You've probably read about the Sunset Idea House - a model house showing off the newest building techniques, materials and design possibilities of recent years that the Sunset Magazine folks build at their Menlo Park campus every year since 1998. However, not every single "idea house" is in Menlo Park; in 2003, Sunset brought us a new project: the Sunset Idea Neighborhood, a model development of two Craftsman bungalows built by Mark De Mattei and his firm De Mattei Construction. These homes sit next to each other on a hillside in Los Gatos, not far south of San Francisco and just over the mountain from Santa Cruz.
This wasn't De Mattei's first project with Sunset, either; the previous year a 66-year-old Willow Glen property that he remodeled and restored was featured in a series of articles - "Diary of a Remodel" - the first such remodel diary that Sunset published, a type of content which is now quite popular in that and many other publications. And in another touch that the always practical-minded folks at Sunset thought up, you can even buy the plans for this home online.
These won't be De Mattei's last projects with the magazine; this year, Sunset partnered with Popular Science magazine to feature not just contruction materials and techniques but building and entertainment technologies as well with the 2006 House of Innovation, also built by De Mattei. This Silicon Valley property is open to the public from early September through late November 2006.
Of course, the Idea House project is a great deal for Sunset; not only do visitors pay admission to see the current iteration of the idea house (the current/upcoming Celebration Idea House debuts at their Menlo Park campus on the May 20/21 weekend; admission is free with the $10 admission charge to the "celebration weekend" event), the house itself is for the most part a showcase of products made by the magazine's many advertisers. Maybe some Sacramento architect or designer should contact me about a possible Hewn & Hammered idea house!