These A-Frames, Cottages, and Desert Retreats Are Our Most-Loved Homes of 2021
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.