Furnishing

Installing a sauna: how to create your own wellness oasis

Torben Schröder

What better way to end the day than in your own sauna – just relax and do your body some good in the hot steam. Depending on where the sauna is located and how much space you have available in your home, you can create a complete wellness oasis. Here we give you some tips on how to set up your own home sauna – with a refreshing plunge pool, a cozy relaxation area, special lighting and the right sauna oven.

View into a sauna area with a sauna cabin, shower and anteroom.
© Getty Images/iStockphoto

In this article

Designing the sauna area

Once your sauna is built, it’s time to move on to the design stage. In general, a sauna area should be a place to relax. A sauna in the basement of your house offers more possibilities than a sauna in the garden. Personal taste obviously always comes into it – we explain how you can meet your own individual preferences with the following design tips.

Ways to cool off

In order to take full advantage of the vitalizing effect of a sauna, our body needs an equally effective way to cool down after each sauna session. Ideally, you should decide whether or not to install a plunge pool early on in your project. Retrofitting one requires a great deal of construction work. An alternative is to fit a bathtub that you can fully immerse yourself in when you’ve finished sweating in the sauna.

The simplest solution is of course to use the shower in your regular bathroom to refresh yourself with cold water. Afterwards, simply slip into a soft bathrobe and take a walk on the patio or in the garden – an extra portion of oxygen is good for the body right now.

The relaxation area

You are probably familiar with this from visits to the fitness center or leisure pool: a sauna area is not only equipped with numerous sauna cabins, but with just as many places to relax and dream. Depending on how much space you have available, you could create a similar relaxation area.

The general rule to follow when setting up a relaxation area is less is more. The environment should be free of unnecessary objects and follow a modern, simple and restrained design. You need comfortable furniture such as a couch or a lounger where your body can rapidly regenerate after experiencing the physical challenges associated with the change in temperature from hot to cold.

A tip: we recommend arranging large green plants in tubs and integrating a water feature in the form of a small fountain. These elements are for decorative purposes but will also help the body to recover.

Wall design

When decorating the walls, you should make sure that the colors and textures reflect the desired mood after your sauna session. White wallpaper or tiles look sterile, bright colors and eye-catching patterns are distracting. A mix of red, orange and brown tones can work well, for example, combined with applications and accessories made of wood. Attach shelves to the walls where you can place rolled up towels or scented bowls. Pictures with natural motifs or discreet wall tattoos add the final touch to the sophisticated overall impression.

View of a sauna cabin made of light-colored wood.

The walls and floor of a sauna area should fit in well visually as well as being functional.

Flooring

Whether you’re just coming out of the sauna cabin covered in sweat, or you’re dripping wet from the subsequent shower or immersion bath – either way, not every floor covering is suitable for the sauna area. It should meet the following conditions:

  • Water compatible
  • Easy to clean
  • Heat resistant
  • Non-slip
  • Visually attractive and in harmony with the rest of the interior
  • Pleasant to walk on

With so many different requirements, there is no single optimal floor covering for a sauna. Choose what suits you best. Stone and ceramics allow water to run off particularly well, PVC is easy to clean, wood is visually very attractive, and cork feels pleasant underfoot.

Light and music

When used properly, lighting can quickly put us in a completely different mood. Colorful lights have a euphoric effect, bright lamps evoke hospital operating rooms, while dim lighting makes us feel comfortable. And this is exactly the state of mind you should aim to create with the lighting in your sauna. Establish the right atmosphere with dimmed reading lamps for the loungers, candles, or LED spots installed sparingly in the baseboards.

Surrounded by typical soft sounds from the loudspeakers of a small stereo system, your body can become wonderfully relaxed.

The sauna oven

In addition to typical utensils such as an infusion bucket, a ladle, a thermometer and an hourglass, the most important piece of equipment in the sauna cabin is the oven itself. You have the choice between two operating methods, which we explain in more detail below.

Electric oven

Sauna traditionalists may not approve, but it has obvious advantages: an electrically operated sauna oven. At the touch of a button, sauna stones are heated, which in turn give off heat into the air in the cabin. The desired temperature is reached within minutes – making a spontaneous sauna possible at any time. The temperature in an electric oven with a 400-volt connection can rise to more than 100 degrees Celsius, or 80 degrees Celsius for a plug-and-play device with a conventional 230-volt connection.

Advantages

  • Quickly ready for operation
  • Precise temperature control
  • Easy handling
  • Few accessories necessary
  • No residues produced
  • Timer switch available

Disadvantages

  • Power connection necessary
  • Operating costs not visible until you receive your electricity bill
  • Limited temperature range for standard ovens
Close-up of an electric oven in a sauna cabin.

An oven that works without burning wood: an electric sauna oven functions by heating up stones.

Wood-burning oven

With this type of device, we feel transported to a starry night by a lake in Finland. We can see blazing flames through the oven hatch, hear the logs crackling and smell scents reminiscent of a campfire. Temperatures above 100 degrees – whether you want your sauna that hot or not – are not a problem. But the advantages are also disadvantages because of the regulations that have to be met for open fires. Here in Switzerland, the manufacturer must prove that their device has been approved by the Swiss Cantonal Fire Insurance Association (VKF) – this information can often be found on the relevant website. Without this authorization, you must register the wood-burning oven with the authorities as a thermal heating system.

Advantages

  • Authentic warmth
  • Traditional atmosphere
  • Crackling of logs
  • Very high temperatures possible
  • No power supply necessary

Disadvantages

  • Fire protection regulations to observe
  • Extra chimney needed
  • Much higher expenditure
  • The wood burned as the heating source leaves ashes
  • Temperature is difficult to control
  • Long warm-up phase

Conclusion: a wellness oasis within your own four walls

Work up a sweat in the sauna, then take an ice-cold shower before relaxing comfortably on a lounger – all in the comfort of your own home. With the right equipment, you can make your sauna seem like a fitness or leisure center.

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