Blog Posts by Sunset Magazine

  • 15 Stunning Container Gardens

    Everything you need to know to plant in containers, leverage vertical gardens, and more.

    A daring blend of texturesA daring blend of textures
    Texture play
    This mix of (counter-clockwise, from top left) Kangaroo paws, Echeveria 'Afterglow', Adenanthos cuneatus 'Coral Drift', and Sedum reflexum provides a daring blend of textures. Container: $40; Home Depot ( for stores).

    Yellow really popsYellow really pops
    Calandiva Goldengirl Yellow kalanchoe (bottom left) pops between 'Silver Shadow' astelia (right) and Euphorbia characias 'Silver Swan' (top left). Container: $40; Target ( for stores).

    Large plants and big potsLarge plants and big pots
    Succulent mini landscape

    Plum-colored foliage is a rich accent against soft greens in these easy-care containers. Arrange taller plants in the center or back, trailers near the pot's edges. For immediate effect, choose large plants and big pots (shown above left: 10 in. across, 14 in. tall; right: 16 by 18 in.). Start smaller for a less pricey combination. Design: Daniel Nolan, Flora Grubb Gardens (

    Grow them: Pick pots with

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  • Best Places to Eat in Portland

    From food carts to microbrews, here are the superstars of the Portland dining and drinking scene.

    Lardo Lardo
    Four-wheeled fare

    Choosing among Portland's fleet of 600 food trucks and carts is a tall order. The gold standard may be Lardo (pictured back in its wheeled days--it has since graduated to brick-and-mortadella status). Rolling or stationary, the place has always been a meat-lover's paradise with perfectly crisp fries cooked in rendered pork lard. A current favorite is the Big Egg Breakfast Cart, which serves up farm-fresh egg sammies and breakfast burritos.
    More favorite Portland food carts

    New Deal DistilleryNew Deal Distillery
    Local libations

    Nestled along "Distillery Row," socially conscious New Deal Distillery crafts vodka and other spirits from organic and local ingredients--including water drawn from the Bull Run watershed.

    Pok PokPok Pok
    Full-tilt Thai

    Fish sauce chicken wings and papaya salad are among Pok Pok's Southeast Asian fare--some of the most authentic this side of the Pacific.
    Who wins in a food fight between

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  • Secrets to a Great Edible Garden

    For one Santa Barbara gardener, harvest season never ends. Here are tips from her extraordinary edible garden.

    Valerie RiceValerie Rice
    Growing the good life
    Valerie Rice's 14 1/2- by 29-foot walled garden explodes with edibles all year. Unlike many vegetable gardens, Rice's yard is designed for looks as well as production. Bamboo trellises turn bean vines into architecture, and apple trees are espaliered near the back wall. In summer, the beds spill with sweet corn, red-speckled beans, lemon cucumbers, and Padrón peppers--"things I can't find in markets," she says. In fall, Romanesco broccoli, watermelon radishes, and greens take over.

    "The garden takes the guesswork out of menu planning," says Rice, who feeds her family of four (she and her husband have two daughters, ages 8 and 10) almost entirely from the garden and writes about it on her garden/food blog, It also serves as the starting point for frequent dinner parties. "I grab a notebook and head outside a couple of days

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  • 7 Amazing Home Makeovers

    See before and after photos from some of our favorite house remodels and renovations.

    Missing: a sense of opennessMissing: a sense of openness
    Before: Open Craftsman remodel
    When this homeowner returned to her native California from New York, she missed the openness of her family's former loft back East.

    So she knocked down a few walls (including those surrounding the former dining room, above) of her Oakland Craftsman-style home to create a more spacious feeling.

    Combined kitchen, dining area, living spaceCombined kitchen, dining area, living space
    After: Open Craftsman remodel
    The ground floor of the once single-story house is now essentially one combined kitchen, dining area, living space, and home office, with bedrooms in an upstairs addition.

    More: Old meets new in Craftsman remodel

    Mission: keep the 1960s vibeMission: keep the 1960s vibe
    Before: Retro ranch

    Obsessed with retro style, the homeowners of this Arizona ranch were determined to keep the 1960s vibe of the house, but with their own spin.

    Accomplished on a tight budgetAccomplished on a tight budget
    After: Retro ranch

    Keeping on a tight budget, they replaced the back wall of the house with windows to open up the space, and decorated inside with a mix of new and

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  • San Francisco Vs. Los Angeles Food Fight

    Two West Coast titans duke it out for the title of best food city.
    More culinary smackdowns

    Coi's Daniel PattersonCoi's Daniel Patterson
    San Francisco: Star wattage

    Coi. Fleur de Lys. La Folie. It's no accident that when the Michelin Guide rolled into California, its first stop was San Francisco, not Los Angeles. Stars of the other kind shine here too. Iron Chefs (Mourad Lahlou). Top Chefs (Jamie Lauren). Food Network talent (Tyler Florence). Difference is, diners here can tell a culinary artist from somebody who plays one on TV.

    Marrow-stuffed squid with tamarind porkMarrow-stuffed squid with tamarind pork
    San Francisco: New ideas

    Food trucks? Check. Burgers? Check. We keep pace, yet we don't rest our laurels on fleeting fashions. The finest of our chefs, like Daniel Patterson of Coi and Jason Fox of Commonwealth, deal in food too distinctive to be called trendsetting. It defies definition, not to mention imitation. But try a dish like Fox's marrow-stuffed squid with tamarind pork, borlotti beans, and black garlic (pictured), and you realize: This is not a fad. It's the new face of

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  • 10 Ways to Be Sustainable Inside and Out

    Learn from two pros who packed all the best water-wise, low-impact, eco-smart ideas into one home--their own.

