana’s sitting room overlooked the north and the cute cottages across the drive, Charles’ study overlooked the back courtyard – the  Prince’s Court.  When he moved out, Diana turned the room into a TV room for the boys.

 Up the staircase, you reached a door right off the landing.  While Diana’s study was the door to the right, Charles study was the door on the left.   And this room was Rose’s fancy Drawing Room.

Centuries before, this was the room where the Royal Mistress Duchess of Kendal entertained and dined with King George I,  and later Henrietta Howard and then Amalie the Countess of Yarmouth visited with their King George II.

For Lady Granville, it was where she received guests and had drinks, later they moved right next door for dinner.  When dinner was over, they would walk into the adjoining Library for after-dinner drinks.

The highlight of the Drawing Room was the mantel, which was even taller than the one in Lady Granville’s library.  This stone was darker, a gray marble.  The tiles are similar to the ones in the other rooms.   Above the mantel is a raised frame on brackets to draw attention to the painting.   Additional raised molding is found along the room.  A set of porcelains stand on the mantel and French sconces flank the painting, which is owned by Lady Granville.  The painting depicts the Westminster Bridge and Montagu House by Samuel Scott.  Another set by Scott of the same views hangs in Kensington Palace’s King Galleries.

The only photograph of Charles’ study which was taken by Diana’s butler Paul Burrell a few days after she died.  She kept it much as it was during Charles time with the chairs and table.  But she probably added the rug and she definitely added the TV for the boys.  Through the door is a small library for Charles.   I wonder what that room would have been used for during the Mistresses time and Lady Granville?

And it was in this study, Lady Granville’s Drawing Room and Charles study, where Diana gave her famous interview stating “There were three people in this marriage.”  

The room was cleaned up quite a bit for the show and her two green French chairs from her study were brought in for the interview.  A surprise was the high boy, most likely a valuable antique.

And I love the brass fender with its red pattern.

Today, the room shows how it might have been a beautiful Drawing Room, overlooking the back courtyard, during the Mistresses and Lady Granville’s day.  The dark wood floors are back with an Oriental rug, which is a bit too new looking.   But the floors are SUCH an improvement over the wall to wall carpet.    The walls are painted a neutral beige.  The trim was all painted the same color, but in olden days, it was most likely painted a lighter shade in order to highlight it.

A close up of the gray marble mantel and the picture frame that looks like it is held up with corbels.

The side of the room with two doors that open to an internal hall.

And as in the former Dining Room, a table is brought in here for a meeting.  Such a beautiful room!   You can see how pretty it is and how special it is, as it was designed for the King’s favorite mistress.

Diana’s Dining Room was not included in the Country Life article.   Not sure what this room was during Lady Granville, but it might have been her bedroom.  Not seen here, but the crown moldings in this dining room look nothing like the other main rooms – they are rather plain, which leads me to think this may have been her bedroom or another room not seen by guests.

Such a pretty view with the cream walls and red curtains with lovely trim – all perfectly designed and hung by Diana’s designer Dudley Poplak.  Later they painted the walls a deep red which was not nearly as attractive as the cream.  That painting!!!!!

A rare photo of  Dudley Poplak in what appears to be a loft styled, one room apartment, most likely in an attic.  Filled with antiques, there is a bed against the wall and a sofa against another with a pair of French chairs.  The desk has a black leather top tooled in gold.  Notice the pair of pagodas.  The console is French with wire doors and a checked linen liner.  Beautiful double wood doors and at the very left is what is probably a small round table for tea.

In the 1928 Country Life article, much is written about these rooms – Diana’s bedroom and her dressing room which are actually Apartment #9.  These were added a few years after apartment #8 was built by George I for his mistress, The Duchess of Kendal.   At the same time, the King ordered a few rooms for his granddaughters – where Princess Michael lives today.

The other  side of her dressing room over look’s NOT the Prince’s Courtyard, but the Princesses Court where Princess Michael now lives.  When Diana added her roof garden, Princess Michael got extremely jealous and asked for one herself.  The problem is that her roof garden now looks directly into Apartment #9 and Diana complained that Princess Michael was spying on her.

This photograph came from the 1928 Country Life article, showing the Prince’s Court.  At this time it was the back door to Lady Granville’s apartment.  Today – Kate & William & Harry again use the back door as the front.  Guests come to their receptions and meetings through the back courtyard, just like in the Mistresses days. 

