Cliff Hickman Design & Construction
Santa Barbara, California (805) 308-4324
EMAIL: cliff





First Cliff Hickman Residence
Santa Barbara, California

Most Can Raise the Flowers Now,
For All Have Got the Seed"


The influence of two famous Frank Lloyd Wright buildings can be seen this design. The rough ashlar stonework contrasting with the smooth cantilevered balconies are reminiscent of the famous Fallingwater in Mill Run, Pennsylvania. The plan grid of 4-foot equilateral triangles was adapted from Wright's hexagonal honeycomb module first used in the Hanna House located in Palo Alto, California. The composition, however, is original.


EMAIL: cliff


Upper Floor Plan

Main Floor Plan

Lower Floor Plan

This floor plan is based on a grid of 4 foot equilateral triangles.   This not only creates a "flow" of space within but gives the home a feeling of geometrical organization.  The angles and cantilevers were a good fit for the triangular shaped hillside lot, but it resulted in an especially ambitious first design for a 23-year-old.  The house faces south towards the city and ocean views, and as I started my design it was apparent that the carport HAD to be at the east side requiring a 20% driveway.  However, the best view for a living room would be at the west end at a higher level and the entry would need to somehow be there as well.  I solved this by raising up the main floor and walking UNDER the bedrooms to a centrally located front door.  But the bedrooms at one end with the living room at the other joined only by a narrow dining room would result in a disjointed appearance.  The answer to this was to unify the two parts with a connecting balcony supported by a massive stone pier.  The composition was then balanced by a continuous railing under the bedroom windows ending in a dramatic cantilever over the carport.  Several people have commented to me that of all my designs this one is their favorite.


The following article was announced by HOME as "A Personal Triumph".  It was about eight pages in length consisting principally of photographs taken by my friend Ken Bates when he was a Brooks Institute of Photography student in Santa Barbara. 


JULY 20, 1969

Produced and Photographed by Ken Bates

Clifford Hickman says he'd wanted to build his own house ever since he took a drafting course in the 7th grade. Later he got to know the work of Frank Lloyd Wright and was strengthened in his resolution. Then, when almost through college, he decided the time was ripe. His parents loaned him some money and he left Greencastle, Ind., and came to Santa Barbara. There he bought a third of an acre high in the Riviera district and began to build this house. He was 24 and worked alone. It took him four years and the only things he subcontracted were the sewer, roofing and plastering. He didn't trust a bulldozer, so he moved all the earth by wheelbarrow. He learned plumbing from a book in the library, wiring from a copy of the local code. "I wanted to build it with my own two hands," he says. "I was almost jealous of anyone else who worked on the house. Like a sculptor, I wanted to do it myself."

"As soon as I got started," Clifford Hickman says, "I got out my stereo so I could listen to music while I worked. Much of it was done to Mozart masses, Beethoven sonatas and composers like Bach, Schubert, Hindemith and Stravinsky. The stonework was done to Vivaldi's 'Four Seasons' because it was fast and make me work hard.

"The fellow who sold me the sandstone--from the Kaibab area of Arizona--said it was the biggest order he'd ever had from Santa Barbara. I'd never laid a piece of stone in my life and was scared to death. I literally learned it from the ground up.

"Usually people start out with big ideas, then cut back as costs rise. I never cut back on my original design. In fact, the house grew as I went along. I built one wall three times before I got it the way I wanted it."

Hickman also made the furniture seen in the living room, at right and at left below. The kitchen is at lower right, and the patio on the uphill side is on the facing page. This is an all-electric house, heated radiantly by cables in the ceiling. It seems much larger than its 1,700 square feet, owing largely to the balcony that cantilevers 18 feet. There are 600 square feet of decks.

"This project had no hump," Hickman concludes. "I thought there'd be a turning point when things would get easier, but no. It was hard work….all the way.


[Home] [Falling Dover] [George Michael Estate] [1st Hickman Residence] [2nd Hickman Residence] [Brick & Redwood]

[Mountain Dwelling] [Hillside Ranch House] [Ballard Canyon Project] [Skyline Drive]