    Sustainable from plantings to rooftopsSustainable from plantings to rooftops
    Living in sync
    "Don't buy it!" was architect Ken Radtkey's reaction when his then-girlfriend, Susan Van Atta, was considering the 1-acre parcel in Montecito, California. "The place was a mess," admits Van Atta, "But as a landscape architect, I could visualize what it could become." After living there for a few years, the couple married and turned the property into their dream home--one that's sustainable from the plantings to the rooftops.

    The decision to maximize energy efficiency came easily. "The home was a laboratory for all the things we hadn't gotten the opportunity to do with clients," says Van Atta. Setting a portion of the 2,500-square-foot house in a slope provides natural insulation and blends the structure with the surrounding hills. Solar panels supply all the electricity; fire-resistant green roofs are part insulation, part water collectors.


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  • 15 Small-space Decorating Tips

    At the height of Seattle's real estate market in 2003, when Leah and Chad Steen bought their first home, the property was far from picture perfect. "There was no landscaping; the previous owners even left us a note about the sad-looking Charlie Brown tree in the front yard," says Leah, who owns Revival Home & Garden (, a shop in Capitol Hill. "But the house had tons of character, and there weren't holes in the ceiling, like other places we'd seen."

    Inexpensive mingles with high-end Inexpensive mingles with high-end
    Mix high and low
    Inexpensive furniture mingles with high-end touches in the living room: Ikea curtains hang on plumbing pipe behind a $1,200 chandelier from Leah's shop; custom pillows sit atop a bargain (at $579) settee from Urban Outfitters; a hand-painted chinoi­serie coffee table rests on an old Pakistani rug ($85 on eBay).
    How to decorate in a global style

    High class with a couple of coats of paintHigh class with a couple of coats of paint
    Update secondhand furnishings

    A $10 framed mirror from Goodwill reads "high class" with a couple of coats of high-gloss red paint.
    Decorating with

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  • Top 11 Wilderness Experiences

    From luxury tent-camping to glacier hiking, here are the best ways to have fun in the Western wilderness.

    The Resort at Paws UpThe Resort at Paws Up
    Get a massage in the wilderness

    Who it's for: CEOs, celebs, you on a splurge.

    The essence: Camping for people who love nature and indoor plumbing.

    The vibe: Old West meets Old Money.

    Don't worry about: Pitching a tent.

    The Resort at Paws Up is as glampy as glamping gets: Each of its palatial canvas-walled tent camps comes with butler service and furnishings worthy of the Ritz. At suppertime, you'll gather with fellow campers in a sweeping dining pavilion to savor gourmet creations like sautéed quail with summer black truffles. Paws Up has its rugged side too: It sits on 37,000 acres of Montana wilderness and boasts 10 miles of the Blackfoot River (of A River Runs Through It fame). Guests sign up for everything from world-class fly-fishing to hot-air ballooning. Then, when they're done adventuring, they retreat to Spa Town, a tranquil outpost of treatment tents

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  • 9 Raised Bed Garden Ideas

    Free-form corrugated steelFree-form corrugated steel
    Free-form corrugated steel
    We love the look of corrugated metal as a raised bed. Here's how to make your own.
    How to build a corrugated metal bed

    Big-yield bedsBig-yield beds
    Big-yield beds
    Raised beds provide better drainage and aeration than in-the-ground beds and they make harvesting easier. In this garden, one 4- by 4-foot raised bed produces 80 pounds of tomatoes.

    Tiered lookTiered look
    Tiered look

    Plant herbs in a tiered raised bed for a great look and easy access.
    18 indispensable herbs to grow

    One-pot gardenOne-pot garden
    One-pot garden

    A watering trough becomes a great planting bed.
    How to plant a one-pot veggie garden

    Chic recycled metalChic recycled metal
    Chic recycled metal

    Turn scrap metal into super stylish raised beds.
    How to build edgy veggie boxes

    Easy starter gardenEasy starter garden
    Easy starter garden

    On a sunny, narrow stretch of land, newbie gardener Reed Davis installed modular boxes and then planted them, taking notes and photographing each step along the way. In spite of some glitches--like squirrels eating the watermelons--the project's success became abundantly clear within a few months. "I get so

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  • 12 DIY Salvage Makeovers

    Transform castoffs from your garage into cool accessories for your home or garden.

    A living table runner A living table runner
    Before: shipping pallet, After: outdoor table
    Shipping pallets lurk everywhere: abandoned behind grocery stores, stacked in the corners of big-box parking lots. Bay Area bloggers Matti Salomaki and Megan Speckmann decided to remake a piece of this suburban flotsam into something useful--and beautiful. Taking apart a pallet, they constructed a tabletop from its boards, coated it with natural wax stain, and attached legs they'd found at a garage sale. And the genius touch? A living table runner that consists of a sunken, succulent-filled box (complete with drainage holes) secured to the table's underside. Succulents grow slowly, don't mind being packed in like sardines, and need only occasional watering (which is unlikely to cause the wood to rot). We can't think of a better addition to an eat-in garden.

    Design: Matti Salomaki and Megan Speckmann, FarOutFlora, San Francisco (

    Earth-friendly, and it adds personalityEarth-friendly, and it adds personality
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