Cliff May: Classic California Ranch


Cliff May is considered the father of the California ranch house, creator of a classic mix of modern and the traditional white-washed adobe. Here’s a flawlessly-restored version, for sale in Solvang.

The Basics: Four bedrooms, four baths plus a half-bath on almost two acres in the Santa Ynez Valley north of Santa Barbara, and asking $1,750,000.

Not So Basic: Located in the Alisal Ranch, once a classic “dude” ranch when “dude”  had something to do with horses and had not yet become a line from The Big Lebowski. Like many May designs, the house has thick block walls finished to look like adobe, with the central space under his signature pitched roof and open at each end. Inside it’s finished with a modernist version of latilla, a Mexican technique of using tamarisk branches for ceilings, and the latilla extends out to shade a patio and the pool.

Plus a huge fireplace for chilly nights. While his practice included everything from commercial buildings to tract houses, he’s probably best known for these comfortable ranch-style retreats, thoughtfully sited and organized  to radiate off the central indoor-outdoor space, with bedrooms in one wing and the kitchen, service areas and carport in another.

Listing: 3130 Oxbow Place, Solvang [Sotheby’s]

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