Photos by Hillary Ehlen and special to Design & Living Magazine
By Tom & Camila Stadum
Norwegian sauna culture brought to fargo
Hello, we are Tom & Camila Stadum. We grew up in Fargo and have been married for 6 years. In 2015, we purchased our home and committed to being North-siders for life. We have two spunky French Bulldogs, Pancake and Buzz, and are expecting our first child in the Spring of 2019. We’ve enjoyed modernizing our 1947 home and have renovated nearly every room in the house. Then, this past summer, we started making improvements to the backyard.
Last spring, we traveled to Norway on vacation and got inspired by their sauna culture and the way they embrace winter. In Oslo, we stumbled upon Salt, a seaside sauna park that has one of the biggest A-frame saunas in the world, which holds up to 100 people. They also have multiple barrel saunas and even some saunas floating in the water with people jumping into the Oslo fjord to cool off.
Embracing Colder Weather
We were so impressed with the Norwegian mindset towards winter that it got us thinking of ways that we could better embrace winter back home, especially in the middle of January. We purchased a sauna kit from Almost Heaven Saunas, which is based in Michigan. Included in the kit were pre-cut cedar boards, an electric sauna heater, accessories, and a roof. All components came ready for installation so we were only responsible for the assembly and wiring.
We first had to build a solid foundation to hold the 900-pound sauna. The foundation included digging 18 inches into the ground and using a mixture of rock and sand with pavers on top. We then assembled the sauna and hired an electrician to dig a trench and bring out electrical power to the sauna. Once it was all ready, we stained the cedar to give it a finished look and protect the wood through the seasons. Lastly, we built a border around the sauna and re-planted grass in the areas that had been dug up.
From beginning to end, it took us nearly two months to finish from ordering the sauna, assembling, staining, wiring and landscaping. It was a labor of love, but it was so worth it!
Tom’s Morning Ritual
The sauna gets used every day. Tom has a morning ritual of waking up at 6 a.m. on weekdays and using the sauna for 25-35 minutes before work. He uses it as a dry sauna, but occasionally, he will pour eucalyptus water over the stones to turn it into a steam sauna. In the evenings, we have longer sessions with friends and family. Unfortunately, Camila can’t use the sauna due to her pregnancy, but she has never been more excited for next winter.
Aside from the health benefits and waking up earlier, it’s a way of forced relaxation. Due to the heat and humidity, you have to leave your phone and distractions inside the house. It’s a peaceful and quiet time that you don’t get anywhere else.
“The sauna is another way for us to embrace winter and have something to look forward to when the temperatures drop below zero.”
We’ve always been proud to live in Fargo and have always had the mentality of loving the place where we’ve been planted. It’s no surprise to anyone that winters in Fargo aren’t for the faint of heart, but even with that mindset, it can sometimes get challenging mid-January to stay positive about the weather and where we’ve chosen to call home.
The sauna is another way for us to embrace winter and have something to look forward to when the temperatures drop below zero. For us, it’s an investment in our emotional and physical health. Some of the health benefits to using a sauna frequently are increased circulation, elevated heart rate similar to moderate exercise, muscle relaxation and stress relief to name a few.
One of our favorite things about the sauna is that it’s given us an outlet to have intentional community. It’s a great place to have good conversation with friends and family and enjoy a season that most people don’t look forward to. We’re excited to create new family traditions in the sauna and share the sauna experience with others.