Understanding the Modern Architecture of Cliff May with Barry Berkus {Video}

Video + Photos / Russ Spencer

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Hear renowned modern architect Barry Berkus discuss the inspiration, style, and architecture of Cliff May–“The Father of the California Ranch Home.” Blending ranch and hacienda, the 1968 Cliff May Ranch House in the Santa Ynez Valley offers a prime location for this interview, since it was recently renovated by Berkus.

“Architects think of modernism as Corbusier’s machine. And what we’re talking about today is something that has a heart and soul.” – Barry Berkus 


Berkus and his firm opened up the structure, paying homage to May’s original vision for the residence.

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Cliff May’s Style

“First and foremost, 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. And in an environment where the sun shines 300 plus days a year and the average high temperature is 75 degrees, why would anyone want to live differently?

It is not uncommon in Cliff May homes to find that every room in the house has a connection to the outdoors. 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. Perhaps the San Diego Union put it best when it featured an original Cliff May design under the heading: “Home with a Garden in Every Room.”” (from

Homes in Dallas by Cliff May

  • 3539 Ainsworth Drive, Dallas, TX 75229
  • 2646 Materhorn Drive, Dallas TX
  • 2611 Andrea Lane, Dallas, TX 75228
  • The Casa View Oaks Neighborhood – “Houses in Casa View Oaks are representative of May’s signature design: an open floor plan with an abundance of space and light beneath a low-pitched gable roof. Large expanses of glass—in both windows and doors—were used to create an open feeling and ease in circulation. Outdoor living was encouraged by the incorporation of patios and barbeque and picnic areas, in many cases doubling the “living space” of each house.

    One of the selling points of the new May houses in Casa View was their modern conveniences, including disposals, built in ranges, a touch-plate lighting wall and radios with speakers throughout the house.” (From

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