Clifford “Cliff” May was touted in the New York Times in the mid-1980s as “the man behind the ranch house.” May, who grew up in San Diego, made furniture in his 20s and never got a formal degree in architecture, built what historians recognize at the first ranch-style house in 1931. ”I rebelled against the boxy houses being built then,” said May. ”The ranch house was everything a California house should be – it had cross-ventilation, the floor was level with the ground, and with its courtyard and the exterior corridor, it was about sunshine and informal outdoor living.” The house was simple to design and build, but it was also malleable – a prospective owner could ask the builder to customize it in an almost infinite number of ways. The ranch-style house also appealed to Americans across the country because it spoke to the spirit of the age. It was close to the earth, took pride in being useful, but it also had a picture window in the front to show off the country’s new-found wealth, and it had floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors in the back to give access to your glorious, green and lush backyard complete with grill and in-ground pool. Its low-slung design allowed car-crazy Americans to add two- or three-car carports, and a sunken living room endowed the structure with a dash of Modernist pizazz. The style was popular with homebuyers and builders, and it has become one of the predominant styles of American architecture.