How One Seattle Couple Created an Outdoor Sauna from an old Garden Shed

An outdoor sauna draws homeowners into their lush garden
Lauren Mang  |   March 2014   |  FROM THE PRINT EDITION
outdoor sauna seattle magazine
Tucked amid tall trees in the Barloons’ backyard is their inviting sauna and outdoor shower—an old garden shed with a new purpose

Pulling up to Sam and Katie Barloons’ woodsy Broadview abode, it’s hard to ignore the presence of “The Brain.” The looming concrete-and-steel cube—built in 2002 by Olson Kundig Architects as a neighboring workspace for the home’s former owner, a filmmaker—is an icon among architecture and design devotees. But veer to the right, down the verdant, sloping backyard and you’ll encounter a different, more unassuming cube—a garden shed turned sauna that also commands attention. 
Thanks to a collaboration between artist Jennifer Beedon Snow, who designed the sauna’s interior, and contractors John Dickson (206.300.9519) and Tom Johnston (206.251.7050), who helped with the design process and built the sauna, the luxe refuge doesn’t reject its garden-shed roots. The team salvaged the structure’s roof (complete with living licorice ferns and moss) and most of its exterior siding. What’s new is a fetching fir-and-glass door (from franklumberthedoorstore.com) that opens to reveal a completely altered interior, with warm cedar walls in the changing room and sauna, and grayish-black basalt stone floors throughout. As for the sauna’s impressive path and surrounds, those were the handiwork of landscape designer Kevin Long of Urban Wilds (urbanwildsseattle.com) and architect Josh Brevoort of Zeroplus (0-plus.com).
“Sam and Katie really like the outdoors,” Beedon Snow says. “They have a beautiful property with a Japanese garden, [so having] the sauna in the garden, away from the house, enables them to get out and experience the natural beauty.” (Photo: Reclaimed bush-hammered granite supports, with Japanese-style stacked black cobblestones in the center cutouts, form the shower floor)

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