A Stern Warning About Using Steam Therapy In Your Bathroom

A post about steam therapy, Laurel?


Yes, I can’t think of anything more divine than hanging in a hot steam bath in early February!

Steam Therapy has been around since at least the Ancient Greeks and Romans. (and many other civilizations as well) Although we’re starting to come around, they fully understood the therapeutic value of thermal baths and steam, along with massage, exercise, rest, a healthy diet and music to rejuvenate body, mind and soul.


Okay, that’s cool. So, what’s the steam therapy warning about, Laurel?


Well… The warning is that you might become addicted to steam therapy.

But there’s a cure for that too. :]


But first, we need to go back in time to understand what the Greeks and Romans understood that we (well, not WE) in our supposedly advanced civilization are far slower to grasp.

Plus, I don’t know about you, but I’m always curious to know more about how our ancestors lived so long ago.

The Greeks and later the Romans, turned bathing into an art-form. But it wasn’t only a hedonistic pleasure. The early bath houses, were elaborate complexes, designed to rejuvenate and maintain good health and well-being.


A critical component of the Greek and Roman baths was steam therapy created with water as hot as the body could stand it. (about 114° F)


These hot, steamy baths were known as Thermae. In addition to the thermae, were baths and rooms of pleasant warmth and an ice bath– I guess to stop the “cooking.”

But all joking aside, the hot, steamy baths create an artificial rise in body temperature. This rise in temperature increases circulation, can cure or alleviate certain diseases and kills dangerous bacteria in the body.

Those Greeks and Romans were so smart. Maybe they got a little too carried away, in the end, but for quite some time, I think that they were pretty amazing!


Steam Therapy

A floor plan of the old baths (Thermae) in ancient Pompeii

B) apodyterium or changing room
C) frigidarium or cold bath room
A) tepidarium or tepid bath room
E) calidarium or hot bath room.

You can read more about it in the link above.

Of course, very little has survived of the ancient thermae, but there is a fair amount of 18th and 19th century art depicting scenes of the therapeutic bathing culture.

Steam Therapy





A Favourite Custom 1909 Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema 1836-1912 Via Tate Gallery - Steam Therapy



steam therapy at the bathhouseJust hangin’ at the Thermae at Caracalla

As already stated, in addition to the thermae, the Greeks and Romans understood that part of the wellness plan included massage, a healthy diet, exercise rest and music.


After receing steam therapy a good restMowbray: Harem Scene 1884–1900

Obviously, these paintings were painted long after the ancient baths of the Greeks and Romans. But I love the feeling of rejuvenation they invoke as well as the colors. I am not sure if they are depictions of what the artist imagined or if they are contemporary to the time of their creation.

And since I’m not writing a doctoral thesis here, lol, I’m content to leave it at that. But, I imagine that someone out there knows the answer to that.


Beautiful colors. Notice how the bits of black give depth to the largely pastel colors. It’s just like a room. :]

Interestingly, the thermae were far more than spas. Attached to the public baths were sports arenas, areas for shopping, eating and socializing. The bathhouse was an integral part of day-to-day living.

In fact, there is an allegory that when a foreign visitor asked a Roman Emperor why he took a bath once a day, he answered, “Because I don’t have time to take a bath twice a day.”


Where were these bath houses located?


Pretty much all over Europe because the Romans occupied everything. But one thing that made it easier to create one was a natural thermal hot spring and they are pretty abundant. However, the Greeks and Romans were quite resourceful in using wood burning stoves and rocks to heat the water.

And the Romans made the price of admission pretty much affordable for all. Alas, after a time, the maintenance, shall we say was purported to be not up to snuff.


Bath Steam Therapy

One of the most famous of these ancient baths still stands and that is the Roman bath in BATH, UK. Although it still stands as a tourist attraction and the water is changed frequently, it is no longer safe to swim in. The bottom structure is original, but everything above the columns is not.

And of course, there were Turkish baths too.


Are there still communal thermal baths?


Men receiving steam therapy in a Hungarian thermal bath

Baths in Budapest


You bet your sweet bippy, there are!


