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Cliff May Restovation


Cliff May Restovation

Votes: 4
Site: Cliff May Restovation
Project: Whole House Restovation
Medium: Blog
About: He’s a mid-century modern fan(atic). Beginning with the outside and working his way in from there, he’s simplified and beautified the outside by removing years of overgrown (and occasionally dead) plantings and freshened the exterior of his home with subtle colors and clean lines. The power of paint never ceases to amaze! Of course it doesn’t hurt to know your efforts aren’t being wasted on a wannabe – this house is a classic.

Who Is Cliff May?

Cliff May is the father of the California ranch home. He designed and built unique homes with horizontal, low-slung profiles that harmonized with nature. Through the use of large expanses of floor to ceiling glass, his designs successfully erased the lines between indoors and out. In 1934, Architectural Digest published a home designed by Cliff May. It was only the second house he had ever designed and built. Throughout the 1930’s, 1940’s and 1950’s his designs continued to grace the pages of Architectural Digest, along with other publications like House Beautiful, House and Garden, American Home, California Arts & Architecture, Sunset Magazine and Architectural Forum.

The Journey of a Thousand Miles

Harboring a long-time appreciation for mid-century modern architecture, on July 23, 2005, Stephen Meade took the official plunge into first-time home ownership with the purchase of a Cliff May ranch style house in Tustin, California. Stephen provides great visual updates in the form of before and after shots throughout his blog posts. His “Journey of a Thousand Miles” begins here.

As Stephen stated early on, “it’s important to clean things up before you can really begin to improve them”. With that strategy in mind he began his quest by demolishing the overgrown landscaping in the courtyard. As time moved on, so did the plant demolition. It soon encompassed the area near his front door and by the time it reached the old rose garden, he had created such a stir that women were flocking to his side (to rescue the roses).

In an effort to tie the exterior of the house together, Stephen decided to tackle some paint projects. Through research he discovered that originally the exterior trim was painted to match the body color of the house’s exterior. He decided to follow the architect’s lead. The painting of the fence, trim and fascia went a long way toward improving the outward appearance at the front of the house. It was further enhanced with a new light fixture that was much more suited to the style of the house, and some funky stainless steel house numbers gave it that little bit of ‘bling’ that it was missing.

More Paint Magic

Stephen discovered the joy of receiving that Christmas when he received his very own paint sprayer. Thanks to that sprayer he was able to make quick work of cleaning up his wood fences. Some of the other outside painting projects included the chimney, garage trim, more fascia boards, beam-ends, pool equipment, a metal fence, and window and door trim. Keeping in mind that this is a Cliff May house, you can imagine just how much trim painting there was to be done around all those windows and doors. Eradication of ‘smurf’ blue on the exterior trim and fascia boards became almost an obsession for Stephen. We can only hope that he doesn’t have the same amount of it on the inside. Exterior work is expected to continue with a new landscaping plan.

The Inside Scoop

Although he felt the inside was in pretty good shape compared to the outside, Stephen has still managed to make some significant improvements. After serious consideration, he painted the ceiling beams in a very dark brown color. To maintain consistency, he is planning to use the same color on all of the ceiling beams throughout the space. Paint has been applied to transform walls in the master bedroom, master bathroom and in the living room. While working on the living room walls, it became apparent that the stucco on the ceiling had to be removed. Removing stucco from a ceiling should not be treated lightly. As Stephen discovered, it is a painstaking process. Judging by the pictures, he should be commended for a job well done. The ceiling is now a smooth and beautiful work of art just waiting for the right lighting. He’s currently considering track lighting with small light heads.

One Room At A Time

On one of his last blogs, Stephen asked for suggestions on what he should work on next. The answer he received came from a friend of his - do one room at a time. We think that’s great advice. If you have any suggestions, please drop him a line. We’re sure he’ll be glad to hear from you.


good work steven
good work steven

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