When you’re buying a home, you’ll see a description in the listing for that home. One key element that is usually included is the architectural style of the home. This can be anything from a Cape Cod to a Midcentury Modern style. But one style you’re sure to see a lot of is a ranch style home. But just what is a ranch style house, and is it the right kind of home for you? Let’s take a closer look at this popular American style.
History of ranch style homes
The ranch style home dates back all the way to the 1930s and most likely originated in California. Unlike homes of earlier eras, ranch style homes focused on space and had open floor plans. They created a unique flow between indoor and outdoor living spaces and were easily accessible. This style of home emphasized family life, and often eliminated more formal spaces like dining rooms. Twenty years later, ranch style homes were the most common in America, and the design spread throughout the United States. It was most often found in the suburbs, and dominated the market until the 1970s.
Main characteristics of ranch style homes
It’s easy to spot a ranch style home once you understand their main characteristics. On the outside, ranch style homes have long, low-pitched rooflines with deep, overhanging eaves. The exterior is made with a variety of materials including wood, brick, stone, and stucco. They feature large windows, attached garages, and sliding glass doors. Many also feature back patios to extend the living space outdoors. They are typically single-story homes. On the inside, ranch homes have open-concept floor plans for the kitchen, living room, and dining room. Most include three separate bedrooms and a full basement.
Types of ranch style homes
Although ranch style homes contain most of the characteristics defined above, there are several unique types:
- California Ranch – Cliff May built the first ranch style home in California, and the California ranch blends in with the natural environment. It features elements of the Spanish Colonial and Arts & Crafts styles, and many feature a courtyard in the middle.
- Split-level Ranch – Split-level ranch homes look like traditional ranch style homes from the front. But they actually feature three levels. The front door leads to the main living area and on one side are half-staircases leading up and down. Upstairs you’ll find the bedrooms, and downstairs is additional living space in the basement.
- Suburban Ranch – These homes were most common after WWII, and are smaller than the California ranch style from which they borrow. They are usually built on slabs and also feature open floor plans.
- Storybook Ranch – The storybook ranch home takes the exterior of this style to a new level with more details. You’ll often see ornamental trim, exposed rafters, and other exterior embellishments that add charm.
- Raised Ranch – Similar to the split-level ranch, these ranch style homes have two levels. When you walk inside, there are typically stairs leading upstairs and downstairs, and the downstairs areas usually feature garages and utilitarian spaces.
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