Find Us Lost

One country that is quite famous for their baths is Hungary. Did you know that? Well, I did not, and my paternal grandfather was Hungarian! He taught me a couple of Hungarian nursery rhymes,

Boci, boci tarka,
Se füle, se farka,
Oda megyünk lakni,
Ahol tejet kapni.


Szechenyi Bath-Winter

However, he failed to mention anything about the rejuvenating hot springs. (that I can recall) This is a great guide to Hungarian thermal baths.

Interestingly, it must’ve been in our blood, because a favorite family vacation growing up, was to visit French Lick, IN where there sits a grand hotel that sprung up because of the healing hot springs located there.

Mind you, we never went into the hot springs because they stunk to high heaven, (of sulfur) but it was always so much fun going there!

The grand old hotel from a postcard in the 1950s


The French Lick Hotel today


Let’s look a little more closely at Steam Therapy.


Of course, we can get it by visiting a thermal pool or many health clubs and spas. But, what if we want to have steam on a daily basis and we want it one hour before bedtime? (a great time to have a hot steam bath)

Well, the logical answer is that we would need to have it at home.

And this brings me to one of the fabulous sponsors of the Modenus Designhounds KBIS Blogtour that took place last month in Orlando, FL:

Mr. Steam.

They were our last stop on the tour and in true Roman fashion, we were royally fed in a lovely restaurant and given a charming presentation of the numerous benefits of having one of their residential steam systems in our homes.


As numerous cultures have known for thousands of years, steam has amazing healing properties.


In fact, water in any form is beneficial, but steam, in particular, does all of this:


  • moisturizes and rejuvenates the skin
  • aids in circulation and removal of toxins
  • soothes sore, tight muscles
  • helps those with a host of ailments including sinus, bronchial, (remember the doctor telling you to throw your sick kids into a steamy shower?), arthritis
  • Promotes better and more restful sleep. Okay, I don’t know about you, but I’m already sold. But there’s more!
  • Promotes a sense of relaxation and well-being
  • relieves stress

And to further augment the powerful benefits of steam, Mr. Steam systems can come with aromatherapy kits as well as something called chromotherapy which I needed to look up. Chromotherapy uses different colors of lights and it’s quite an interesting science.

The final cool thing is that the systems come equipped with soothing music for a total rejuvenating, healing home spa experience.

Now, if they can find a way for us to get a great massage, I’d probably never leave my home!

In case you are wondering, the basic units are not terribly expensive. These spa showers are good for resale value as well.

And yes, you can install a Mr. Steam system in a bathroom already in existence.

Having lunch with the Mr. Steam folks was a fabulous way to end our blog tour.


But I realized that the Greeks and Romans did leave out one crucial component for good health.


At the end of our delicious lunch with the Mr. Steam folks, I had a hankering for a little something sweet.

And there it was… on the menu– a crucial component of a healthy diet! Thank God!



Banana Cream Pie A component of steam therapy rejuvenation

yummy banana cream pie at Emeril’s in Orlando

Sorry, I took a bite and then realized that I better take a pic of this amazing thing. My only regret was that I didn’t take what I couldn’t eat (which was most of it) in one sitting, home with me. That was the best BCP I’ve ever had, but very rich!

If you’re looking to see some of Mr Steam’s items, I put together a widget for you. (below) You can purchase their entire line on build.com Of course, you will need a professional installation. You can get more information on the Mr. Steam Website.

And OH! If you’d like to try one out, they have a way cool app on their site that tells you where you can go locally to do that.

places to try out Mr. Steam for steam therapy new york metro area

I took a screenshot of all of the places I can try out a Mr. Steam system in my area. Most are less than a 30 minute drive from me.

And below is a grouping of a very small sampling of their product offerings. Their steam systems are available for both residential and commercial use. For more info, please click on the individual images.



Does anyone have a steam shower? Or if you have any questions, I will try to answer them.


stern warning about steam therapy - you can't say that you havn't been warned!

please pin me to your Pinterest boards


Happy February all!

