We currently live in a wonderful ranch style home design. It is an older home and we have done a little remodeling over the years, but it is still exactly what we want and need in a home. As we grow older it is great that things are all one level. This got me thinking – when did ranch homes become popular? The old movies don’t show many ranch homes but instead two-story homes with porches and balconies or split-levels with drive-under garages. I have the time now that I am retired so I decided to do a little digging and here is what I found out.
Ranch style homes are considered one of the most famous architectural styles. They made their debut in the early 1930’s and increased in popularity during the post-World War II period. Cliff May is considered the Father of the California Ranch House Design. He was a builder and promoter that lived in the Southern California climate and wanted to design and build homes that would erase the lines between indoors and outdoors. It didn’t take long for the style to grow in the American middle class and then quickly get exported to other nations.
Many of the original ranch home plans have similar design features that are considered key elements. Some may have all of them or only a few. They are basically single story home plans that are long and narrow and have a low roofline. They feature large overhanging eaves and cross-gabled, side-gabled or hip roofs and minimal use of exterior and interior decoration. The footprint is symmetrical rectangular, L-shaped, or U-shaped design with an attached garage, a simple, open floor plan with living areas in the front of the home. Sliding glass doors usually open onto a patio or deck and there are numerous large windows that bring the outdoors in. The exteriors are stucco, brick or wood and have simple trim and shutters. This is basically our home in a nutshell. It is rectangular and has a beautiful brick exterior.
Since many of the original ranch home plans are over 50 years old, there is a lot of information available on how to update them. This is especially true since the large push in the green building movement. Economically it makes a lot of sense to use a home that is already built and modernize it to fit the needs of today’s family.
Some advantages of ranch homes are that they are universal, adaptable, energy efficient and the floor plans lend themselves to a variety of addition or remodeling possibilities.
Universal Design – Since ranch homes are one level they are a universal design style that offers accessible living for people of all ages. Universal design is a feature that helps people of any age, but especially older homeowners, more fully and safely enjoy their homes. Whether the homeowners are parents of young children, active baby-boomers, or less mobile seniors, universal design adds to the enjoyment of living spaces by maximizing comfort and accessibility.
Adaptability – With the busy lifestyle of families today it is important that while everyone is home that they can all be in one central living space, not separate compartmentalized rooms. The new floor plans feature these open areas but the older ranch homes do not. Luckily the older ones are very adaptable and with removing a few interior walls and adding some additional square footage they can be brought up to date and fulfill all the needs that today’s homeowners are requesting.
Energy Efficiency – We hear that term with everything we buy from freezers to water heaters. This is also a very important feature when it comes to home building. An energy-efficient home will save you thousands of dollars in heating and cooling costs. The ranch style homes of the past were built with saving money in mind with their low profile roof and fewer cubic feet. As the home ages there may be a need to add additional insulation and update windows and doors but the floor plan is perfect.
Additional Space – Property was plentiful in the early 1930’s and homes were built on larger lots. Adding on today is quite easy to do right off the main level. If the home was built on a basement there is also the option to finishing it off to create additional living space. Another option is to build up – add on a second floor or loft area. The possibilities are endless when it comes time to add on and spruce up. The simplistic shape makes renovation a breeze.
It is important to create the home of your dreams that fits your family’s lifestyle. Take the time to list what your needs are. Take the timeless advice of the “Father of the California Ranch House, Cliff May” and make decisions based on clearly thought out needs.
- What characteristics of your home do you love? These things you do not want to change or would like to accentuate.
- What are some current needs in your home? Do you need more space?
- Determine a realistic budget for yourself.
- How long are you willing to spend on your renovations?
- Be sure to consult with a contractor, architect or other building expert before making major changes.
Also double check that you do not need permits or licenses beforehand.
Whether you decide to build a new ranch home or bring the one you currently own up-to-date like I did – one thing to remember is that the architectural style is America’s favorite. It is energy efficient, cost-effective there are many elements that you can add to make your ranch home stand out from the rest!Pin It