Emma Wartzman

Sunset has always been full of tips and tricks to help you run your home. As far back as the early mid-20th century, we’ve been doling out suggestions to readers on how to make the most of their space and time. One of Sunset’s first books ever published was Household Handbook in 1941. Some advice is strikingly similar, even more than half a century later.

Take kitchen organization. From the handbook:

“Equipment must be accessible and easy to use, and each piece should be placed where it will be needed. Reaching up on high shelves, poking into dark corners, or moving one thing to get at another, all cut down the usability of any appliance.”

From our website: “Keep everyday-use items handy instead of tucked away in cabinets or drawers. Using a hanging rack for pots and pans and a floating shelf for jarred items accomplishes just that, yet in an uncluttered way.”

photography by Emily Nathan

Some of it, though, is strikingly different. In the handbook, the section on laundry is a guide to figuring out what to do at home and what to send out:

“This depends on what space and equipment you can have, the amount of time and strength available, and what your budget allows.”

These days, we’re more focused on being energy-efficient and environmentally friendly.

“Wash full loads, using cold water when possible (heating water uses energy) and resisting the temptation to use more detergent than instructions recommend (extra just washes down the drain, increasing the amount of undesirable chemicals ending up in wastewater). And line-dry whatever you can. Not only does air-drying save energy, but it also saves your clothes. And the sun-kissed smell ― yum!”

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