We have a minimally heated mud room/entrance on the north side of the house. This provides a transition zone from the outside to the inside, so that the cold air from outside never makes direct contact with the warm interior air. It also provides us with a place to put on and take off our shoes, as well as a place to store our footwear and jackets.
Because we built up instead of out, we can take advantage of rising heat from the masonry stove to heat the upstairs rooms. An open floor plan in the living room, kitchen, and dining area allows for the even and efficient circulation of heat downstairs. Since we like our bedroom and guest bedroom to be moderately cool for sleeping, we situated these rooms farthest from the heater and keep their doors closed.
The house is longer than it is wide (47’ x 22’). This allows us to have a large southern exposure in every room except our small study and half bath. Sometimes, during very cold weather, we do use a back up hydronic heater in these rooms. Most of the time the masonry heater is our only source of heat, and by burning 3-4 cords of wood per year the downstairs rooms average 75 degrees.
The simple, logical design of the house extends to smaller details as well. To avoid feeling cramped and to facilitate wheelchair access if need be, we designed all hallways and stairs to be at least 3 feet wide. Our basement level crawlspace has windows, allowing for natural light during the day. The house has two toilets, one downstairs next to the study, and one upstairs next to our bedroom, a rather convenient set up. Finally, a timber frame allows for an adaptable floor plan, since none of the walls are weight-bearing (the timber posts themselves bear the weight). Therefore, we can tear down and rebuild any interior walls at a later date if our needs should change.