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Sauna Talk: husband and wife landscape team discuss outbuildings along the path towards building their own backyard sauna retreat

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“I think if you’re thinking about building a sauna, you should go ahead and just do it.” – Steele Arundel

BONUS INTRO: Rod Buhrsmith introduces us to the budding mobile sauna movement:

A symbiotic mash up of an ice house and an out building. Mobile saunas allow us to bring the goodness of sauna to breweries, backyards, and nature areas like lakes and streams. Here, the cold plunge is steps from our hot room door.

Rod Buhrsmith, considering the locale of his next mobile sauna deployment inside the hot room of the Stokeyard sauna (photo: Jon Reynolds).

Nan & Steele Arundel, founders and owners of Landscape Love, a Minneapolis design and landscape company, join us on the sauna bench where we discuss backyard sauna retreats from a landscaping perspective.

With our backyard saunas we are able to expand the seasonal use of our properties.

This is especially beneficial in climates like Canada and Minnesota, where most backyards are shut down for the winter. We are able to carve a sauna building into a small space within an urban backyard, maximizing our valuable, usable space. Also, we learn some interesting facts about tree species and offer some insight for ideas to landscape around our sauna buildings.

Steele and Nan Arundel, partners of Landscape Love and life, on the bench with Glenn (photo: Jon Reynolds)

This episode of sauna talk is layered with “ands,” in this case a rogue photo shoot of the Stokeyard Mobile Sauna. We set up the mobile sauna in the parking lot of Minneapolis’ beautifully wooded Rose Garden, making for a great backdrop for our jovial Friday Happy Hour Sauna.

Jon Reynolds, Venn Design & Media was able to capture some super professional “wow” images, (full photo gallery: click here). At the same time, we discuss details of Nan & Steele’s current sauna build project. Topics range from insulation, to radiant heat in the changing room floor, to venting the hot room, and an optimal sound system set up.

We discuss the importance of allowing for time and space within the process of building a sauna.

There is a big difference between making decisions and following directions. The decision making process allows for a more personal, customized sauna of greater value for the sauna builder (and bather!).

We discuss bringing mobile sauna to wonderful places. We get insight into Nan’s creative enterprising idea of bringing mobile saunas around to new Mothers, anchored at home with newborns, to help them relax and chill out while their babies snooze away inside. Maybe this is how Nan gets her name (without the -nny at the end)?.

Cooling down with Nan and Steele as the sun sets on a Friday Happy Hour sauna
(photo: Jon Reynolds).

Some folks get exposed to sauna through “Hollywood workouts” at the health club, but we all agree that there is no better way to get clean than with a few sauna rounds. So practical.

Nan reflecting on ski, then sauna within the mobile sauna public domain
(Photo: Jon Reynolds)

Editor’s Note: We f***’ed up. I’m trying a new recording device and we lost the file. I’m pissed because this was a great interview, but rest assured, we’ll Sauna Talk with Rod, Nan & Steele again soon.  

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4 thoughts on “Sauna Talk: husband and wife landscape team discuss outbuildings along the path towards building their own backyard sauna retreat”

  1. Hello Glenn,

    It’s Jena from Balsam Lake! Hope winter and sauna season is treating you well. Just wanted to reach out as my email has changed and did not see a direct contact so figured I would try this! Now I need a sauna more than ever looking at your website!

    Looking forward to hearing from you! Enjoy the rest of your week!!

  2. Glenn,
    Lovely site. I’ve been following for months but this is my first comment.

    I’m finally reaching a place where I can start working building a sauna into my budget. I do plan on getting your ebook on sauna building but am waiting until I have solidified my timeline for the project. In the meantime I had a couple of questions:

    First question has to do with what my target budget should be. Obviously, this varies a lot with the specifics of size and style. I’m thinking about a cabin style roughly 8×16′ or 9×18′ (half space would be sauna, half for changing/cool down (maybe a small shower fed by a garden hose).
    I’m thinking of the medium wood kuuma and am figuring $2k for that after accessories, shipping and the tax man is done. Assuming I’m doing all of the work (or paying friends to assist (with beer and future saunas)) I’m figuring $3k for the building itself. Am I in the ballpark or way off?

    Lastly: one design element that I’m weigh-in the pros and cons of is the kuuma throat extension to have the firebox access outside. Do you cover that option at all in your book? I’d love to hear from an experienced user if it’s an option worth considering.

    I have reasonable sauna experience; but have not used or seen a wood burning one before. I grew up with a gas burning sauna unit but now live far away. I’m sick of my only sauna being at the local gym where water is forbidden (okay sometimes I cheat when nobody is looking) and fellow gym users who tend to have no ettiquite. The saving grace is that, for a public sauna, it gets reasonably warm. Temps usually hover around 175-180.. but without any steam it doesn’t do too much for me.

    Just this past week, there was a person in there with a set of high dollar looking Bluetooth headphones and his cell. I’m not one to poo poo on music, but playing it loud enough to no longer be personal is not cool. 20 minutes in (which is impressively long for the average inexperienced sauna user) his headphones thankfully could no longer handle the heat and gave up on life. Hope he learned his lesson.


  3. Greg: $2k medium Kuuma, yes plus shipping. $3k building itself: yes. $700 ish for T&G Cedar Paneling. $300 at least for decent benches (find clear!), $400 for stove accessories. You’ve got other misc. things like glass for windows, fixtures, electrical, etc. You’re getting there! We build it once, as you know, so I say get ‘er going.

  4. With today’s pricing T&G cedar is closer to $2,000 for inside and $2300 for outside siding. $2,000 for a stove and $6,000 for other lumber and add on’s. Price of poker has gone up

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