Today, the view towards other direction.   Through that back door, one enters the Princess Court, then the Queen’s Gallery.   To the right of the back door is Apartment #9, while to the left is #8.   In the Mistresses days – the Kings George I and II would slink around the back stairs to reach this apartment block.  It was from this that the term “backstairs gossip” was coined as the servants would have to hide while the Kings were using their service stairs.   The intrigue!!!

Here you can see the Prince’s Court with its lone Magnolia tree.  There’s an old fountain behind the athletes.  Kate and William own another apartment – one of these on the Prince’s Courts which allows them to move from their Apartment #1A on Clock Court to the offices in Apartment 8 – without having to walk all the way around. 

I just do not understand why these two courtyards are not landscaped better!!!  It’s obvious they have a ability, judging from the Sunken Garden and other public areas. These two courtyards could be fabulous!!!   Let’s start a petition to the Queen!!!

The Princesses Court with Prince Michael is really awfully landscaped, but this is a very old photo.   I’m sure Kate & William & Harry have spruced it up for their visitors who have to enter this court first to get to Apartment 8.

A plan showing #1A and the second 1A owned by Kate & William so they can easily and most importantly, securely, walk from their apartment to their offices in #8. 

Apartment #7

In the beginning, #7 was to become offices for Diana and Charles, but that never happened.  There hasn’t been much said about #7 in a long time, but earlier last century – it was the center of Royal Life at Kensington Palace.

Princess Victoria, The Marchioness of Milford Haven

While the Royal Mistresses lived in Kensington Palace #8, there was no written documentation of who lived in #7.   But when Country Life featured Lady Granville in #8, her neighbor was the Marchioness of  Milford Haven,  Prince Philip’s grandmother! 

Victoria, the Marchioness, was also a granddaughter of Queen Victoria.  Her husband Louis died in 1921 and she moved into #7 the next year remaining until her death in 1950.  At that time, Kensington Palace was filled with the grown children and grandchildren of Queen Victoria.

The two sisters:  Princess Victoria & Alix, the Tsarina of Russia.

When Victoria’s husband Louis died, King George V offered Princess Victoria Apartment #7 at Kensington.  She and Queen Mary came to Kensington together to make sure the apartment was nice enough.  For much needed renovations, the Queen helped with the costs.    Queen Mary and Victoria were best of friends and remained so until Mary died.

When Princess Victoria passed away in 1950, she was the last grandchild of Queen Victoria.  A godmother to Prince Charles, her life was one of old world royalty.  Incredibly, her sister was the Tsarina Alexandra who was killed with her entire family by the Bolsheviks in Russia.  A second sister of theirs, Grand Duchess Elisabeth, was also killed at the same time.  I find it fascinating to think that the sister of the Tsarina of Russia lived in Apt. #7 next to where Diana lived years later.  Amazing to me!!!

Victoria’s daughters were Queen Louise of Sweden and Princess Andrew of Greece who was the mother of Prince Philip.  Her son was Lord Mountbatten of Burma – India Hicks great grandfather.   Many of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren were titled.  Was there anyone in the royal family Princess Victoria wasn’t closely related to?


An elderly Princess Victoria at the left, was named Godmother to Prince Charles.  Margaret, on the right, cracks me up here!  She looks miserable!!!


Princess Victoria’s grandson Prince Philip lived on and off with his grandmother at Apartment 7.    David Milford Haven, Philip’s best man and first cousin, lived there too.  The boys had rooms in the attic which allowed them to sneak in and out through the rooftops at night to avoid security.

A royal wedding send-off at Apartment #7:

Princess Victoria, second at left, outside her apartment #7, going to the wedding of her daughter Louise to the King of Sweden.

The same wedding send-off in front of Apartment #7.  Here are Princess Victoria’s son and grandchildren who were most likely in the wedding, hence his little sailor suit.   The sailor boy is, David,  who would later grow up to be Philip’s best man at his wedding.


Off to marry Elizabeth!!!!!

Right before his marriage to Elizabeth, Philip and his mother were staying there with Princess Victoria – their mother and grandmother.  Victoria’s other grandson, the little Sailor Boy, David, now grown up was living there too.   Philip and his best man David leave for the church from Apartment #7.

The greeters must be workers from Kensington Palace – some of the men had coveralls and garden tools with them.

At the left is Apartment 8, Diana’s apartment, and where Lady Granville was then living.   I wish there were photos of her at the wedding!    At this time – this road was opened to the palace and cars drove down this street from both ways.  Today of course, the street is a short, dead end – bricked off at the Palace for security reasons.

Princess Alice of Greece, Phillip’s mother leaves from Apt. 7 for his wedding to Elizabeth. 

