Smart saunas

Design ideas to inspire your perfect cottage sauna

By Martin ZibauerMartin Zibauer

Though a sauna can be as simple as a room with a fire, there’s much you can do to improve the experience and make the sauna more efficient. If you’re hungry for more design ideas, Michael Nordskog’s new book, The Opposite of Cold, looks at the history and design of saunas in North America. The book focuses on the area surrounding the western Great Lakes–northwestern Ontario, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan–where many Finnish immigrants settled, starting slowly in the mid-19th century, with large groups arriving in Canada in the 1920s and 1950s.

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Plumbing by hand

Photo by Aaron W. Hautala, from The Opposite of Cold by Michael Nordskog

Unlike most saunas, which have low ceilings, this large space allows a third bench for those who like it really hot. A simple hand pump can conveniently provide enough water for washing and "löyly," the steam blast created by dousing the hot sauna rocks.


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