Cliff May Education & Resources

Cliff May is one of the most influential builders in America. His use of open spaces and building homes that help people enjoy their living space is even more appreciated today. We have brought just a few Education & Resources for you.


Carefree California: Cliff May and the Romance of the Ranch House

Author: by Nicholas Olsberg, Jocelyn Gibbs


61EC4h7r+PL._SX258_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_BO1,204,203,200_[/one_half][one_half_last]This landmark volume is an authoritative, richly illustrated examination of the origins, evolution, and influence of the California ranch house. Carefree California looks at a legendary figure in Southern California design, Cliff May, and the ubiquitous domestic icon his name evokes, the ranch house. We also see how other architects—from George Washington Smith to Rudolph Schindler—pursued different paths toward the same kind of relaxed domesticity exemplified by the ranch house. By the late ’50s, much of the world was fascinated with California living and with the ranch house in particular, which derived from architects’ evocation and reworking of distinctive regional traditions, allied with the pervasive romance and myths of the California frontier, and from the cultivation of a domestic architecture that could serve distinctively Californian ways of carefree living. By uncovering patterns for living that suited the automobile age among the almost archaic forms and rhythms of mission and pioneer dwellings, an extraordinary range of modernism emerged that was at once grounded in history and soaring into the space age.[/one_half_last]

Cliff May and the Modern Ranch House

Author: Daniel P. Gregory


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.[/one_half_last]

Western Ranch Houses by Cliff May

Author: Paul C. Johnson



[/one_half][one_half_last]The success of the first edition of Sunset Western Ranch Houses led Sunset and Cliff May to bring out a second edition in 1958. Very different than the first edition, this too proved to be a best-seller. In addition being more thorough than the earlier work, the second edition also showed that May’s architecture was going in new directions. He still preserved the rustic traditions and materials of the ranch house, but his designs were more open and flexible. The houses show that May had absorbed many of the modernist advances in domestic architecture taking place in Southern California, while still maintaining his esthetic roots in the Spanish ranch house.[/one_half_last]

Cliff May and the Modern Ranch House

Author: Daniel P. Gregory

[one_half]51c1DxJfZOL._SY344_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_BO1,204,203,200_[/one_half][one_half_last]This book arrives March 18th, 2008. Daniel P. Gregory is an editor at Sunset Magazine. This promising book is the first modern work devoted exclusively to Cliff May.[/one_half_last]

Atomic Ranch

Author: Michelle Gringeri-Brown


[/one_half]51ytVBhWLlL._SX258_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_BO1,204,203,200_[one_half_last]Atomic Ranch is an in-depth exploration of post-World War II residential architecture in America. Mid-century ranches (1946-1970) range from the decidedly modern gable-roofed Joseph Eichler tracts in the San Francisco Bay area and butterfly wing houses in Palm Springs, Florida, to the unassuming brick or stucco L-shaped ranches and split-levels so common throughout the United States. Authors Michelle Gringeri-Brown and Jim Brown, founders and publishers of the popular quarterly Atomic Ranch magazine, extol the virtues of the tract, split-level, rambler home and its many unique qualities: private front facades, open floor plans, secluded bedroom wings, walls of glass, and an easy-living lifestyle. From updated homes with high-end Italian kitchens, terrazzo floors, and modern furniture to affordable homeowner renovations with eclectic thrift-store furnishings, Atomic Ranch presents twenty-five homes showcasing inspiring examples of stylish living through beautiful color photographs, including before and after shots, design-tip sidebars, and a thorough resource index.[/one_half_last]


Magazine Cover Home

[one_half]Google ChromeScreenSnapz002[/one_half][one_half_last]This brochure was found when remodeling the kitchen of a Cliff May house in Prarie Village, KS. Thank you so much to Deanna for allowing us to host it.[/one_half_last]


Long Beach Ranchos

[one_half]Google ChromeScreenSnapz003[/one_half][one_half_last]This brochure was found when remodeling the kitchen of a Cliff May house in Prarie Village, KS. Thank you so much to Deanna for allowing us to host it.[/one_half_last]


Special thanks to Jerry Lerma who uncovered these vintage Cliff May advertisements in the CSU Pomona archives.

Other Cliff May Neighborhoods

Looking for a little inspiration? Feeling like Murphy’s Law only applies to you? Check out the other Cliff May owners and track their progress.

Harvey Park Modern

This is a great site for the Harvey Park neighborhood in Denver, CO. Harvey Park has a number of Cliff May homes as well as some other MCM homes.

la Casa de Larga Jornada

“The House of the Long Journey” – A 1974 Cliff May designed custom home in Rancho Santa Fe, CA.

Rancho Rehab

Restoration of a Cliff May prefab in the Long Beach “Ranchos” neighborhood.

our love of cliff may

Details the nitty (and very frequently gritty) remodel of a prefab in Prarie Village, KS.

Red Bud Cliff May

Site for a unique, 1940s X-shape custom Cliff May home in Red Bluff, CA.

Cliff May Restovation

“Restovation” of Stephen’s Cliff May prefab in Tustin, CA.