Philip’s mother had a rather unusual life.  She was born in Windsor Castle in the presence of her great grandmother, Queen Victoria.  She was born deaf, but learned to lip read and talk in several languages.  Philip’s poor mother was a troubled soul who suffered terribly from schizophrenia.  She was married and had four children, but she spent long years away from  her family in institutions recovering.  As a boy, Philip spent his time off from boarding school with his grandmother at Kensington Palace.  He was the youngest at the Palace and all the Royal Aunts doted on him.   After years in institutions, Alice started a religious order becoming an Orthodox nun.   The family asked that she not wear her habit at the wedding and I’m assuming she borrowed this nice outfit from her mother, Princess Victoria.   The order later disbanded after many nuns left it.

Back home in Greece during WWII, she worked to save Jewish families from the Holocaust and was honored at Yad Vashem as "Righteous Among the Nations."   She was buried in Israel as she requested.

Prince Philip photographed in Windsor Castle.  At the end of this corridor is the Tapestry Room where his mother Princess Andrew of Greece and her mother, the Princess Victoria, were both born in front of Queen Victoria.   Philip’s father was Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark and his great grandfather was the King of Denmark.  This photograph honors his Danish roots – his uniform is Danish and he is standing in front of a painting of Queen Victoria and her family painted by the famed Danish artist Laurits Regner Tuxen.  One of the white busts is of his mother Princess Andrew.

Finally, the elder Princess Victoria went to Broadlands, her son Lord Louis Mountbatten’s estate, for a few years.  Sensing the end was near, she asked to return to Kensington Palace where she died shortly after.

Queen Elizabeth & Prince Philip celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary at Broadlands, the former home of his uncle, Lord Louis Mountbatten – where they had spent their wedding night, all those years ago.  That day, Philip left Kensington Apartment #7 and woke up the next morning at Broadlands. 

Prince Charles says his mentor was his great-uncle Lord Louis who was tragically killed by an IRA terrorist bomb.

Which makes us wonder – is this why the new Cambridge Prince is named Louis?  In honor of his grandfather and great-grandfather’s favorite uncle?


Apartment #7 today?

After Princess Victoria died, there is nothing written about anyone living there afterwards or now.  Most likely a member of the staff lives in the apartment today.

Finally, it was fascinating to learn that entire north wing of Kensington Palace was built in order to provide King George’s mistress a place to live close enough for him to visit her everyday.  If he had never ordered that wing to be built – what would the Palace look like today?


  1. Wonderful! I enjoyed this so much, Joni! Thank you.

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  2. Loved this history lesson Joanie. I agree with you about the courtyards! REALLY?!! I am always afraid to come read your posts because I end up shopping your sidebar! I wonder if anyone else has this problem. I always think of you whenever I wear linen and your love for it. I am obsessed with CP Shades these days!! Great post!!

    1. /hahah!!! I love CP Shades too! I love the way you dress. I have fun on the sidebar myself.

  3. Great history lesson . You did a great search. Amazing about the mistress

  4. An apartment that is at least 10 rooms is too small for Princess Blackamoor.
    What a turd.

    1. What a truly horrible, vile, and bigoted person you are. Spread your hate somewhere else.

    2. Wait just a minute...she (Princess Michael) was the one that was so insensitive as to wear the Blackamoor brooch to meet Meghan Markle, not me.
      You're confused.

    3. exactly! Princess Michael wore her HUGE antique blackamoor pin when she went to meet Meghan M. at Windsor for the first time. She was photographed in her car with her HUGE pin on and the press went wild with outrage. It was so horrible that Princess Michael was force to publicly apologize - something she has never done before that I can recall. She is also the royal who told a table filled with African Americans in NYC that they needed to go back to the colonies.=
      She is most surely a vile person although she has really great taste! I'll hand her that!!!!

    4. Anonymous 3:22 is confused and did not understand my anon 2:25 comment Apparently she didn't read the blog post or she would have read who the person is who complains about her too small apartment. (Princess Michael) And I would say she also didn't read the one awhile back where Joni went into the controversy about the Blackamoor brooch which would have been the second clue as to what I was referring to.
      She jumped to something incorrect and ugly without understanding what was being said. She should apologize.

