From a snowy A-frame in the mountains to a sunny poolside Santa Barbara cabana, these are the top 15 home tours that caught your attention.

Pioneertown House Outdoor Spa
Lance Gerber
A jacuzzi/plunge pool combo is removed from the house for privacy.

It was a year of shipping delays, skyrocketing inflation, over-priced plywood, and an unprecedented obsession with real estate and home improvement. And 2021 was also a time when many of us spent more hours inside our own four walls than ever before, searching for great ideas to make our living spaces more comfortable and inviting. Here at Sunset, we were happy to have been able to provide an armchair escape, and a peek at some of the West’s cleverest, coolest, most appealing homes.

A few themes emerge from this top 15 list of our most-loved home tours. One is that our readers love houses that let the outside in, incorporate jolts of joyful color, and have perfected the clean-lined kitchen.

Here, take a gander at our home tour year-in-review. There are plenty of great ideas here for the taking.

15. A No-Fuss, Modern House in Laguna Beach Is as Chic as It Is Indestructible

Cheerful tile and kid-proof design made this sleek modern family house a winner.

indoor-outdoor-living-laguna-beach-modern-family-home
Reconfiguring the house to open it up for an easy indoor-outdoor flow was a priority for the homeowners.

Chad Mellon

14. This Spanish Revival Home Used to Be “Icky,” Now It’s a Family’s “House of Colorful Stories”

The appealing mix of family heirlooms and joyful color made this Los Angeles home hard to resist.

living room Spanish remodel Toni Lewis pink sofa
The homeowner grew up with this distinctive rug in her family home in Atlanta, and it was the starting point for the living room decor.

Marisa Vitale

13. Mother’s Little Helpers: A Santa Barbara Family Works Together to Build the Ultimate Cabana

Teamwork made the dream work in this family’s backyard, where artist and master crafter Jill Ellis and her father built an airy, inviting pool cabana.

Ellis Cabana Living Room
A one-room cabana with a kitchenette and bath wears multiple hats as a guest room, art studio, and entertaining space.

Thomas J. Story

12. A Renovated A-Frame Near Lake Arrowhead Builds the Case for a Pink Front Door

This sweet, petite, whitewashed retreat blew up our Instagram—and we can see why. The pink front door and vintage-boho decor is a photo-ready haven in the Southern California mountains.

Living Room
Little Apple A-frame in Running Springs was an Instagram sensation.

Thomas J. Story

11. Low-Key, Playful, and Ready for a Glass of Cab: Steal These Outdoor Living Ideas from a Whimsical Napa Tasting Garden

Was it the tricked-out Airstream lounge? Or the preppy-but-rustic outdoor seating? This unconventional home tour—technically, a Hoopes Vineyard tasting room tour—was a summer highlight.

Banner Day Airstream Detail
Banner Day outfitted a vintage Airstream trailer like a chic studio apartment, with pops of red, soothing grey and brass accents.

Colin Price

10. A Family of Six Settles into a Traditional Craftsman with Country-in-the-City Style

We have a soft spot for chicken coops around here, and a renovated Craftsman house that’s loaded with style. It’s no secret why Lauren Soloff’s Los Angeles house was a such a hit.

Recreation Room with Kitchenette
An attic is transformed into the perfect hang-out space for a blended family with three teenagers and a preschooler.

Thomas J. Story

9. A Touch of Dark Glamour Transforms a Pasadena Ranch House

Designer Kirsten Blazek is a master of a kind of sleek glamour that combines vintage lines with modern art, a restricted color palette, and sculptural light fixtures in this reimagined ranch house. A few pops of moody wallpaper finish the job.

By knocking down a few walls, Blazek created an open concept kitchen/living/dining area, which opened up the formal dining room to use as a primary bedroom.

Alex Zarour of Virtually Here Studios

8. This Laurel Canyon Cottage Was Cramped and Dark. Now It’s a Haven of Light and Space.

A bungalow tucked away off of a winding street in L.A.’s Laurel Canyon gets a new life as a light-filled, architectural dream house with the addition of a second floor and big windows.

A sitting room with a built-in sectional is part of a large primary bedroom suite.

Laure Joliet

7. Back to the Future: Starting a New Life in a Vintage Mid-Century Home

A classic, mid-century modern with clean angles and an idyllic desert garden is a great second act for its vibrant owner.

Karlyn Neel at Her Front Door
Karlyn Neel at her front door in Palm Springs.

Thomas J. Story

6. A Subtle Remodel Turns an Architectural Gem into a Young Seattle Family’s Dreamhouse

A hilltop home in suburban Seattle becomes a sanctuary for a young, creative family while preserving its classic details and mid-century pedigree.

Kitchen
A spare, mid-century Lovett house in Seattle becomes a cozy family home with a seamless addition.

Rafael Soldi

5. How an Ojai Ranch House Went from Ho-Hum to OMG (Hint: It Involves a Fiery Pink Door)

Unlacquered wood, white walls, and intensely colorful accents give this Ojai house a uniquely modern—but cozy—point of view.

A glimpse from the primary bedroom to the office reveals a bold wall painted in architect Barbara Bestor’s favorite yellow: Bumblebee by Benjamin Moore.

Laure Joliet

4. Two Architects Erase Everything Basic About Their Family’s Ranch House

By painting this Mar Vista house black, and removing some interior walls, married architects create a minimal retreat for their family of four.

open-living-room-mar-vista-modern-takashi-yanai
The living space is essentially one large room that wears many hats, serving as the living, dining, working, and relaxing space.

Paul Vu

3. This Sacramento Stunner Is Built to Beat Intense Heat

Cross breezes, concrete floors, and an open, uncomplicated floorplan keep this house cooler during intense summer heat waves. And despite its size, it blends seamlessly with the natural, low-maintenance landscape.

back patio modern house Klopf Architecture Sacramento
The roofline of this clean-lined house is sloped, increasing in height from the front of the house to the rear. This way, there’s more privacy and a less imposing facade for the neighbors, and taller windows in the back to let in light and views of the natural surroundings.

Mariko Reed

2. A Drab Traditional Gets a Colorful Modern Makeover

A creative Los Angeles couple turns an outdated traditional house into a comfortable, modern one filled with books, art, color, and life.

The Gibbins added layers of texture and color to their living spaces with vintage maps, Christopher Farr pillows, and their collection of art and photography.

1. This “Cowboy Modern” Desert Retreat Has Majestic Views, And a Tiny Eco Footprint

Sleek and spare, with massive windows designed to take in the stunning view, this Pioneertown retreat turned plenty of heads. The simple structure uses an awning that spans the length of the house to create much-needed shade, a cool spot for morning coffee, and a perfect perch to take in the night sky.

Cowboy Modern Hometown Wrap-Around Patio
A covered patio that spans the full length of the Pioneertown house designed by Jeremy Levine is a shady, comfortable spot for lounging.

Lance Gerber


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