These $28K Backyard Saunas Are as Stylish as They Are Soothing

With its first line of prefabricated saunas, U.K. design firm Out of the Valley wants to sweat the details so you can ditch the stress.

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The sauna market is heating up. A staple of Nordic living that began some 2,000 years ago in Finland, the practice of sweating it out is attracting the masses for its myriad benefits, real and perceived: Think detoxification, pain relief, improved cardiovascular and immune function, and a sense of relaxation. (In fact, during the pandemic, one sauna stove brand reported a surge in sales by 221 percent.)

The smallest Out of the Valley model is the Forest sauna, which features two benches on either side of a heater and fits two people lying down or four to six people seated. A large window can bring views of the surrounding landscape into the sauna. "The experience is all about connection—to nature, to other people, and to yourself," says McKelvie.

Courtesy of Out of the Valley

Now, on the back of this trend, U.K. design-build firm Out of the Valley, known better for its cabins, is offering sleek, customizable saunas. "Since Covid, people have become more aware of personal health," conjectures founder Rupert McKelvie of the company’s decision to expand. "People are also holidaying less, so rather than getting a dose of heat and well-being from travel they are looking to get it in their own backyard."

The first sauna was developed during the pandemic as interest in home saunas was surging. It was a simple adaptation of Out of the Valley’s popular Nomad Cabin, pictured here. Since then, saunas have become a key part of the company’s production schedule, it says, with three different pre-designed models as well as the option for bespoke models.

Courtesy of Out of the Valley

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While there are already plenty of backyard saunas to choose from, McKelvie felt there was an opportunity to elevate the experience with a design that echoed the ethos of Out of the Valley’s Nomad Cabin. "We live in a very cluttered, busy world, and well-considered spaces mean a user feels calmer as there is less to distract the eye," he explains. "There are continuous, fluid lines, no fussy details, and careful junctions between materials."

Out of the Valley’s sauna models include the Forest, Hive, and Mountain, each varying in size and layout. But the company prides itself on being able to adapt them to suit specific needs, or create entirely bespoke designs.

The Mountain sauna is designed to be closer in its design to the Nomad Cabin range. It features timber decks for cooling off between sessions.

Courtesy of Out of the Valley

The Mountain sauna features two tiers of benches arranged in an L-shape around the heater. The two levels offer more thermal range, with more heat on the upper level and a less intense heat on lower levels.

Courtesy of Out of the Valley

The Hive sauna is designed to disappear into a woodland, with a green roof, oversized timber shingle cladding, and large "punch-through" windows.

Courtesy of Out of the Valley

The generous windows of the Hive sauna are rounded to give the sauna a more organic appearance that complements its nature-inspired design.

Courtesy of Out of the Valley

The saunas have a heat range between 160 and 190 degrees Fahrenheit, and can heat up within 30 to 45 minutes, depending on the model. Sheep’s wool insulation and high-quality timbers like alder, cedar, thermo pine, and aspen help keep them at temp. "We heavily insulate our saunas so the heater doesn’t need to be on all the time once it heats up," adds McKelvie.

Most Out of the Valley saunas utilize an electric heater, with options ranging from budget to more premium HUUM models. There is also the option for wood fired heaters if the sauna is in a remote location and needs to be off-grid. "Wood-fired options are a bit more work but having flames inside the sauna is very atmospheric," says McKelvie.

Courtesy of Out of the Valley

An optional outdoor shower adds to the sauna experience, allowing users to rinse off before and after. Out of the Valley can also include cold plunge pools with its models on request.

Courtesy of Out of the Valley

Each of the models has large windows that allow users to connect with the landscape, but they can be reduced in size for urban areas where privacy is a priority. The saunas are meant to be craned into place, or delivered in panels and assembled on site where access is limited. According to McKelvie, due to the sizes of the saunas, permitting and planning often isn’t required for installation.

The Quarry sauna is a bespoke design built on the edge of a lake in a decommissioned quarry. The clients live in an oak timber-frame home and wanted a sauna to match the architectural style of their main house.

Courtesy of Out of the Valley

Interested buyers can expect to spend $28,000 for a smaller off-the-shelf model and as much as $62,000 for something more elaborate or custom. Out of the Valley says most of its clients are located in the U.K., but that it has recently launched in the U.S. with a manufacturing partner in California, and has even installed projects in the Catskills in New York.

"It’s so rewarding getting the saunas on site," says McKelvie. "To see how it fits into the landscape and to feel the heat on a cold winter’s day is lovely. It’s the moment that the sauna becomes alive."

Out of the Valley designs and manufactures freestanding, outdoor saunas that are separate from the main house. "You can have these spaces in the garden in either rural or urban spaces, or in a woodland so you can walk out to it as part of the experience," says McKelvie. "Cold water swimming is becoming much more popular and many of our clients want waterside saunas to take that experience to the next level."

Courtesy of Out of the Valley

More from Out of the Valley:

This Cozy Cabin in the British Countryside Has Everything You Need for a Relaxing Weekend

These Tiny Cabins Offer a Wilderness Escape—Even in the Heart of London



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