Defining a House Style: What Is a Ranch Home?


Ranch House Style Guides

Until recently, the ranch house was the most popular house style in the US. It surely wouldn’t be out of place to say that nearly all Americans have at one point in time, stepped their foot in a ranch house. Ranch houses first made their appearance in the American architectural scene in the early 1920s but became a national architectural style after the World War II.

But what made this house style capture the heart of millions of Americans for decades?  In this article you will learn more about the history of the Ranch house, its characteristics, types, and what made them truly special to the average American homeowner.

History of the Ranch House Style

As mentioned in the introductory section of this article, the Ranch house or Rambler made its first appearance in America in the early 1920 but became a popular sight after the World War II. In terms of its history, the Ranch house style can be traced back to the North America Spanish Colonial architecture.

But just like typical ranches, the early ranchers or ramblers as it was referred to back then featured a single story with low rooflines and wide eaves. For most early ranch house owners, the decision to build a single story was due to the Southwestern hot climate. By 1920, a definite ranch house style came into existence.

However, the widespread acceptance and popularity of the ranch house style started after the conclusion of the World War II by returning soldiers who were after a building style that was easy to construct and customize. By the end of 1950, the craze for the ranch architectural style reached its peak. In fact, by 1950, the ranch style accounted for about 9 out of 10 home designs in the US. By 1970, there were several variations of the ranch house style with some featuring two-story design and the use of several other type of materials and floor plan designs.

Types of Ranch Houses

Due to the popularity of the ranch style, the year 1970 gave rise to several types of the ranch style home. Below are some of the popular types of ranch homes.

California Ranch

The California ranch style was designed by popular San Diego based Architect Cliff May for his personal use. One of the unique characteristics of the California ranch style was its sprawling nature meant to blend with the California landscape. Influenced by the rise of the Arts and Craft movement, the California ranch house typically features a U or L shape with a dedicated courtyard in the middle.

Suburban Ranch

The Suburban ranch style houses were the version of the ranch style that became popular during the post-World War II. They were typically small in size and more of a simplified version of the California ranch house style. Suburban ranch house foundations were typically made of concrete slabs and tract material. However, they still featured the open floor plan just like other ranch house style.

Split Level Ranch

The split level ranch house style is more of a traditional Suburban ranch house. Most Split level ranch houses feature three levels of living with two half staircase on each side of the homes leading to the bedroom and other living areas of the house.

Raised Ranch

Closely related to the split-level ranch house style, the raised ranch houses style is also referred to split-entry houses. This is due to the ability for homeowners to either walk into their home living spaces walking up or downstairs. In most raised ranch houses, spaces like garage are situated directly below the main living and bedroom areas.

Storybook Ranch

Just like the name implies, the storybook ranch house style tells a unique story with its exterior and interior design. Unlike the typical simple exterior of ranch houses across the country, the storybook ranch features exposed rafters with diamond-shaped window and lovely ornamental finishing.

Noticeable Features of the Ranch House Style

Like any other architectural style, ranch houses feature certain characteristics that are only peculiar to it. While there may differences across ranch styles, there are certain features that are common to ranch houses.

For the Exterior Areas

  • Long, low-pitch roofline
  • A mix of natural materials on the exterior. It is common to find the use of stucco, wood, brick or stone on its exterior.
  • Cross-gabled, side-gabled or hip roof
  • Deep, overhanging eaves
  • Large windows
  • Sliding glass doors
  • Attached garages
  • Back patio

For the Interior Areas

  • Single-story living
  • Open concept living area, dining room and kitchen
  • Separated bedrooms (usually three)
  • Full basement
  • Simple adornments and architectural details

Like most popular architectural designs, the ranch house plan has evolved to accommodate the changes in the architectural industry and individual taste. So, it is common for homeowners to combine the features of a ranch style house with the features of other popular house styles like the craftsman and modern designs.

Is the Ranch Style House Right for You?

You may be wondering what else makes the ranch house style special and desired across generations. Here are some of the reasons why people all over the country love the ranch house style.

Ease of Navigation

Since most ranch house does not have a second floor, navigating through it is easy and doesn’t put you and your family member at the risk of a stair accident. For this specific reason, ranch house plan is a great choice for elderly individuals or people with mobility issues.

Easier to Clean and Maintain

With just a single floor and a low-pitched roofline, the exterior of ranch houses are quite easy to clean and maintain. Cleaning the gutters, windows, and painting of your ranch home is less likely to require the need for a ladder. And since most ranch houses do not feature stairs, cleaning your home with a vacuum cleaner is less stressful.

Open and Inviting Floor Plan

Even though the idea of open floor plans became a popular idea in recent times, ranch houses at 1920 featured what is now referred to as open floor plans. An open floorplan makes it easier to have your entire living area, kitchen, and dining room in one space. You can easily transition from one room to the other easily. More importantly, it allows for easily inflow of natural light to all parts of the house.

How Much Does Cottage House Style Cost?

On average a Ranch house plan can cost around $500 to $3,000. However, custom plans and blueprints may cost around 5-10 percent of the total home building cost. The average cost to build a ranch house style in the US is around $200,000 to over $400,000 depending on your home location and square footage.

Find the Perfect Ranch Floor Plan Today

The first step to constructing a Ranch house is to get a comprehensive architectural drawing set. This gives you an insight into the type of materials to be used, accurate dimensions of the floor plans, location of the elements, sections, and other construction-related information.

If you are looking for a comprehensive yet affordable Ranch house blueprint or a customizable floor plan, then we at Archimple is here to serve you. We have several Ranch house design collections and floor plans. You can check out our ranch home design collection to find out how we can help you achieve your dream home

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Last Updated: Dec 30, 2020

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