It’s my birthday on Wednesday (and that is not a request for anything at all!) and on Thursday, I’m actually going on a little warm-weather vacay with some design friends. The last time I went somewhere warm in the winter that wasn’t business was in 2002. Not kidding.

I’ll still be around, this week, but not quite as much.




PS: Please check out the Hot Sales Pages. Everything is up-to-date and there are lots of new things to see.


65 Responses

  1. We bought a house (in Memphis, TN) 18 months ago and it came with a Mr. Steam. My husband LOVES it, and our 3 teenage kids like it too. I am too impatient to wait for it to heat up. I’d love to renovate the master bathroom, and if we do, I expect that my husband will want to keep Mr. Steam. I think ours is about 25 years old, if they’ve been making them that long, because the previous owners did a huge remodel of this house in the early 1990s. Top of our list is kitchen reno…..

  2. Truly, the one amenity that I will not live without. I have another brand, not Mr. Steam, but have one installed in both a gulf coast house and a midwestern house. They’re used every morning! I’m 62, have used them for over 20 years. Such a treat for deep conditioning hair and full body moisturizing treatments. I make my own bath scrub with essential oils, organic sugar, glycerine, and coconut butter and rub down at the end of steaming, pre-shower. Delightful. A couple of caveats: filter the water that runs into the steam unit and be mindful of smoke alarms mounted in the vicinity.

  3. Don’t forget the Japanese onsen, the hot springs baths. They are the most relaxing thing ever. The water is so hot that you think there is no way you can tolerate it. After a while you go into the cool plunge, which is actually room temperature. After going back and forth between the two, your body is as limp as a noodle. Wrap yourself into a cotton yukata and go to bed. You’ll sleep like a baby.

  4. Happy birthday, dear Laurel I will tell you that you are the most beautiful effervescent 65 year old!
    “Boci, boci tarka”..what a lovely reminder of my children’s youth. My father-in-law would dangle the children on his legs while singig ‘boci, boci tarka’ while they would squeal with delight
    My Mother-in-law swore by the health giving warm springs bath in Hungary, and she would go back every year to visit family and also, take the bath cure.
    I’ve had my own steam shower for the last 6 days, but unfortunately, it was due to flu. Reminder to self.Get a flu shot next year
    Have a lovely little vacation!

    1. Hi Dolores,

      Actually, I’m 62. Yes, one can collect SS at 62 but unless one isn’t planning on living much longer, it’s a very bad idea I understand.

      I’m so sorry that you’re sick! I had the flu– very ill 18 years ago and ever since, get a flu shot every year. I usually feel horrible the next day, so don’t do it before I have to do something big.

      Please feel better soon!!! xoxo

  5. Probably the value of the steam shower in a home would largely depend on where you live. Most likely areas with a longer cold weather season would find it beneficial. I can tell you that there are only 2 months in Texas where anyone would want a steam shower. A lot of people have spas constructed as part of their pool landscape, so that’s about as steamy as we get! And swimming pools here don’t add to the value of the home either so they say- in Texas they’re a basic like a dishwasher!

  6. Hi Laurel – I was just reading a post you wrote in November of 2016 about what we can learn from photos of designers’ work and how to really study photos of their rooms. The post featured rooms by Suzanne Kasler and Mark D. Sikes. Any chance you will do a few more like that? I thought that one was really great. I really enjoyed getting your perspective and analysis of the rooms. Seems like it would make a great series. Thanks!

    1. Hi Christine,

      That’s a great idea. I think that there are a lot of posts like that sprinkled throughout, but it might be difficult to find them. I’ll see what I can do.

  7. I put in a Mr Steam steam shower in 1997, people thought I was crazy, but I loved it. The only thing is I used to use it in the morning before I went to work. It allowed me to be relaxed and happy before a stressful day. ( Ps, I worked at the HQ of a Fortune 100 company in the White Plaines area ). We are debating putting one in our reno in SW Florida, but it seems kind of redundant!

