The Ranch-style house
May grew up in San Diego, California. He built Monterey-style furniture as a young man. As a residential/building designer, May designed projects throughout Southern California, including the regions around San Diego, Los Angeles, and Santa Barbara, California. He is credited with creating the California Ranch-style house in 1932. He never had the need to formally register as a licensed architect.
May, over the course of his career, designed numerous commercial buildings, over a thousand custom residences, and from model house prototypes more than eighteen thousand tract houses had his imprint. May synthesized Spanish Colonial Revival architecture with abstracted California adobe ranchos and Modern architecture. Robert Mondavi chose May to design his winery in which he incorporated features found in construction of California Missions.
The HGTV television show Flip or Flop featured remodels of two Cliff May homes.
- O'Larry House (1932), in San Diego, California
- Lindstorm House (1933), In San Diego, California
- Sheldon Hodge House (1933), In San Diego, California, destroyed by gas explosion in the 1970s
- Porterfield Beardsley House (1933), in San Diego, California
- Highland House (1934), in San Diego, California
- Whalen House (1935), in Bonita, In San Diego, California
- Tucker House (1936), in San Diego, California
- Hacienda Ranch House (1936), in San Diego, California
- Smith House (1936), in La Habra Heights, California
- Oakmont House (1939), in Brentwood Park, Los Angeles, California
- House Beautiful's Pacesetter House (1947), in Los Angeles, California
- Sullivan Canyon Ranches (c.1948), in Los Angeles, California
- Cliff May Experimental House (1952), in Los Angeles, California
- Tanglewood House (1952), in Lubbock, Texas
- Rancho Estates (1953-1954), in Long Beach, California
- Harvey Park (1955), in Denver, Colorado
- Fish-Baughman House (1955), in Millcreek, Utah, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2016
- Cliff May House "Mandalay" (1955), in Brentwood, Los Angeles, California
- Overdale House (1956), in Columbus, Ohio
- Vientos House (1963), in Camarillo, California
- Ocotillo House (1963), in Tucson, Arizona
- Oxblow House (1968), in Solvang, California
- Private Residence (1969), in Phoenix, Arizona
- Charles House (1973), in Fresno, California
- El Vuelo House (1973), in Rancho Santa Fe, California
- Gerald Katell House (1978), in Rolling Hills, California
- Hubler, Shawn (April 24, 2012). "California wine came of age under him Vintner elevated state's wines". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 9, 2010.
- "Cliff May's First Houses 1932-1936" (PDF).
- "7 Classic Cliff May Houses".
- "Ocotillo Residence".
- Cliff May and the California Ranch House, Laura Gallegos, California State University, Sacramento. (PDF)
- Cliff May Architecture
- “Designer of the Dream” by Mary A. van Balgooy published in the Southern California Quarterly 86, No. 2 (2004).
- "Before LA: Cliff May's Beginnings in San Diego" by Mary A. van Balgooy published in The Journal of San Diego History 57, No. 4 (2011).
- Interview of Cliff May, Center for Oral History Research, UCLA Library Special Collections, University of California, Los Angeles.[permanent dead link]
- Cliff May and the Modern Ranch House, Rizzoli, 2008.
- Cliff May Home Registry
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