When designing our kitchen dining room extension, one of the biggest factors that we spent a lot of time discussing was, “Will it be warm enough in winter?”

We were creating a big, open plan room with a lot of doors and windows and a high vaulted ceiling. Would two radiators be enough? Where would be the best position to place our radiators to ensure even heating without compromising on the layout we wanted? Sitting at the table for breakfast on a cold winter morning, would we feel a draft from our big bifold doors?

We thought about it lots and lots, but looking back, all these worries seem silly now. Despite it’s size, our family room is by far the warmest room in the house. To think we were very close to choosing triple glazed bifold doors because we weren’t sure if double glazed would be warm enough seems like such an overboard idea to us now that we’ve been living with our extension for over half a year.

Our three roof windows ​and bifold doors actually seem to retain more heat than the walls, so my worries about drafty doors were completely unfounded. We have a large horizontal radiator at the back of the room, and a narrow vertical radiator at the other end of the room. Anything more than this would have been unnecessary. The kitchen kicks out extra heat at certain times of day when we are using the oven / preparing meals. And, as this room is south facing, direct sunlight on the glazing is enough to warm up the room, even in the depths of winter.

Despite being the largest room in our house, our kitchen extension is always a lovely and warm room. It’s funny to think that we gave so much thought to ensuring it was a warm room, when actually, it’s the other end of that spectrum, like the effects of direct sunlight, that actually need toning down at certain times of the year. Something like the roofwindow blinds from Solstro could be an option for better control of the light and heat and to minimise direct sunlight in our family room.

After living in our house and using our extension for seven months, I can really start to see the changes it’s made to our family life. We live a completely different way in this house than we did in our old house, with it’s small boxy rooms that meant every zone felt very separate.

In our kitchen / dining room extension, we are together a lot more. Sam and I have more conversations with each other. The children’s play has adapted to fit the space around them. The house doesn’t feel like a trap in winter – there is less need to get outside all the time, because they have a lot of space for their games inside.

As I write this, it is the middle of January, I’ve just dropped the children at school and preschool, and it’s minus temperatures outside. This is the time of year that I usually associate with dark, gloomy days. But it’s light in our family room right now. It’s always light in here and that is my absolute favourite thing about this room.

Until we moved, I hadn’t really realised how being predominantly at home, working from home, in small, dark rooms, had affected me. Winter no longer feels oppressive in the same way that it used to. Even though January is not an easy month to enjoy, I have noticed that I have more energy and less seasonal affective disorder. We didn’t create our kitchen dining room extension with any of this in mind, but now that we are living in it, it’s positive effect has been an incredible bonus.

During the planning stages for our extension, we chose big bifold doors that open out onto the garden, with the specific idea that in warmer weather we could create a seamless connection from house to garden, making the two spaces feel like one. I didn’t give as much thought to the room in winter, figuring it would be at it’s best in the summer time.

The best surprise to have come out of designing and building our extension is how great our family room feels in winter. We are no longer purely waiting for the summer months for the room to come into it’s element.

It’s very much proving to be our happy place in winter, too.

Thank you to roofwindows.co.uk for partnering with Sorry About The Mess. 

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