  8. Laurel- Upon reading that title I was fully expecting an article about the dangers of steam on framed prints and wallpaper in the bathroom! 🙂 After twice a day steam sessions this month in my attempt to fight the flu (I could hear my mother’s voice instructing me)I cringed every time I saw the mirror fog wondering what damage I was doing. Somehow the small vase of flowers in there benefitted as much as I did. The BEST hot springs in the country are in Pagosa Springs, Colorado (means healing waters”.)They are purported to be the deepest in the world and there are several temperatures in the various pools from which to choose. Complete with mountain views, it’s just one of the reasons we chose that location for our vacation home. Can’t wait to see pics of your sunny birthday getaway!

    1. Hi Dana,

      That is true. Steam can wreak havoc with some things but that doesn’t mean we can’t have beauty. That sounds like another post! Those springs sound to awesome for words!

  9. Happy birthday Laurel!! I have so enjoyed reading all your advice and have used many of your suggestions. I knew you were from IN, but forgot until I recognized the photo of the hotel in French Lick. That was my home for eight years. My father was the GM from 1979-1987. Though I haven’t been back since then, I understand it has gone under a multi million dollar renavation. That photo brought a smile to my face!! Happy birthday!!

      1. Laurel,
        You are exactly right! Our mother kept it very real too!! No housekeeping for us! Every Saturday morning it was cleaning day!! Oh, but I do miss that dome pool that was in the backyard!! 😉

  10. Hi, Laurel, I’ve been following your blog now for several months and have never responded. But please know that I’ve spent many enjoyable evenings perusing your archives. Love your taste.
    And…Happy February 7 birthday to you…and me! How cool is that? And just fyi: I have a first cousin who has a February 7 birthday. She and I just went out to do an early celebration on Friday. But wait…that’s not all. I have two younger brothers who have February 7 birthdays. Is that not insane? Lol. My grand parents had 8 grandchildren and 4 of them had the same birthday.
    Just thought you might find that tidbit interesting.
    Thanks again for your great blog.

    1. Hi Charlene,

      Oh, I love stuff like that!!! It’s the Universe talking to us. What’s also interesting, is that I’ve talked to other 2-7s and they usually haven’t encountered others with their birthday, well, not me… Over the years, it’s been dozens. Same with my name. Dozens. And it’s not like I know that many people either.

      Actually, my mom was due to have me at the end of the month. But she woke up early on the 7th and decided she couldn’t go one day longer and because of my innate “good girl script,” lol, I dutifully came out at 1:27PM.

      I tried that with both of my children and true to form, they stubbornly refused to listen to my fervent pleas to come out as “scheduled” and left me hanging for 11 and 12 days, respectively. haha

      However, Mom was plagued by the hot-flash demon for over two decades, while I was blessedly spared from that one. I think that I got the better deal!

  11. Another fun post and OMG that pie! Happy Birthday! So glad you’re getting away to the sunshine. We’ve been drowning here on the wet coast. 8.8 inches of rain in January and it’s still coming down! I’m headed to the desert (Baja, MX) in March to dry out. I married well (the second time). My hubby is a plumber/gas-fitter (he cooks too), so I got a steam shower in our ensuite for next to no $. We are waiting for tile but it’s going to be great when it’s done! Now I think I’ll go soak in the tub…..ahhhhhh. Have a great vacation!

  12. Your lovely post on Baths took me back to my days of living in Switzerland and Germany. Loved going to the beautiful baths in Baden-Baden and Erding in Germany as well as Scinznach and Zurzach in Switzerland. So wish we had a healthy bath culture here in the US. I did have a steam shower installed in a previous home and feel it contributed to it’s quick sale. It does require wiping down the walls as much as possible to keep mold growth at bay (mold=not healthy!) We also had a wall hung toilet installed for ease of floor cleaning. Would like your thoughts on that as they are very common in Switzerland and Germany and make cleaning the floors a breeze. Happy Birthday! I’m also an Aquarian February 11th! Guess that’s why I like water😉.

    1. Hi Valerie,

      Happy Birthday to you too! Yay Aquarius!!! Air sign, but we bear water which confuses everyone who isn’t an Aquarius or into astrology.

      You know when I was in Italy, I’ll never forget the first hotel. Could not figure out how the toilet worked! lol Well, I did eventually, but it was pretty funny.

