Home truths: cosy vs open plan in winter?

PUBLISHED: 13:00 23 December 2015 | UPDATED: 13:00 23 December 2015

A cosy cottage is a big draw in winter

A cosy cottage is a big draw in winter


As the thermometer plummets a warm home holds much appeal. Is this the season when a cosy cottage trumps contemporary open-plan living? Matthew Craker of Fine & Country, Brookmans Park weighs up the options

In winter, thoughts turn to getting home from cold and wet weather to cosy surroundings, and shutting out the elements in a rural cottage sounds ideal for the long winter haul. This time of year, smaller can seem much better. A cosy space conjures up deep ingranied images of winter evenings spent by a crackling fire, the warmth chasing the chill from your toes as you snuggle under a throw in a quaint sitting room that may have seemed too small to contain the joys of the warmer months. Now, you are grateful for the smaller space which means lower heating bills and quick warmth.

But what of the modern open-plan home? Does it become a wintry regret? There’s no denying that knocking down walls to create open-plan spaces in older properties, while increasing light and sense of space, can result in heating problems. Older properties in general tend to feature rooms designed to be heated with an open fire. Take the walls down and drafts can be an issue, creating a permanent chill in the air. The lesson for homeowners is to consider the seasons before undertaking major renovations such as this. Naturally, there are plenty of heating options that can compensate for open-plan living styles, but these often need to be installed at an early stage, so plan accordingly.

For home buyers, winter can be the best time to house hunt. Viewing properties now will give you an accurate picture of your potential new home in the least favourable months. Do remember to ask the current owners about heating options and costs so that you don’t receive an unwelcome surprise when the days cool.

Open-plan doesn’t have to mean cold, though. Contemporary properties are often designed with variable weather conditions in mind and there are plenty of ways of reducing heat loss. Good insulation, double-glazed windows, shutters or heavy drapes and efficient heating options will all help keep you toasty when the temperature drops.

Radiant heat from hot water pipes running along joists or through concrete-slab flooring can keep a home warm from the toes up and for the more spacious open home, such as those with vaulted ceilings, a wood or electric boiler or on-demand water heater can be an efficient solution. Alternatively, wood, pellet or hybrid heating systems are a good choice for homes without walls to get in the way. Standard heat pumps are also a possibility, as they turn cool air into warm air and geothermal or ground-source heat pumps take the heat that’s naturally stored underground for use in the heating process. In climates such as the UK that don’t experience extreme temperature swings, an open-plan home is an ideal candidate for a heat pump.

Whatever style of home you choose, remember winter and think about how the property is heated. That way you can be assured of a snug night in, whether it’s in a naturally cosy cottage or a well-warmed open-plan home.

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