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Cliff May, The True Western Ranch House Tradition (1967)

The charm of this adobe ranch house is summed up in the view from the parking court. Despite the nearly blank facade - for privacy and protection from the afternoon sun - the house seems warm and inviting.

In The True Western Ranch House Tradition. Home by Designer Cliff May.

With careful attention to the site and climate and to the owner's needs, this large house in the country exploits the traits of the traditional western ranch house. It is a house with a timeless quality. It embodies the easy informality, the sense of shelter, easy movement indoors and out, and warm materials traditional with the ranch type house.

The site is a knoll. Access is from the road to the west, the only side where the site does not give complete privacy. On this side, privacy is achieved by an almost blank but not unfriendly facade, fronted by the parking area. This west-facing facade also minimizes the effect of the hot afternoon sun. Other windows that face west are sheltered by wide overhangs.

This cook island in the kitchen puts plenty of counter space within easy reach; sliding doors close off this area.

The owners made sure their main outdoor living area off the living and dining rooms, and used for entertaining, faced east to provide afternoon shade. They also wanted a good view of the wooded slopes from the kitchen southward and a terrace off the master bedroom on the north. The site was to be disturbed by grading as little as possible and particulary the fine old oak trees were to be preserved.

Night view taken from the terrace shows relation of dining room to living room (right), and kitchen. (background)

Every room in this house except the kitchen opens to an outdoor living area. Movement in and out is easy, through large passageways into floor and terrace surfaces at the same level.

Living room opens to patio (at left) and intimate garden; entry is behind the storage divider.

The living room separates the bedroom wing from the cooking and eating wing. It opens to two paved outdoor living areas, the more intimate patio and the more expansive east facing terrace, for a choice of sun or shade any time of the day. You can enter either wing without passing through the center of the house.

The study combines the quality of both a library and a sitting room; a dropped ceiling creates quiet area at library end.

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