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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Log sauna

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

Long and low, this log-walled sauna has room for very deep benches. Lie down and stretch out on wedge-shaped wooden backrests (leaning against the back wall).


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