I’m one of the few New Yorkers who doesn’t complain about summer in the city: I love the heat; it’s the cold I detest. So there’s nothing I like better on a miserable winter’s day than to spend an hour or so shvitzing in a toasty sauna, letting the intense dry heat drive the chill from my bones, relax my tense muscles, ease my aches and pains, and help my body detoxify.
Sitting in my health club sauna, I often fantasize about having a private one at home—something that’s never going to happen given my typically space-challenged Manhattan apartment. But if you have the necessary square footage—from 4’ x 6’ to 5’ x 7’ for two to three people—a sauna is a wonderfully practical addition to any home. And a beautiful one, as well: A sauna’s walls, floor, ceiling, and benches are made entirely of wood, creating an opportunity to showcase the material through clean design and quality craftsmanship.
My fantasy home sauna would definitely be made of aspen, an American hardwood whose blond good looks, workability, and low-toxicity makes it an increasingly popular choice for the job. Because this non-allergenic wood doesn’t outgas harmful chemicals or unpleasant odors, it is particularly appropriate if you have respiratory issues or sensitivities. For this reason, it’s the material of choice for hospital saunas in Finland, a country famed for its sauna culture. If that makes aspen sound cold and clinical, take a look at the accompanying images from Superior Sauna & Steam, a Wisconsin manufacturer of sauna kits and equipment. As you can see, the light-colored, fine-grained wood creates a warm and inviting environment where you’d be happy to stretch out and bask in the restorative heat. And if there’s a window in the design, you’ll be able to look out from your cozy haven at the cold world outside.
Superior Sauna & Steam
68670 State Farm Road
Ashland, WI 54806