1908 - 1989

Cliff May

Born in San Diego, California, May initially studied business, but dropped out of college after the 1929 stock market crash. Going into business on his own, he designed and sold hand-crafted furniture and, later, houses. His 1930s designs for functional Ranch style houses blended indoor and outdoor living spaces, a pioneering concept in the growing suburban housing market. May’s houses were constructed around one or more patios which provided a transition between sleeping, living, and eating spaces. These all-season, regionally inspired homes were constructed from inexpensive local materials making them popular even during the Depression. Featured in magazines, including House Beautiful, Better Homes and Gardens, and Sunset, the California Ranch house was a staple of the postwar housing boom. Sunset magazine created two books featuring May’s houses, many of which were landscaped by well-known landscape architects, including Doug Baylis, Garrett Eckbo, and Thomas Church. Sunset also contracted May to design its Menlo Park headquarters. May continued to develop his housing designs, which blended traditional and Modern elements to produce a truly contemporary home, until his death in 1989.