      I think that mold can be a problem even without the extra steam. And I think that a wall-hung toilet while not very popular here, makes total sense. It is so gross cleaning around the toilet. If one has boys, it needs to be done quite frequently.

      I do love the Kohler Memoirs wall mount.


      I did see some wall mounts at KBIS but they were all too contemporary for me.

  13. Very interesting, but what we all really need to know is the name of the restaurant with that banana cream pie!

  14. Have a very happy birthday and a wonderful vacation!
    Don’t worry about little ‘ole me freezing up here in the midwest lol.
    As my contractor husband says, water is the enemy for a house so careful planning and professional installation is critical. Otherwise there could be a downfall of your own personal empire!

    1. Oh Merri,

      Well, it’s only for a few days and then I’ll be back. It better not warm up while I’m away! lol But with this crazy winter, who knows? And great advice! I think almost everything should be done by pros unless one really knows what they’re doing.

  15. This was such an interesting article to me! I’m definitely going to save up for one of these. Thank you Laurel. Have a wonderful Birthday, you are the best.

  16. Happy Birthday Laurel! My daughter’s birthday is Wednesday too, and she is a witty, talented, beautiful person too:)

    We have unintentionally lived in our house 23 years, no idea how that happened. We remodeled our large, awkward master bath about 10-12 years ago. I wanted to replace our old Jacuzzi with an air bath and my husband wanted a steam shower. We both got our wishes, but I have to admit, his wish proved to be the best. We rarely use the bath tub, but the steam shower is used almost every day.

    All the benefits you listed are spot on. In addition, our master bath is over the garage, which makes it the coldest room in the house this time of year. Since we weren’t smart enough to add heated floors, we just turn the steam shower for a few minutes to heat up the whole room. Another benefit is if you have curly hair, it will revive droopy curls. If you use hot rollers or curling irons (bad for hair) just put foam or Velcro rollers before use shower, and you have damage-free hair.

    If I had it to do over again? I’d nix the tub or put in a cool free-standing one. I’d put heat in the floor. I’d forget the extra sprays we put in the shower. I get the teak shower seat above in lieu of the tiled seat we put in which takes a foot of space out of the shower floor and is too hard and cold (yep, even with the steam on) to sit on comfortably. I wouldn’t add the niches, putting in a chrome floor-to-ceiling corner rack for my endless-supply of products instead.

    My only negative is, because the shower has to be air-tight, it retains water and therefore is harder to keep clean. I am in an endless battle with keeping the grout clean in the shower. Small price to pay.

    1. Thanks so much Jayne for that fabulous testimonial! Wow! It’s like a primer in steam showers and I love the roller idea.

      I guess if one can swing it, a marble slab interior is the way to go? Radiant heat in the floor is divine.

  17. Laurel, What is BCP? It looks delish!!
    Happy Birthday have a wonderful time on your trip!! I think February is the BEST time for a trip…because it is the worst time in the winter!!

    1. Hi Maggie,

      BCP = Banana Cream Pie :]

      Thanks so much. One year, quite a while back I think it was when I was engaged to my wasband,(yikes 30 years ago!) it was soooooooo cold on my birthday, I said, “forget it, let’s celebrate on August 7th!” lol

  18. Happy Birthday laurel,

    Last week I took your advice, and bought two lee love seats and chairs to match.I can’t wait to get them. It has taken me nine months to decide. You have been an inspiration to me and my interests in decorating. Thank you so much, I look forward to Sunday to read your Blog.

    Yours truly,

    Judy Mearing

    1. Thanks so much Judy! And I know how difficult it is to make decisions about furnishings. But I love my Lee sofa. My only beef is that they don’t sell to designers directly, but I think that they have the best line out there, in the lower end of the high-end price range. The higher end of the high-end price range would be $15,000 and up! for a sofa.

      1. Hi Laurel, On the subject of Lee sofas and chairs, is it OK to pair an English arm sofa with chairs that have smallish track arms? I’ve looked back at every post on sofas and human scale furniture but couldn’t find any info on mixing arm styles. Thanks and enjoy your birthday week!