  5. So how many hos, exactly lived there and had new homes built with the British people's money? I lost count.

  6. I love this post, and for me it is very timely because I am leaving for London in 17 days on my semi-annual trip to see the Chelsea Flower Show. I usually stay at a small hotel near Hyde Park and because I am an early riser, I spend many mornings walking near Kensington Palace (I am convinced that I once saw Lupo). This time I ordered tickets for the Diana fashion exhibit in the palace and will enjoy spying out the public areas even more. Thank you, Madeline

  7. wow! Lupo!!! with the nanny? I would just hang out there 24/7 but I doubt with all the fences now you would see any royals?

    1. I suggest not hanging out "24/7" in London. You could get stabbed, robbed by gangs on cycles, or have acid thrown in your face, or, yes, even shot these days.
      Please stay in only the best neighborhoods (not fail safe either) and turn in early. Then high tail it for the countryside ASAP.
      London is not what it used to be.

    2. I don't think people hanging out around Kensington are the ones getting stabbed. I think those are the ones confined to areas where the less fortunate live.

    3. You sound vey naïve, Joni. Even statistics from several years ago do not tell the story of the current situation as far as murders go. London surpassed New York for this years murders just a few weeks ago.
      And the "less fortunate" come to where they can rip off the tourists.

  8. You are the gift that keeps on giving.

  9. Thank you for sharing, we are honored..

  10. I had to make another comment, to thank you for the photo's you have shown us to. Your so kind. We wish and want the best for you in all things..

  11. Princess Diana. I am just a year younger and I watched in fascination as she became a bride. She was becoming what I, over here in the middle of The United States, could not even dream about, a princess. Her clothes. Her jewelry. She rubbed shoulders with Elton! She had 2 beautiful blond sons.
    I was visiting my in laws when Diana died. I was stunned. It was unreal.
    This post is so great. Thank you so much. I understand our Princess a little better. To see where she lived is very meaningful, and know some of the history behind the rooms. I wonder how history will now play out with her 2 blond boys.

  12. Another fascinating story and the pictures were wonderful. Thank you so much for all the research you do. To glimpse inside Diana's private rooms was an added bonus. I can picture her running up those wonderful stairs.

  13. Dear Joni, I always read & re-read your posts & love them all. I am lucky to have visited Kensington Palace and had Tea in the Orangery three times with various family members and I am so happy that Prince William & Prince Harry have now made it their home & as a result it is more vibrant. I remember in 1998 visiting my daughter studying in England that is seemed so sad with Princess Diana just gone a year & now it is exciting again with all of her children & grandchildren living there. The exhibits are always so wonderful & that pulls me back each time. LOVE all of the history & answering all of my questions since I am such a history buff. Thanks Again!!!!

    1. It seems like such a great place to visit, all the shows and exhibits. And to think that Queen Victoria grew up there. We have nothing like that here except for the White House, I guess?

  14. Lush and awesome as always - never stop blogging! I am lucky enough to have known the blog from the very beginning.

  15. Meanwhile, in a related story, Eugenie and her fiancé have moved into Ivy Cottage next door to Harry and Meghan.

  16. May we please have pics of the bedroom that Di sneaked her lovers into?

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  18. Wow, lots of trolls and snake oil salesmen here. What holes did they crawl out of?
    A little clarification on a few points: The tiara pear shaped diamonds are mounted en tremblant so that they move when the wearer moves. Many pins of the period were made that way too, only they used a sort of spring to allow the jewels to move, thereby giving them more opportunity to catch the light and sparkle. I love jewelry made that way. Scarab jewelry was very popular in the 19th century and there is still a lot of it around. Ladies used beetle wings to decorate their dresses and fans also. It's Holkham Hall, not Hoakum Hall. I once ran into Princess Michael of Kent at the Grosvenor House antique show. She was speaking very loudly to be sure that everyone noticed her. The royals call her Princess Pushy. The "picture frame held up by corbels" is not a picture frame at all, but an overmantel. Thank you for another well done post. The diagrams make it all make sense. I once lived near Kensington Palace and used to pass it almost every day.

    1. Yes, trolls, snake oil salesmen, and a know-it-all or two.

    2. I ignore the trolls, what bothers me is their waste of internet bandwidth. As for the know-it-alls, many contribute to interesting information I did not know before. Some info are useful and some I used to smilingly call info that goes into my brain file for useless information but then I realized that if they were interesting/fun tidbits to know they became intrinsically useful.

    3. Thanks for all your thoughts. For EVER I thought 7 was 8 and 9 was 8. It wasn't until halfway through when I read about someone living in 7 - and then it finally all made sense. I could never figure out how 9 fit in because it was just the back bedrooms.

      Thanks for the info about the tiara. Isn't it gorgeous?!??? Victoria's are so pretty too.

