How do you rehab a vintage post-and-beam house designed by the architect many consider to be the “father of the California ranch”? Respectfully.

When architect Barry Berkus undertook the remodel of this 1968 Cliff May house, he operated with two parallel objectives. The first was to preserve the integrity, concept, and spirit in which the home was originally conceived. The second was to de-compartmentalize the plan for contemporary living. Execution involved a combination of faithful restoration and new construction.

“His focus was always on light and air, so it made sense for us to open up the kitchen to the living and dining areas and to further extend the visual connections to the outdoors,” says Berkus, a one-time protégé and friend of May. “The space was always bathed in light, and now it is even more so.”

Plumbing, wiring, and radiant floor systems were modernized, ceilings were bolstered with extra insulation, and the kitchen and bathrooms got facelifts. But when it came to refurbishing certain signature features, Berkus went back to the source. The curtain glass wall, for example, was replaced with glazing from the original manufacturer. And the original contractor was consulted on repairs to the dramatic lattice scrim that veils a transom skylight in the living room and then projects out over the pool. Rotted pieces of grape stake—a rough-hewn redwood commonly used in local viticulture—were painstakingly replaced in the ceiling and pool pavilion.

“In this area the temperature can go over 100, and direct light is a problem for artwork, as well as indoor climate control,” Berkus says. “Cliff May’s original solution for filtering light was ingenious, and still is.”

Category: Whole-house makeover or significant addition
Entrant/Architect: B3 Architects, a Berkus Design Studio, Santa Barbara, Calif.
Builder: Randy Barnes, Santa Barbara
Land planner: Arcadia Studio, Santa Barbara

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Santa Barbara, CA.