The Sunset Arms boarding house of 4040 Vine Street is where Arnold lives with his paternal grandparents, Phillip ("Phil") and Gertrude ("Gertie"/"Pookie"). Phil and Gertie are the ones who run the boarding, but it's co-owned by them and Phil's fraternal twin sister (Arnold's great-aunt), Mitzi.
Phil and Mitzi's father won the Sunset Arms in a card game in 1890s, and that's where the twins were born. The house is very old. During the American Revolution (including the Tomato Incident), it was the local center of the resistance against the British (Hey Arnold! The Movie).
In the episode "Door #16", it was mentioned that 13 boarders live there, but it has only 1 bathroom — however, it has been shown to have at least 2 private bathrooms: Mr. Smith's, and Grandpa's ("Four-Eyed Jack"). Ernie Potts claims that the building is made of 2873 bricks ("Fighting Families"). There are several inconsistencies with the layout of the building as well (see below). It is shown to be much bigger than it looks, and Oskar and Suzie's room is shown to have its own private kitchen. Mr. Hyunh's room
is also shown to have a small kitchen in ("Gerald Comes Over"). Room 16, according to Oskar in Door Number 16, is a large split level suite equipped with its own bathroom, as well as other luxurious accessories.
The building does not have central air-conditioning, as shown in the episode "Heat" when Grandpa and the boarders are seen gathered around a window air-conditioner, only to have it conk out as a result of a brownout from the heat wave. The boarding house has an old hot water heating system with radiators located throughout the building. In "Snow", the furnace/boiler fails, and Arnold has to help his Grandpa fix it by wrapping the pipes.
Arnold's bedroom seems to be located in a converted attic, as it has pull-down stairs. The roof is also entirely made of windows, some of which can be opened. Arnold's room is very high-tech, with lights, a stereo system, and a hideaway couch, all of which can controlled with a single remote-control. Helga once got trapped in the space behind the couch in the episode "Helga's Parrot". She even took a close overview of the building's inner structures in the episode "Helga Blabs It All". There are also a couple of hidden storage areas with sliding doors that can be opened and closed via remote control.
The first floor of the boarding house has a nicely equipped eat-in kitchen, separate dining room, living room, family room, and Grandpa's fishing room. The second floor has an untold number of bedrooms, and one communal bathroom. The unfinished basement is largely used for storage, and is home to the furnace, but also has a laundry room with coin-operated washers and dryers, and Grandpa's private bathroom that he managed to keep a secret from everybody, including Arnold and his own wife, until the episode "Four-Eyed Jack".
The boarding house has a large rear-entry garage, where Grandpa parks his beloved green Packard. Arnold and his friends build a float atop an old car in this garage in "Runaway Float". The boarding house has no front yard, as the front doors exits right out onto a public sidewalk, but it has a decent-sized backyard. In many episodes, the boarding house is shown to have a purple 1940s Chevrolet coupe sitting on cement blocks in the backyard.
The roof of the boarding house can be easily accessed from inside the house via a staircase, and it is shown to have a water tower (The building dates back to the 18th or 19th century but it probably has modern public water now). Arnold's Grandma also had her new grand piano lifted onto the roof when the movers could not fit it through any of the doors or windows in the episode "The List".
Only four boarders (other than Arnold and his grandparents, who live in Room #1) seem to be permanent residents:
- Oskar and Suzie Kokoshka (although Suzie moved out sometime between the first and second movie): Room #5 ("Arnold as Cupid"); Room #9 ("Gerald Comes Over"); Room #7 ("Baby Oskar", "Oskar Gets a Job")
- Ernie Potts: Room #7 ("Arnold as Cupid", "Gerald Comes Over"); Room #5 ("Oskar Gets a Job")
- Mr. Hyunh: Room #3 ("Arnold as Cupid", "Oskar Gets a Job", "Mr. Hyunh Goes Country"); Room #21 ("Gerald Comes Over")
- Mr. Smith (Room #16 ("Door Number 16"); Room #6 ("Gerald Comes Over"))
- Lana Vail (Room #6 ("Abner Come Home", "Gerald Comes Over", "Heat")
- Mr. Purdy (Room #6 ("Gerald Comes Over")
- Rhonda, and her parents Buckley and Brooke (Room #6 ("Rhonda Goes Broke")
- Gerald (Room #5) ("Gerald Moves Out")
- Dino Spumoni and Don Reynolds ("Dino Checks Out")
- Baby Oskar ("Baby Oskar")
- The sign outside the door says "No Kids, Pets OK", even though Arnold and Abner live there.
- A recurring gag, originated in the pilot episode, is that each time Arnold comes in and out of the boarding house, a herd of animals comes in or out. Besides Abner, none of those animals belong to anyone in the house.
- To celebrate International Dog Day 2020, Craig Bartlett revealed in a social media post that the names of the dogs are Rufus, Chowder, Coco, and Hotsy.
- The boarding house's address is a reference to the address of the Games Animation Inc studio.
- In "Sally's Comet", a package says "4040 Vineland" as the Sunset Arms' address, but the sign in "Abner Come Home" and Arnold's fliers in "Magic Show" says "4040 Vine Street". The latter address is used as the correct one.
The layout of the boarding house is extremely inconsistent. Aside from the obvious inconsistency with which rooms numbers belong to each border, there are several other inconsistencies worth noting.
- The number of rooms in the boarding house seems to fluctuate throughout. In the episode "Gerald Comes Over", there seem to be enough rooms to house Phil and Gertie, Ernie, Mr, Hyunh, Oskar and Suzie, Mr. Smith, Mr. Purdy and Lana Vail, making a total of at least seven rooms in the boarding house. However, as the show progressed, the layout became more realistic. The Kokoshkas, Ernie and Mr. Hyunh became permanent residents. If one is to count all of their rooms, as well as Dino Spumoni’s room and the spare bedroom used by Gerald in "Gerald Moves Out", the number matches the original number of rooms. Therefore, it can be concluded that the boarding house most likely has six bedrooms/apartments.
- In some episodes, there is an archway separating the hallway between the bathroom and Phil and Gertie's bedroom and the rest of the boarders' rooms. In others, there is none whatsoever.
- The placement of the basement stairs has varied from the episode "Four Eyed Jack" to "On the Lam". In "Four-Eyed-Jack", the basement is accessed through a stairwell behind the coats in an area under the main house stairs. In "On the Lam", the basement stairs are accessed via a door in the family room of the house. It should be noted that there are possibly two basement stairs in the boarding house. The "main" stairs are most likely the stairs as they were in "On the Lam" These stairs would lead to the unfinished basement with the furnace and the washing machines. The "secret" staircase is the one under the house stairs, leading to Grandpa's secret bathroom. This is affirmed in "Four-Eyed -Jack"; all of the boarder, including Arnold, and excluding Grandpa, had no idea of the existence of the extra bathroom. Phil could not have hidden it if the secret stairs were the only staircase in the house leading to the basement.