Cliff May and the Modern Ranch House
Cliff May’s modern homes epitomize the indoor-outdoor lifestyle characteristic of the American Dream, fusing the open plan/open living philosophy with the traditional ranch house. Starting in the 1930s, the modern ranch house took the country by storm, migrating from California to Arizona, and Cliff May was the chief proponent of this style. His long, low designs managed to be both modern and traditional, celebrating a casually elegant, indoor-outdoor lifestyle, and drawing inspiration from California’s Spanish Mexican ranchos while embracing the latest technological gadgetry. With their low profile, large carports and garages, patios, and expansive horizontality, May’s modern ranch houses became synonymous with the nascent California lifestyle and were enthusiastically promoted by the popular Sunset magazine throughout the U.S. He personally designed and built more than 1,000 homes and commercial buildings, and over 18,000 designs are attributed to his office, including the Robert Mondavi Winery and the offices of Sunset.Complete with new color photography, Cliff May and the Modern Ranch House celebrates the best of May’s work, from his start building homes during the Depression to how he evolved a brand of regional modernity that fulfilled the public’s desire for informal living in the 1950s and 1960s.
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