Architect Cliff May, who popularized ranch-style homes in California and has designed more than 1,000 custom homes throughout his prolific career, was known for blending the outdoors and indoors, creating designs featuring adobe walls, rooms that opened to ample courtyards, and relaxed outdoor dining areas that infused elements of Spanish haciendas with mid-century-modern design. May’s architectural ingenuity has become a mainstay in Southern Californian neighborhoods. His body of work includes the renowned Mondavi winery in Napa Valley as well as homes lived in by stars such as Ben Affleck and Gregory Peck.
The 4.5-acre home at 881 San Ysidro Lane in the upscale town of Montecito, just 15 minutes south of Santa Barbara, is a masterful representation of May’s work. The home was commissioned in 1952 by a couple who worked closely with May to build a four-bedroom, Y-shaped estate overlooking the Pacific Ocean. At the time, the estate—which included staff quarters and a two-car garage—cost $125,000. Much has changed since then. In 2011, extensive renovations transformed the humble abode into a nearly 10,000-square-foot mansion boasting seven bedrooms, 11 bathrooms, a sport court, a citrus orchard, an oxygenated swimming pool, and a 70-car motor court.
The white stucco stone exterior has a Spanish-influenced tile rooftop, and the interiors are lined with European oak flooring, Italian and French tiles, pitched beam ceilings with skylights, and floor-to-ceiling glass windows. A formal living room with a hand-plastered fireplace and a Carrera marble kitchen flows into the den, and an additional fully detached guest house overlooks the orchard. The master bedroom has its own wing, equipped with large his-and-hers bathrooms, and a private courtyard with a rose garden surrounded by recycled handmade copper plaques salvaged from historic buildings in New York City.
Outdoor areas have native drought-resistant plants like agave, rosemary, and bougainvillea. The drop-down sport court can be used for tennis, racquetball, and basketball; there is also an in-ground trampoline. With endless lounge areas around the pool, an orchard, and modern amenities that cater to creature comforts, this is a California dream home. It is currently on the market for $19.5 million and listed by Jill Reeder of Coldwell Banker.