        1. Hi Kelly,

          That’s a tough one. I can’t think of a time when I did pair a track arm, even a small one, which I do love with an English arm. Generally, I do a chair with a small roll arm. I’m not saying that it won’t work, just that I haven’t done it.

  19. I had a Mr Steam installed in a previous house and will be remodeling a bathroom shortly and will put in another one. Big note- be sure to include in your description if your installation is on an exterior wall- especially if you are in a cold climate. And do take it a step further and get an Ultra Bath http://www.bainultra.com I have used other brands and they aren’t the same.

  20. Hi Laurel,

    Happy birthday to the best designer blogger in the world, I truly mean that! Your always on point and so very helpful when it comes to this thing called design. I am building my first home and I got a steam shower. This was the cost for the unit installed $3480.00. My builder got us a great unit with all the fixings including lights at a great trade price, but we did have to add some plumbing and a place to actually accommodate and hide the box from view. Just thought I post the price because it’s always nice to know what home owners are paying for things these days.

    Thank you,

    1. Hi Tinamarie,

      Thanks so much for the kind words. Yeah, one needs to hide the box, for sure! In the widget, it links to build.com source which gives an idea of retail prices. But that sounds like a great deal from your builder.

  21. We have a steam shower and I love it. It was installed by the previous owners of our home and I honestly didn’t give it much thought when we bought the house, other than to worry that one of my kids would scald themselves on it (and that did happen, the very day we bought the house in fact, but thankfully not bad and the kid in question was fine). But now that it’s winter and FREEZING cold out, I love it. I use it every day. It soothes my sinuses like nothing else. My husband thinks I’m nuts because I turn it on when I shower, but let me tell you showering with extra steam is heaven.

    One thing I do caution though – the valve that the steam comes out of is even hotter than you think it will be. So if you have little kids, you need to be careful, or put a cover on it. Ours is in the worst position, under the showerhead, so I’m always a bit afraid I might put my foot forward by accident when I’m washing my hair and burn myself. Also, it smells kind of strange, a bit like a steam iron. I like the smell, personally, but my daughter doesn’t.

    1. Oh husbands. lol I don’t think that’s nuts at all. If I can put my heated car seat on in the middle of summer, then you can put your steam on whenever you like. I wish I could get one. I have a poor man’s steam shower. Let the cold air in from the window and turn the shower on as hot as it’ll go.

  22. Great timing! We don’t have a steam shower but we have a 10 person steam sauna in our home and were just discussing removing it to remodel our 3/4 bath into a larger laundry room and bath for our teenagers. I keep debating if its the right thing? Do saunas add to the value of a home? Opinions needed 🙂

    1. That’s a very good question. But I thought that a sauna was always dry. Maybe not? I think that it adds to the value unless there’s a shortage of bathroom space. Like only one bathroom and one powder room. Is a 3/4 a bathroom with a shower but no tub?

    2. What adds value to a home is always an interesting discussion. Thanks for inviting input. I think it depends so much on culture and current trends. There was a time when the sauna spelled luxury but in my region (west coast of Canada) they’re now considered passe; although people use them at rec centres. There is also the question of how you define value, monetary or non-monetary. From my perspective, if you use your sauna it’s valuable, if you don’t, it’s not. Steam showers are very trendy now. They don’t take up the space that a large sauna does, they are private, and dual-purpose giving them wider appeal and, therefore, probably adding monetary value.

      We have been at our DIY, down-to-the-studs renovation of our 1911 house for 3 years now. Whenever we need to choose between trendy or standard (monetary value) and what we want, we choose us. Regardless of trends and even despite good design at times, I want my living space to work for me. Future buyers will most likely renovate again to make it work for them.

    1. Thank you so much Liz! Ironically, when I was in Florida last month, I was freezing practically the entire time, mostly because of AC. Couldn’t wait to get to my over-heated old apartment. lol However, my skin is suffering.

      Hope they have a steam bath. haha. We’re taking a cruise.

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Hi, I’m Laurel, and Laurel Home is the website and blog for Laurel Bern Interiors.
I’ve been creating new-traditional interiors since 1988. The blog is where I share all.

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