      Thank you again for all your info!!!!

    4. Huh? 7 was 8, 9 was 8...? Was this an answer to a different comment?

    5. If you enjoy tiaras of royal provenance, there is a splendid blog that writes all about them called The Royal order of Sartorial Splendour. It's incredibly informative about tiaras from different royal families. That said there are many blogs devoted to various aspects of royal life and jewels, but for sheer fun and whimsy, the royal order of sartorial splendour is tops.

  19. Have you thought about writing a blog, Cynthia?

    1. Thank you, yes, I have. Most of my friends have wonderful blogs, like The Glam Pad, Pigtown Design, and many others. But I don't have what it takes to be a good blogger, and that is dedication, a lot of discipline, and a bit of time. Joni has it in spades, and her posts are a delight. They are are so enlightening and well thought out and researched. Blogging is very hard work, and it takes a special sort of person to be good at it, so thank you Joni, and the other wonderful bloggers, for giving us a nice present every time we open our emails. It makes the day happier for me, and I enjoy what you do so much. Bravo.

  20. Joni, we have a programme called Countryfile on BBC that usually broadcasts all things countrysiide. On 24 July this summer, they are going to broadcast a series of programmes showing Balmoral, Sandrigham and Windsor. Apparently they were granted special permission to film inside the houses. If you can get BBC or PBS, it will be an interesting peek inside those houses.

  21. Wow. This was amazing. But of all the details you tracked down, the one that made me laugh out loud was when you mused about the colors that might have been in a room that was photographed in black and white, and you wondered when color film was invented...and then you answered the question! You are just so adorable in your thoroughness. Don't ever stop writing!

  22. Replies
    1. Nothing like shamelessly plugging your business on somebody else's blog, eh? Fie on you.

  23. Wonderful. Thank you so much for taking the time to give us these wonderful in depth posts. No one does a better job. I learn a ton of new information every single time.

  24. Thankyou for such an interesting article,
    the sad elderly Princess Victoria,
    oh dear, she obviously suffered so much from her loss of 2 sisters in such a cruel way.
    One would never get over something like that.

  25. There were five people shot this weekend in London, several acid attacks, and one fatal stabbing. Welcome to the capital.

  26. Thank you. Think you have chosen the wrong profession (rather presumptuous of me I know) and perhaps architecture or interior design might be your second profession. Loved the article and your additional comments. Who knew! Certainly throws a bit more light on the childhood of Prince Phillip.

  27. Thank you for this wonderful article. It is taking quite a while to get through it, as I am trying to really take it in. One tiny factual error, though: the glorious Fife Tiara which is presently on display at the Palace was owned by a different Louise. It was given to Princess Louise of Wales, Duchess of Fife and later Princess Royal on her marriage to the Earl/Duke of Fife. This Louise was the daughter of Edward VII, and therefore the niece of the Louise who was resident at Kensington Palace. To the best of my knowledge that Louise did not live at KP, but I have not researched her very exhaustively. I know her husband was a Scottish Peer and they lived up there. However, no doubt they had a residence in London. Perhaps at KP!


  28. Incredible scenes. Thank you for sourcing such insightful photographs!

    The one thing that sticks out to me from this is that Diana had a large portrait of herself hung where her, and her visitors would walk past it everyday, greeting anyone who arrived there.

    Perhaps it's just me, but I would never, no, never hang a large portrait or photograph of myself anywhere in my home! Especially not in the entrance hall!

  29. Thank you for such a delightful article.
    But you have big error that deserves to be corrected. That’s not a photography of Prince Philipp but instead a painting (2017) from the Australian painter Ralph Heimans (1970). Prince Philipp is not wearing a Danish uniform, its the so called “Windsor Uniform” with is characteristic scarlet collar and cuffs.
    Two big and important details from this portrait that deserves to be mentioned, Prince Philipp wears the sash of the Order of the Elephant, Denmark’s highest-ranked honour, and another Danish reference is the “Flora Danica” terrine service, from the Royal Copenhagen porcelain factory.
    Once again, congratulations for your research and sharing with us all details.
    Thank you.

  30. What a great post! Thank you so much for taking the time to write it and for including so many photos and details. I'm just curious but do you know what the black rectangle piece at the top of the mantle in Charles’ study/Lady Granville’s drawing room/Diana's TV room is? Forgive me if it's a dumb question! Thanks!

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  32. How do you always come up wit the most interesting information and photographs? And your recreation of the Wales's apartment floor plan! Fantastic. Answers so many questions.
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