Building the heart of the home: Stoves in open or broken-plan living spaces

Don‘t get caught out by the cold next winter: Tips from Swedish wood burning stove company, Contura, for homeowners carrying out renovations this spring/summer.

The popularity of open-plan living continues to go from strength to strength, whilst a more recent take on the open-plan interior is the trend of ‘broken-plan’ living - using open plan spaces cleverly to create zones for different uses.

So with home renovation season upon us, Phil Wood, Contura country manager for the UK and Ireland, provides guidance on the use and installation of stoves to create cosy spaces and statement features within open or broken plan rooms or extensions.

“With the rise and rise of open-plan living and the emergence of the new trend to break up open plan spaces by creating distinct zones for different uses, a wood burning stove is an increasingly desirable feature.

“Not only is a stove a piece of ‘hot furniture’ that ticks the design or aesthetics box in a slick new extension, but it is also practical and functional, fulfilling the home’s heating needs and creating a cosy focal point around which to plan the room layout.

“With these spaces the ones that we spend the majority of our time in, it makes sense to bring the ritual of gathering around the fire out of the more traditional or formal sitting room and into the heart of the home.

“The trend of opening up the rear of a property into an all-purpose family focused kitchen-diner-reception room, very often involving a rear and/or side-return extension, creates the perfect space for freestanding stoves, which, thanks to the introduction of steel chimney systems in the last few years, no longer require connection to an existing fireplace or chimney breast for installation.

“If installing a log burner near the kitchen, it is important to be aware that extractor fans can sometimes cause issues with air supply to stoves. Using a Direct External Air Supply (DEAS) in this case is paramount. It means that the stove combustion technology will get all of its air supply via the DEAS when an extractor is or could be in use.

“The Contura DEAS provides all the combustion air through a purpose-made room-sealed kit, designed together with the stove, and is available on all models. An outside wall is required to install a DEAS, however, it may also be run under the floor slab to the underside of the stove, which is particularly useful in new-build properties and renovations where air-tightness around high insulation values and requirements is now the norm.

“There are a number of other factors to consider before selecting and installing a wood burner. Look for a stove that complements your home aesthetically, but also consider size and heat output. Open plan rooms will require stoves with larger heat chambers to sufficiently heat the space. Contura’s 600 Style series, for example, has a 3-9kW capacity, easily heating a room of up to 120sq metres with average insulation.

“For stoves above 5kW, a permanent air vent to the outside is required in the same room as the appliance to ensure enough oxygen is being supplied into the room to allow proper combustion in the stove.

“Choosing a stove material is also important and again, very much depends on the style of your property and the available space, as well as, of course, personal taste. The more modern soapstone, sandstone, tiled, aluminium or glass-fronted freestanding stoves will sit well in contemporary homes and will also contrast nicely against more rustic styled interiors. Sandstone & soapstone-clad stoves, and those equipped with heat-retaining bricks, work well in larger spaces in terms of efficiency, as the materials retain heat over a longer period – even after the fire has been extinguished.

“Planning permission to install a wood burning stove is not usually required, however, if your property is a Listed Building it may be. Depending on where your new flue pipework is positioned (e.g. external wall on side or front of house) you may need to check with the local Planning Department prior to installation.”

Share content