“Patio Living” – A Change For The Better

CliffMayGarageOver the many years he designed and sold his ranch homes, Cliff May made bold changes to help evolve the layout and function of the homes for their residents. The LA Times reports that his first ranch-style house with its living room oriented not to the front and the street but to a rear patio sold very quickly. Making the adjustment of living rooms and entertainment spaces to the rear of the homes gave owners easier access to include the backyard space as a part of their lifestyle without traveling through the more private areas of the home.

Patios and terraces were becoming so much of the living space May began to consider it part of the overall design. PatioLivingMay built homes for families wanting to enjoy the California climate. It is hard to picture entertaining in California during the 40-60s without imagining the man of the house monitoring the BBQ and waving to his wife and children nearby. Playtime and entertainment in the backyard could be easily monitored from behind the wall of glass looking out.  People were very interested in living in one of Cliff May’s “Magazine Homes” advertising the perfect setting for suburban life. All of these picturesque scenes of “Patio Living” in California were made possible by moving the living zones of the Ranch home to the back of the house where all the activity is.

In response to that change,  May began to move the location of the garage as well. Many garages in California homes at the time were essentially located where they were because they functioned as barns and stables until automobiles became more available. Moving the zone dedicated for the family automobile to the front of the home allowed an easier access for the homeowner and a place to display their vehicle as well. The family automobile was becoming as much of an iconic symbol of suburban life as the images mentioned previously about outdoor entertaining. 2113


“Moving cars and their garages to the front saved all that driveway space and cut down on some terrible accidents people had backing up. Now the backyard could really be used for the children and entertaining.” -Cliff May



Many of May’s designs included a carport or breezeway in place of a garage altogether like the Model 2113 shown above with an open carport attached to the right hand side of this plan. The family vehicle was no longer detached from the home and now providing a casual entrance directly into the living space of the family. May’s new locations for the social living areas of a home and the garage became widely popular with buyers and designers in the area. They now are commonplace in many California homes today.

The following two tabs change content below.

Elizabeth Round

Writer - Social Media at Better Living SoCal
Elizabeth Round brings a designer's perspective to her contributions for BetterLivingSoCal. With a background in Interior Design and experience in the Kitchen & Bath Industry, she is drawn to the Mid-Century Modern style for its bold history and inspiration for a simple but inspired life.

Leave a Comment