Our rustic cabin near Hayward, Wis., cried out for a classic wood-burning sauna that would be built close to the lake and new outdoor shower. After studying dozens of great Scandinavian, Canadian and U.S. designs over six months and watching numerous YouTube videos, we came up with a simple design.
Nestled in mature trees, with oversized windows on the south, west and north (for natural light AND the coveted sunsets), the sauna measures 8-by-14 feet, with a room height of 7. You step up on a simple 5-by-14 deck, walk through the wood plank farm door into a cooling room (6 by 8), which then leads to the wood-kiln dried, cedar-walled sauna (8 by 8). The sauna contains two extra-wide benches, floor space for the Finnish-built Helo sauna stove with rocks (surrounded by a stainless steel fire wall), the chopped wood, and the wood buckets used in a hand-shower. No plumbing, electricity or propane gas is needed. Also, there is no foundation, per se. A candlelit granite shelf underneath the antique window separating the sauna and cooling room provides the only artificial light. The exterior is clad in pine shiplap siding, and the old traditional green shingle roof has an oversized overhang to the east to shelter the piles of drying wood for the stove.
The crackle of burning oak/ironwood beats the silence of any commercial electric sauna. The 500-pound Hammerschlagen log guards the kerosene-lit lantern path that links the cabin, the outdoor shower or the lake to the sauna. The eucalyptus and pine oils in the water we use to douse the sizzling rocks provide aromatic hits. Stars, moon, and even at times raging weather accompany us as we run down to jump in the lake. In the cooling room, the old German cuckoo clock and fun art work provide great ambience when you need a break from the 194- to 203-degree Fahrenheit temperature and sit down on hand-hewn pine benches. And in the sauna, itself, we pleasantly bake, chat, laugh, and simply connect. All the toxins and stresses of the world just pour away.
Curt N. Peterson, Minnetonka