If I ever build a house, I’ll drop a stack of Cliff May home photos on my architect’s desk for inspiration. In southern California, May was a pioneer of building characteristics that we think of today as the hallmarks of midcentury modern ranches — clean lines, open floor plans, and an indoor-outdoor feel. So on a recent trip to Los Angeles for Andrea’s work, we spent an afternoon in Long Beach cruising May’s Rancho Estates tract neighborhood, built in 1953-54.
The Rancho homes have opaque facades and high privacy fences that reveal little about their interiors. If you’re
nosy curious like I am, you can mine real estate sites such as Rancho Style for photos of light-soaked rooms, swanky pools, and lush courtyards. Although I had to imagine what modern treasures lay beyond the walls, I gleefully shot the sculptural plants, rock gardens, colorful gates, and vintage cars visible from the street. Unless otherwise noted, all photos were taken by me from public property.