The Characteristics That Define a Ranch Style Home

Ranch Style Home Salinas

According to Forbes Magazine, Ranch style homes account for the largest percentage of homes built in the early 20th century. The Ranch style first appeared in the1920s, inspired by Colonial Spanish architecture. The Spanish colonial masters developed houses that were enormous in size and included all the necessities for a home in one place. The design was very simple; it was a one-story house used by ranchers who lived up the mountains. However, over time the design developed and changed to different types of ranch style homes as we will see later on.

The early ranch style homes were characterized by rooms that opened into the veranda and combined other spaces such as kitchen and living room or had an eat-in kitchen. They seemed to follow some of Frank Lloyd Wright designs which made the yard appear as part of the interior through the use of large french windows and doors.

The early designs of ranch houses were designed and built for the wealthy people since they were expansive and needed a lot of money. Around the 1940s, several California builders started offering simplified versions of ranch homes. The ranch homes were approximately 1000 and 1500 square feet in size and offered many unique features. They became the most popular houses in California and the effect quickly spread to New York and other parts of the country. Until the 1980s ranch-style homes were the most popular type of houses in the country.

Today, most ranch style homes are not much similar in appearance to the post world war ranch homes. There are many modifications that have been made, with different individuals seeking to add their own custom features. With that said, there are some general ranch style home characteristics that have remained constant. Before we look at these characteristics, let’s have a look at the types of modern ranch style homes.

ranch style with gate

Types of ranch homes

  • California ranch – The California ranch homes borrow from three sources. The initial homes were designed by Spanish colonial masters. Later on, most of the houses followed a design created by Cliff May, which modified the early colonial ranch homes. Some of the aspects of the California ranch homes borrow from the Arts and Craft Movement. The California ranch homes are the ideal idea of a ranch home that most people think about when we talk of such homes. They take the simple L or U shape and usually have a courtyard at the center.
  • Suburban ranch – The Suburban ranch style was made popular in the 1940s following the end of the second world war. This ranch style includes homes that are quite smaller in size as compared to the original California designs. The Suburban ranch homes are usually built on concrete slabs and share an open floor concept as the California ranch homes. The homes are also connected with the outdoor space creating an environment where the outdoor looks like part of the interior design.
  • Split-level ranch – The split level ranch homes borrow a lot from the suburban ranch. They feature three levels of living with the front door leading to the main living area. The living area is usually a combination of the kitchen, dining room and living room. The staircase leads to the bedrooms while other staircases lead down to additional living space.
  • Raised ranch – The raised ranch house is built on the concept of having upstairs and down stairs living space. When you enter the main door, you have an option of walking up or down the staircase. In this design, spaces such as garage and storeroom are usually beneath the kitchen and living area. This design tries to save on the area covered by the house- by having several rooms in a small space.
  • Storybook ranch – Storybook ranches are simply something out of the movies. Most storybook ranches are still a reserve of the wealthy since they include plenty of features not available to the other types of ranches. They are also known as Cinderella ranches and are made with custom exteriors that outweigh the look of other ranch style homes. They have diamond-shaped window panes with exposed rafters and ornamental trim.

Modern Ranch Style Home

Characteristics Of Ranch Style Homes

All the Homes Above although different in one way or another, they share key basic characteristics. Here are 7 Characteristics of ranch style homes that are visible across all the types of ranch homes discussed above.

