California Ranch House, designed by Cliff May, is a breath of fresh air

Cliff May shaped California living in ways that few designers or architects have. His post-war “dream homes” resulted in what is now known as California Ranch.

This exquisite example in Montecito, Southern California’s Santa Barbara County, benefits from May’s own hand in 1969 creation and recent tasteful updates modernizing the indoor and outdoor residence.

Santa Barbara-based interior designer Micholyn Brown spent two years renovating the sleek home by incorporating luxurious finishes while maintaining its architectural integrity.

The long, low profile and open floor plan are in keeping with the ranch style, which combines modernist concepts, nostalgia for the American West, and informal living.

A long ridge of skylights towers over the grape pole and the vaulted wooden beam ceilings in the great room. Details include terracotta tile floors, floor-to-ceiling windows, and built-in shelving. Sliders open to courtyards and patios, in keeping with May’s intention to integrate the interior with the exterior.

The main house, painted white, has an adjoining living and dining room, three bedrooms and 4.5 bathrooms. The master suite has a fireplace and two full bathrooms.

The updated kitchen includes an island with bar seating, skylights, pendant lights, and a breakfast area with banquet anchors. An interior window and passage opens the kitchen further to the formal dining room.

Separate buildings are connected by a passage and are at a slight angle to the main house. They house an office and guest quarters with two bedrooms and a bathroom.

The 1.36 acre site is covered in pathways, stone walls, raised gardens, sequoias, and fruit trees.

A guarded golf cart path leads from the garage to the second fairway at Birnam Wood Golf Club. The members’ club has an 18-hole golf course designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr., tennis, restaurants and a fitness center, among other things.

Patricia Griffin of Village Properties is the realtor for 2069 China Flat Road, Montecito. The asking price is $ 8.5 million.

May, known as the father of the California Ranch, is credited with designing more than 1,000 bespoke residences, as well as the models for more than 18,000 wing houses.

A 1986 New York Times article quoted the then 77-year-old of his typical ranch style as saying, “I rebelled against the box-shaped houses that are being built…. The ranch house had everything a California house should be – it had cross ventilation, the floor was level, and with its courtyard and exterior corridor, it was all about sunshine and informal outdoor living. ”


Village Properties is a founding member of Global Advance Guide Properties, a consumer marketplace and member network of elite brokers selling the world’s most luxurious homes.

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