The history of twentieth-century domestic Western architecture is thoroughly represented in Sunset (albeit with more emphasis on single-family houses than on multiple dwelling units). From the simple weekend cabin, to Craftsman-style bungalow, through the trademark Western ranch house, to highly self-conscious modernism, Sunset shows us how Western homes look and function.
Left: “Five rooms, bath, hall and screened porch for $2300 at present prices.” An architectural archetype of its time and place: the Craftsman-style bungalow. May 1918, p. 51.
Center: “Tall native trees frame the low rambling cottage” and serve as sentinels to the new priorities of home and garden, Portland, Oregon. February 1929, p. 15.
Right: “Floor space similar to second bungalow. Concrete basement with furnace. Cost, $2600.” A stony variant on a theme that still dominates some older neighborhoods in Western cities. May 1918, p. 51.
Left: “An old live oak, carefully preserved, adds beauty to this new California home.” The idea of building around trees (if not always so closely) recurs both in the pages of Sunset and later in the siting of its headquarters. April 1938, p. 50.
Center: Illustration of patio.
Right: “The low, close-to-the-earth, rambling quality of the… home, and its livability, are typical of the early Western ranch house” and equally typical of the Sunset style. November 1946, p. 26.(photo: Maynard L. Parker)
Left: Western Ranch Houses. The definitive 1958 edition.
Right: “Corner garden in an alcove formed by kitchen, dining room, and maid’s room. Low porches, board and batten, typical ranch-house details.” The maid’s room may be a rarity today, but the other features are very much part of an enduring style. November 1946, p. 27.
“Note pleasant spacing of windows, and (plan) the generous deck and terrace. Estimated cost, $6,000.” Though not the classic Western ranch, this boxy structure does provide opportunities for outdoor living. February 1938, p. 23.
Left: This “home in Los Angeles demonstrates many of the virtues of the Western ranch house. It also testifies to the often-overlooked fact that space, color, flowers, fences are the things that any of us can give to a house are the controlling factors in changing a house to a home.” Integration of house, site, and landscaping is always stressed. November 1946, p. 1.
Right: October 1937 cover
Left: October 1957 cover. This marks the first annual Sunset-AIA Western Homes Awards with a cover story. (photo: Ernest Braun)
Center: A bit of color enlivens this futuristic home. May 1948, p. 25.
Right: “Children have direct access to garden, don’t have to troop through house.” Many Sunset home improvement ideas focus on maximal use of limited space, as in this town house. November 1968, p. 110.
Left: April 1970 cover. An appealing vision of an extraordinary recreational home. (photo: Glenn Christiansen)
Center: 1997 October cover
Right: 1979 February cover