On the Homestead: Sauna, store and stage — it’s a multi-tasking structure

Article from this week’s National Post, a Canadian publication.  Link to article here.

Diane Doiron | 13/03/15 3:51 PM ET 


Diane Doiron
Saunas have been around for millennia and are known for the relaxing, purifying and healing effects they have on the body. We have been using our sauna for the past four winters and are looking forward to many years of being able to soothe our aching bodies after the hard physical work on the farm. 

We are lucky enough to have one, and it’s mostly thanks to someone else’s castoffs. It’s true that one person’s trash is another person’s treasure! A few years ago, Lea (who is a real estate agent) sold a property to clients who were planning some renovations on their new purchase. They wanted to remove some 1×6 cedar tongue-and-groove lumber to put up drywall. Lea jumped at the opportunity to assist them and carefully dismantled the precious walls, and took her time pulling out nails before loading the material on the truck. Heading back home with a smile on her face, she dreamed of one day building a sauna on the Hill.

Diane Doiron 

Diane Doiron

On another trip to town, she found a wood stove dumped at the side of the road with a sign reading “Free.” In order to be able to load it on the truck by herself, she lightened its weight by removing the door and taking the firebricks out one by one.  It’s always nice to have the materials ready for the next job on the list; the challenge then was to find the time to renovate the 130-year-old Milk House into the sauna.

Four years ago, we had two very young and energetic Wwoofers (volunteer farm workers), Sarah and Krissi, who were from Germany. Those girls learned how to measure, cut and nail up walls that summer. The result is a multi-function space now known as the Zen Zone.

The deck outside the sauna has been used as a stage for impromptu musical performances, but mostly just for lounging and having a beer on a hot summer’s day. In the winter, it’s the launching pad for steamy bodies running out of the sauna in search of a little cooling snow (or at least cool air) to run around in.

Diane Doiron 

Diane Doiron

The sauna building is a multi-functioning space; during the summer months, we use the front room of it as our “general store,” where we sell the preserves and soaps we make through the year, as well as some of our photography.

The sauna itself is 5×12-feet, with benches that seat four comfortably. The wood stove is loaded from outside the building so that smoke doesn’t interfere with the relaxing steam. We have rocks on top of the stove and a bucket of water — or sometimes the bucket is full of snow.

I’ve just been told the sauna is ready … got to go!



  1. Love the recycled DIY nature of this sauna build.
  2. Photo #1 reveals no foil bubble wrap of foil wrap vapor barrier.   Click here on virtues of foil bubble wrap.
  3. Recycling an old stove is resourceful and free yet we are big fans of a proper sauna stove, the Kuuma stove particularly.  For an avid sauna user: very much worth the investment.
  4. Love seeing cross country skiis and snow shoes outside this sauna.  Its users know how to get out side, enjoy winter, and the health and wellness virtues of their own sauna retreat.



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