What’s the Best Way to Create a Home Spa with a Scandinavian Sauna Design?

For many, the idea of a sauna conjures up images of relaxing in a steam-filled wooden room, feeling the heat enveloping the body, and walking out as refreshed as ever. The sensation of warmth, of heat permeating the skin, is an experience that appeals to several senses at once. But what if you could enjoy this experience at home? This article delves into the best practices to build an authentic Finnish sauna at home, transforming your space into a soothing home spa.

The Basics of Finnish Saunas

Before we dive into the specificities of building a home sauna, it’s essential to understand what sets Finnish saunas apart. Originating from Finland, the sauna is a space heated up to high temperatures, so much so that bathers begin to sweat profusely.

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Using either a wood-burning stove or an electric heater, the Finnish sauna design typically has wooden interiors, and bathers sit on wooden benches. The heat source heats up rocks till they’re scorching hot, and water is poured over these rocks to generate steam. The humidity level, though, remains relatively low, allowing you to withstand the high heat.

Choosing the Right Space for Your Sauna

An important aspect of building a sauna at home is deciding where to put it. A good sauna room should be away from the hustle and bustle of the house yet accessible enough for use. When planning the space, consider how many people will be using it. The Finnish design recommends a minimum of 2 square meters for a two-person sauna.

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The location of the sauna is also crucial. It could be indoors in a bathroom or basement, or an outdoor unit in your garden. The choice depends on your preference and the availability of space. Remember, the sauna has to be installed where there is ventilation, and it’s relatively easy to run electricity and water.

Designing Your Sauna

Designing your sauna is an opportunity to blend functionality with aesthetics. A traditional Finnish design involves using wood, not only for the benches but also for the interiors. Cedar, hemlock, and spruce are popular wood choices, thanks to their durability and excellent heat retention properties.

The sauna heater is the heart of the setup. Electric heaters are the most common, but wood-fired heaters offer a more traditional experience. Ensure the heater is of an appropriate size for your sauna room. Too small, and it may not heat the room adequately; too large, and it will waste energy and lead to excessive heat.

Ensure the design includes an efficient ventilation system. The hot air needs to circulate properly; otherwise, it will lead to an uncomfortable experience. A well-planned sauna design should include an air intake near the heater to draw in fresh air, and an exhaust vent situated higher up to allow the hot air to escape.

Building Your Sauna

The actual construction of your sauna is a project that requires meticulous planning. Preparation involves installing insulation and vapor barriers, building the frame, and installing the wooden panels. After this, you can install the sauna heater and the rocks.

It’s important to remember safety during construction. The sauna should have a solid floor, either made of wood or tile, that is heat resistant and non-slippery. The bench design should be comfortable but also able to withstand the high heat and humidity.

Enjoying Your Sauna Experience

Now that your sauna is ready, it’s time to enjoy the fruits of your labor. Start by preheating the sauna to a comfortable temperature, typically between 70 and 100 degrees Celsius. Once the sauna has reached the desired temperature, it’s time to create the steam. This is done by sprinkling water onto the hot stones. The sudden rush of heat, known as löyly in Finnish, is what makes the sauna experience unique.

Remember, while saunas are generally good for your health, offering benefits such as improved circulation and better skin health, they are not recommended for everyone. If you have any health issues, especially heart-related concerns, it’s advisable to check with a doctor before using a sauna.

Overall, building your own home spa with a Scandinavian sauna design is a rewarding project. It gives you a space to relax, unwind, and enjoy the many benefits of a traditional Finnish sauna experience. So start planning, designing, and building your home spa today, and enjoy the pleasure of a sauna in the comfort of your own home.

Necessary Furnishings for Your Sauna

When it comes to outfitting your sauna, the traditional Finnish design is simple and functional. The staple of any sauna is wooden benches. These should be wide enough to sit or lie on comfortably, with the top bench typically being the hottest spot.

Most saunas include a changing room and an area for a cold plunge or shower. Alternating between the heat of the sauna and the cold plunge can have invigorating health benefits, stimulating circulation and aiding in muscle recovery.

If your sauna is outdoors, you could even use a nearby pond or pool for your cold plunge. In an indoor setup, a simple shower will suffice. Remember that an important part of the sauna experience is the ability to cool down between sessions, so this area should be as well thought out as the sauna itself.

Lighting in the sauna room is another crucial aspect. The lighting should be soft and soothing, enhancing the relaxation experience. LED lights are popular due to their efficiency and longevity. Some people also choose to install dimmers, so they can adjust the brightness to fit their mood.

Ensure you have a thermometer and a hygrometer installed inside the sauna. These devices will help you monitor the temperature and humidity levels in your sauna, adjusting them to your liking.

Maintaining Your Sauna

Once your sauna is complete, maintaining it becomes a priority. Regular maintenance not only helps in preserving the aesthetic appeal of your sauna but also ensures it remains a safe and healthy environment.

Start by cleaning your sauna regularly. Sweating in a closed environment can create a breeding ground for bacteria and mold. Use gentle, non-abrasive cleaners to clean wooden surfaces without causing damage. Avoid using too much water, as it can lead to issues with the wood.

Inspect your heater regularly to ensure it is functioning properly. Check the rocks for cracks or signs of wear and replace them as needed. Ensure the hot air and fresh air are circulating adequately by inspecting the ventilation system.

If your sauna is outdoors, weather conditions can affect its longevity. Regularly check the exterior of the sauna for signs of damage or decay. Applying a water-repellent sealant can protect the wood from moisture, and periodic staining can help preserve the wood’s natural color and prevent fading.


Building a home spa with a Scandinavian sauna design is not just a unique way to enhance your home, but also a means to create a personal retreat. From selecting the perfect location, designing your sauna room, to regular maintenance, every moment invested in this space promises a return in the form of peace and relaxation.

An authentic Finnish sauna experience is not merely about radiant heat, steam, or even the cold plunge. It’s a holistic experience that encompasses relaxation, health benefits, and connection with nature. Whether it’s a custom sauna built to your taste or a simple, functional design, having a sauna at home is a luxury that keeps giving.

So, take the leap and build your sauna home. Let the warmth envelop you, let the steam refresh you, and don’t forget to take that invigorating cold plunge. Your own personal spa awaits!

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