The West's best houses

Take a look at our Western Home Award winners
Jess Chamberlain, Daniel Gregory, Joyanna Laughlin, Peter Sackett, and Peter O. Whiteley

Our 2006 winners

Tucson (Merit Award/custom house): This low-slung dwelling fits its sloping site like a saddle straddling a horse, yet still offers tall interiors that open to outside sitting areas.

Sausalito, CA (Honor Award/remodel): The remodel shows sensitivity to what was there before, while bringing in much more natural light.

Juliaetta, ID (Merit Award/vacation house): The challenge of this home was to create a nature-oriented getaway on a steep slope, while keeping the setting as pristine as possible.

Santa Monica, CA (Merit Award/remodel): This two-story rear addition to a 1950s house - continuing the modern post-and-beam architecture of the original house in a subtle way - is almost seamless.

Cannon Beach, OR (Special Award/Earth-friendly materials): Tucked into a coastal hilltop site beneath a sod roof, this energy- and resource-efficient home integrates cutting-edge technology with timeless natural materials.

Gardnerville, NV (Special Award/Earth-friendly materials): The Sierra Nevada makes a rugged backdrop for this angular, contemporary home that employs alternative construction techniques and solar technologies.

Orcas Island, WA (Merit Award/vacation house): The owners wanted to inhabit a private wooden "sculpture" with protected water views.

The Sea Ranch, CA (Merit Award/vacation house): Making the most of a narrow lot without compromising views or disrupting a cypress grove was the object here.

Redmond, WA (Honor Award/new community): This community of 12 houses, none larger than 1,000 square feet, gathers around an expansive green.

Stinson Beach, CA (Merit Award/custom house): This beach house, at once polished and rustic, embodies casual indoor-outdoor living.

Puget Sound, WA (Merit Award/vacation house): A comfortable retreat fits into a tiny but durable 16- by 22-foot package perched on a gusty island northwest of Seattle.

Denver (Merit Award/remodel): This remodel integrates house and landscape with a handsome L-shaped patio.

Vashon Island, WA (Merit Award/custom house): The owners wanted the best of both worlds - "to enjoy a rural environment and still be close to Seattle."

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About these awards

Sunset explores truly great home design every two years with the Western Home Awards, sponsored by the American Institute of Architects and Sunset since 1957.

This year's jury, composed of architects and Sunset staffers, met last September to choose 13 homes out of 250 entries from across the West. The winners - which range from a forest-inspired getaway on Orcas Island, Washington, to a "stealth addition" in Santa Monica - demonstrate that a strong sense of place, along with a vivid connection to the outdoors, is a key measure of quality.

The winning projects also spotlight the expanding trends of eco-savvy building and innovative community design. It's an inspiring architectural buffet.

The jury
Charles Anderson, architect, Seattle

Marsha Maytum, FAIA, San Francisco

Elizabeth Moule, architect, Pasadena

David E. Shambach, AIA, Tucson

Boyce Thompson, editor-in-chief, Builder magazine, Washington, D.C.

John Wolff, AIA, Boulder, CO

Irene Edwards, Sunset executive editor

Daniel P. Gregory, PhD, Sunset senior editor

Peter O. Whiteley, Sunset senior writer

Winners will be recognized at a ceremony hosted by Marvin Windows and Doors and James Hardie Building Products at Sunset's headquarters.