Warm weather is nice, but there’s something about a snowy landscape that is so enchanting. Nothing quite compares to the way it sparkles in the sun and glows in the moonlight. Colder climates can make for picturesque scenery, but they can also leave you with ice damns, slippery stairs, drafty interiors and – a homeowner’s nightmare – burst pipes. Homes that are located in regions with colder climates come with unique challenges. With these challenges, however, come opportunities for smart, sustainable home design. With winter still underway, here are some of the colder climate design ideas that we find inspiring.

How a home handles heavy snowfall will always come down to the roof. Metal roofs and asphalt shingles are a popular choice for homes in colder climates as they offer long-lasting durability, rarely leak, and easily shed snow. Homeowners can choose straightforward roof designs with simple gables and roofs positioned at the ridge. When it comes to roof design, no openings means no risky snow pileups. With a roof that smoothly deposits snow, it’s smart to incorporate ample space along the eaves of the roof to prevent tall snow banks.

Driveways, sidewalks, and stairs can be an accident or injury waiting to happen in freezing temperatures. A system that heats frequently-used pathways is a smart design feature that ensures safety. An alternative to heated walkways are ones that are simply designed for easy shoveling. Railings can also be added along stairways that also enhance porch and exterior designs. Covered entrances make it safer and more comfortable for both household members and guests. Front doors can feature porticos or covered porches, for instance, and other entrances can even be designed with breezeways.

Well-insulated pipes are one of the single most important design considerations for protecting interiors from freezing temperatures. Homes can also be designed and built with south-facing windows that optimize sunlight and cut energy consumption and costs. Even the types of windows are important to achieving a sustainable and practical home design. Fixed, awning, or casement windows are best for colder climates.

For ultimate, barefoot-friendly comfort, homes can be designed with a radiant heating system. This type of system takes advantage of surfaces – including floors, walls, ceilings, and even furnishings like mirrors – to radiate heat and create cozy living spaces. These systems can be used during the summer months for eco-friendly and cost-effective cooling. Solar panels and efficient woodstoves are two additional colder climate design ideas that are worth looking into.

Whether you are looking to update an existing home or build and design a new home, TMS Architects in New England would love to help you achieve a beautiful, functional and eco-friendly design. Contact us to learn about our home design services.