Designing a Home Sauna

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Each year we see more and more clients seeking designs that prioritize health and wellness, integrating features that contribute to a holistic, healthy living experience. Saunas have been a cornerstone of healthy living in Scandinavian countries for decades and is actively becoming a staple in American culture.

The allure of a home sauna is undeniable. A space where one can retreat, unwind, and rejuvenate. Here’s how to achieve a harmonious blend of form and function when integrating a sauna into your custom home design.

Steam vs. Infrared Heat

The first factor to consider is the type of sauna you’d like to install. Both infrared heat and steam heat provide relaxation and detoxification. But the type you choose will greatly impact the feel and aesthetic of the sauna.


If you appreciate the classic sauna experience with intense heat and the ritual of pouring water over hot rocks, a steam sauna may be your ideal choice. Its robust construction and use of natural materials provides a grounding experience. Temperatures typically range between 150°F to 195°F (65°C to 90°C). The moist heat is known for its respiratory benefits, helping to clear nasal passages and ease congestion.


The infrared sauna uses infrared panels to emit infrared light, which directly heats the body rather than the air around it. If you prefer a more controlled and comfortable heat that allows for longer sessions with specific health benefits like improved skin health and chronic pain relief, an infrared sauna might be the perfect fit. Temperatures in an infrared sauna are generally lower, ranging from 120°F to 150°F (50°C to 65°C).

Materials & Aesthetic

Wood remains unrivaled. Cedar and spruce are popular options, both for durability and its natural aroma. But the introduction of infrared saunas has brought some more modern elements into the conversation. The blend of glass panels and metallic fixtures with a traditional wood sauna creates a moody yet intimate atmosphere.

Choosing the Space

Select a location that promises tranquility

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A sauna needs to fall properly in the melody of the overall home design. You want solitude, privacy, and seclusion. For indoor spaces, a basement typically provides the kind of tranquility you’re looking for. An outdoor sauna can also be a striking focal point in a garden or patio area.

A compact infrared sauna can fit in a space as small as 3’x3’ for one person, while a traditional steam sauna typically requires at least 4’x4’ for one to two people. Aim for 6’x6’ or more to accommodate more guests.

Ventilation & Atmosphere

Proper ventilation is crucial to maintaining the ideal sauna environment. Fresh air flow ensures that the heat remains consistent and comfortable. A thoughtfully designed ventilation system not only supports the sauna’s functionality but also contributes to the overall aesthetic. Hidden vents and strategically placed air inlets can keep the design clean and uncluttered.

Lighting in a sauna sets the mood. Soft, indirect lighting is ideal, creating a soothing atmosphere that encourages meditation. Consider integrating LED strips beneath benches or behind backrests to create a gentle, ambient glow.

Weaving in Your Inspiration

We believe that every space in your home should be inspired by you. Saunas and wellness spaces are no exception. Custom tile inlays, aromatherapy, art, and sound systems all make the experience far more personal.

Custom Home Design in Southeastern Pennsylvania

Designing a home sauna is an art form, a delicate balance between function and aesthetics.


At DesignHOME Studios we distill the complexities of creating incredible homes, on-budget and on-schedule for each of our valued clients. We love coming to understand the lifestyles & preferences of our clients, and translating that into a magazine-level home.

Schedule a private consultation today to bring your vision to life.

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