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In a small house, the stairway is a great place to create spatial drama, and needs room to breathe. On the other hand, reducing a stair to its minimum possible size makes room for other important spaces. These forces are not necessarily contradictory. My strategy is to make the stair as compact as possible, to save space; then bend the stair and leave some space around it, to create some drama. This article deals with the first step, making a compact stair. Next month I will sketch out some ways to make a compact stair graceful and exciting. Setting the Tread and Other Dimensions The first step in designing a stair is to set the dimensions of the treads and risers