Nothing compares to the pleasure of huddling next to a woodstove and watching the flames dance through the glass. The big drawbacks are the mess and the smoke, especially the smoke. It coats the ceiling, creates dust, and is not healthy to breathe. There are solutions if you think outside the box.
One obvious solution is to have a wood boiler in the basement, the garage, or ideally in an insulated room next to the woodshed. Indoor wood boilers are quiet, efficient, and, according to many studies, more economical to run than an oil burner. You could even recreate the coziness of a woodstove by running very hot water through pipes under a tile or concrete bench, like the old tile Russian stoves. My grandfather, now a robust 101, has a cast iron radiator in his kitchen. There is nothing that compares to coming in from the cold and sitting on that radiator until you can’t take the heat.
Another solution, that I’ve never actually seen, except in a sauna, is to have a stove that loads from the back. You would benefit from both the heat and the beauty of the flames from the living room while confining the mess to the mudroom/entry from where you load the stove.
Imagine having a rear loading Russian oven in your kitchen. You could use it for baking, enjoy the flames through a glass window, and as a bench warmer! The back side, where you load the oven, would be in an entry, mudroom, or a butler’s pantry. Click here to see images and set your imagination free. Envision a beautiful tile or soapstone Russian oven in your kitchen!
I love our woodstove, mess, smoke and all but in my dream house I’ll be able to bake with wood heat, curl up and read on a heated bench, and enjoy the flames without the mess. Ahhhhhh! Winter can be wonderful!