One word to describe the home featured on the October 1973 cover: Wow.

From the Sunset Magazine Archives: The Roof Is a Lawn

Don Normark

Sunset's October 1973 cover features a Washington waterside home with a living roof.

While we’re mired in our modern-day present, our curious selves love a visit to the Sunset vault.  Here vintage issues line the shelves, revealing with each careful page turn Sunset’s more than 100-year take on gardening, food, travel, home, and more. Vault time stokes feelings of nostalgia and wonderment.  And at times we leave with an everyday takeaway. 

To share some of our finds we’re launching our From the Vault series. Each week we’ll publish a story highlight right here. It’s our way of welcoming you into the vault.

First up: Sunset October 1973

Sunset’s October 1973 cover features a Washington waterside home with a living roof.

Don Normark

We’re kicking off the series with our 75th Anniversary issue published in October 1973. Why? The cover speaks for itself––the rooftop greens, the pool, and the incredible view. While we’ve put the pause on bread baking until the temps drop, that pool has us scrolling for a similar experience. 

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The roof calls for a zero-proof cocktail in one hand (for unimpaired stair negotiation) and binoculars in the other, to scope out the view of Filucy Bay and beyond. We got a lot of questions about the living roof, but this Washington home was situated on a sloping site so the green rooftop offered premium level space. To maintain the lawn the turf was mowed only 3 times during the growing season for meadow-like results.  Auto sprinklers wet the roof for 12 minutes in the early morning and again for 12 minutes in the evening during dry weather.

Photos by Don Normark and Doug Wilson

But, while the family enjoyed picnics on the roof, the parents kept their children and Fido from the edge. The projecting wood grid doubled as a diving structure for the pool. Idyllic! Or nervewracking? You decide. 

Don Normark

If you recognize this home on Washington’s Filucy Bay, tell us! E-mail We’re uploading more vintage and bonus content weekly to the Sunset app. Join us there!