  1. Asymmetrical Design – Among most of the designs mentioned above, one of the evident characteristics is the asymmetrical design. The ranch houses are usually U or L shape with a long horizontal facade facing the street. The ranch homes are usually one story and are usually built low to the ground. If the ground is irregular, they tend to follow the contour of the ground. There are a few post world war ranch homes that are constructed on concrete slabs. Such houses do not have a basement or cellars. Most ranch style homes are wooden structures with the exterior being constructed of brick or stucco.
  2. Hipped Roof with Wide Eaves – The main roofing styles for ranch houses are either hipped or gabled. The houses also have wide heaves. The Gabled roofs are simple and contribute to the affordability of a ranch house. If you want to buy a ranch house, a gabled roof would be a more convenient option. Hipped roofs provide support and stability especially in areas prone to strong winds. Most importantly, these roof designs offer great space for the attic for proper ventilation. Some ranch houses can accommodate cathedral ceiling thanks to the spacious attic.
  3. Open Floor Plan – Nothing defines a ranch house better than an open floor plan. The open floor plan ensures that the interior is well ventilated with sufficient supply of natural light. Many homes utilize ranch style interiors by combining the living space even though they are not ranch houses. This design offers a large space for family time and is also affordable during construction since the interior walls are excluded. In most cases, the bedrooms are usually located to the front of the house. You may choose to have as many bedrooms as you wish, although most ranch style homes have just 3 bedrooms.
  4. Modest Exterior Decoration – When it comes to exterior decor, people choose different styles. There are those who opt for a modern look while others will go with the traditional ranching designs. Most homeowners opt for the modest exterior decor using naturally available resources. Just like traditional ranch homes, exterior decor can be done using natural vegetation, rocks, and wood stucco. The use of such materials will give your home a classic look. The fascination with ranch houses was associated with the wild west in the 1950s. Many people watching cowboy movies ended up with a desire to own homes resembling the wild west living style. The exteriors for such houses was clearly made to look natural in as many ways as possible. Most modern ranch homes may have a different approach to exterior design. There are many city ranch houses that have been designed to suit the townhouse look of modern houses.
  5. Sliding Glass Doors – Sliding glass doors have become a popular option for most ranch homeowners. The sliding doors on most ranch homes lead out to the porch and tend to put more emphasis on the beauty of the outdoors. Thanks to the large glass, the house enjoys sufficient natural light, connecting the interior with the exterior. You can enjoy the beauty of the outdoors even when you are sitting in your house.
  6. Large Windows – Another characteristic of ranch-style homes that tends to focus on the outdoors is the widows. Most ranch style homes enjoy Large picture windows that offer an excessive view of the front yard. When combined with the open layout of the house, they offer the best interaction of indoor and outdoor space. This explains why most ranch homes enjoy a light airy environment throughout the year.
  7. Attached Garages – Ranch homes were synonymous with sunburn regions in the 20th century. Most people built their ranch homes away from the city where they had to commute back to the city on a regular basis. For a long time, the dealers of suburban areas had to own a car and have a garage attached to their homes. This design has remained relevant until today with most ranch houses being constructed with garages. You will always find attached garage being part of the ranch style.

Ranch Style American Home

Updating Your Ranch-Style House house

If you are contemplating to buy a ranch house, you must keep in mind that the style has changed a lot. You might be forced to change a few things here or there when updating your house. Some factors to consider when updating your ranch house include:

  • Breakable Bearing Walls – In most home designs, there are several interior walls that you cannot knock down without damaging the structure of the house. However, ranch homes give you an option with the non-load bearing walls. Such walls can be broken down without affecting the structure of the hose. This gives you an easy time in case you want to redesign your living space. With an interconnected living space, you can easily adjust the look of your kitchen and living room to suit your desire at a particular time.
  • Easy to Landscape – Landscaping your ranch house starts from within. The long face of the house allows you to easily landscape and uplift the look of your home. When you buy a new ranch home, you can choose to either landscape based on your ideas or follow the already laid down structure.
  • Paint to the Climate – One of the biggest undoings of the ranch style home is the large floor which allows a lot of cool air or heat to escape. It is a big problem trying to control the hose temperature with such an open space. However, with the right colors, you can get to control the energy flow in your ranch house easily. Think about painting darker shades during winter and light shades in the summer. The ranch house is one house design that needs constant remodeling at every season.

Benefits of Buying a Ranch-Style Home

There are many positives of buying ranch homes as compared to other home styles. Many factors including remodeling and exterior decor play an important role when buying a home. A ranch home is more beneficial in the following ways.

  • One Level – Most ranch houses are built on one level with little use of raised spaces. The ranch house follows the contour of the land allowing those who use wheelchairs to easily access the main entrance. Another great factor to consider is the fact that everything is in one place. The availability of all living essentials in the combined living space makes access to necessary accessories very easy.
  • Natural Light – Natural light is a natural therapy. If you are looking for a house that will help you get in touch with nature, think about ranch homes. A ranch home is built on the principles of free-flowing air and light. The large window panes and sliding doors allow the flow of sufficient light, which make it possible for you to combine the interiors and exteriors.
  • Easy Remodeling – Home remodeling usually takes a lot of money, however, with the ranch style, you can remodel without using any money. The non-load bearing walls give you the chance to create extra space in the house or move some sections of the house. The walls can be broken and transferred to create space according to your intended purpose at any time. Ranch houses can also be remodeled by landscaping. Since the landscape is part of the interiors, you can add some exterior features to beautify the interiors.
  • Ample Outdoor Space – If you are one of those who love gardening, you will enjoy the ranch style home experience. With a ranch home, the garden stays with you in your house. You don’t have to get out to enjoy the beauty of your flowers. With a good plan, you can get all your favorite flowers reflecting on the interior decor.


Ranch style homes have for a long time been the most popular home styles in the US. The beauty of ranch homes is that they use simple symmetrical designs. The Open floor design also allows for quick access to everything at home. You can get yourself a ranch home if you enjoy nature.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply