This Cliff May restoration, located on a private lane in Montecito, was designed with great care to honor the genius of the architect. The house had been neglected for many years and was brought back to life using materials of stone, plaster and wood in warm, neutral colors. The end result is a rustic, yet modern ranch house that is light-filled and ideal for today’s lifestyle.
Considered by many to be the father of the California ranch-style house, Cliff May (1908-1989) was noted for combining the western ranch house and Hispanic hacienda styles with elements of modernism. His approach called for houses to be built out instead of up, with the continual goal of bringing the outdoors in.
Cliff May thought that too much pattern and color interfered with the natural beauty of the outdoors which is a part of every room. To honor this design philosophy, the furnishings that Santa Barbara designer Micholyn Brown selected for the restoration were kept clean and simple, mixed in with a few Spanish Colonial pieces, Borein etchings and modern art.
The texture of the materials in the house are very prominent. May’s signature use of grape stake interior ceilings, stone lined walls create a relaxed, yet elegant ambiance. Dramatic skylights that run along the ridge beams give the house a wash of brilliant light and shadows down the walls, highlighting the soft palette of textures used throughout.
“The furnishings do not overpower or compete with the architecture, but are in partnership and enhance the beauty of the house,” Brown states. “They’re designed to work well with the indoor-outdoor California lifestyle which was the intention when the house was originally designed by May in 1969.”
The kitchen, bathrooms and master bedroom have continuity with the overall plan of the house. The materials that Brown selected are the same throughout the home…limestone, sandstone, wood, plaster and glass.
Cliff May homes are unique in their relationship to the outdoors. They are Californian, built for individuals who want to erase the lines between indoors and outdoors and embrace the spectacular Southern California climate. A descendant of an early California Spanish family, May was raised on a San Diego ranch and loved wide open spaces. It is not uncommon to find that many rooms in his homes have a connection to the outdoors. He felt that if you could not walk out of every room and step outdoors you were not living and taking full advantage of the California lifestyle.
Outdoor rooms for year round entertaining surround the home, with views of a creek and golf course. Floor-to-ceiling glass takes the place of walls to bring light and nature in, creating a relationship to the outdoors that is as much a part of the home as the decor.
Micholyn Brown is often involved in coordinating appropriate landscaping and outdoor garden rooms for her design projects. She takes pride in bringing all elements of design together to enable a project to reach its full potential.
Micholyn Brown Interior Design’s award-winning projects have been published in California Mediterranean by Marc Appleton, Santa Barbara Magazine, Great Estates, SB Seasons Magazine, Home and Garden and Montecito Magazine.
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