Ranch Style House Ideas: Types, Pros & Cons

Popular American Ranch Style House Ideas

Classic Ranch Style Houses have the old-school, mid-century vibe. Their updated contemporaries of the 21st century have a curb appeal attracting attention from home buyers looking for a more naturistic or minimalistic lifestyle. Embodying both modernist ideas and the casual spirit of West Coast living, their inherent simplicity makes their architectural style quite popular in America.

What Is A Ranch Style House?

Commonly built with a wide open-layout concept, single-story floor plan, close-to-the-ground profile, and large windows. A traditional ranch-style house emphasizes the delicate balance between formal and casual living. No matter the size of the plot, Ranch home designs often include a garage and finished basement space. Whether located in the city, suburbs, or coastal towns, you’re likely to come across several ranch houses with little connection to true cattle ranches. Also nicknamed ‘ramblers,’ ranches were once the home every middle-class American desired to live in. The name is a nod to the similar floor plan that blends the inside with the outside. While Ranch style houses can differ in sizes, shapes, and styles, most of them are L or U shaped with sliding glass doors that open onto the porch. They have low-pitched roofs with wide eaves extended beyond the exterior walls. Natural construction materials like stone, brick, and glass are common among these houses that truly evoke the essence of rural areas. This genre of the house exudes class and coziness thatone can easily recreate itted in any part of the country by employing elements of raw wood, textural fabrics, partial walls, planters, and decorative brickwork. Many also feature back patios to extend the living space outdoors. Most ranch homes have a single-story floor plan with easy flow between the rooms. Thus, one can conveniently access all parts of the house from the main living area. Modern ranch-style houses combine open layouts and easy indoor-outdoor living. Single story, stair-free living, clean, minimalist aesthetic, unique bright designs, vaulted ceilings, board-and-batten, stucco, shingles, built-in storage and spacious closets that meet the lifestyle needs of present times. Hence, even today, beautiful ranch-style homes are excellent choices for families of any size.

How Did Ranch Style Houses Come Into Existence?

With most new home construction in recent years favoring more neo-eclectic styles, these cost-effective ranch-style houses have evolved to become an object of historical interest. Ranch-style properties emerged in the mid-20th century as architects like Joseph Richler and Cliff May experimented with the open spaces of emerging suburbs. Dating back to 1930s California, which was home to several architectural movements, Ranch style homes gained prominence as a nationwide staple by the 1950s and 60s. This distinctly American style found inspiration in the low, casual homes on cattle ranches of the Old West and Spanish Colonial principles of single stories, which keep the indoors cool. Ranch-style homes first became popular on the West Coast before After World War II. The most traditional ranch style hoome took off due to their large sizes and ease of customization.

Undeniably, they became a favorite for large families and their returning soldiers. With slight modifications, the homeowners could easily add or make modifications to these ranch homes. Although ranch-style properties lost their appeal by the close of the 20th century, their functional design with simple roof lines and a relaxed feel has a renewed interest, especially for indoor-outdoor living. In fact, according to a recent study by Trulia, they’re the most popular types of residences in 34 states.

Pros of Ranch Style House

1. Outdoor Entertainment

As one can access the backyard easily from the kitchen, Ranch houses can be the best option for people who prefer to explore the wilderness or outdoor entertainment in the lap of nature. Whether you want to go horseback riding, watch birds, pet farm animals, do overnight camping, sing around a bonfire or cook barbeque in the weekend party, there’s plenty of ways to have fun in and around the ranch house.

2. Easy Escape during Emergency

In times of unexpected emergencies, such as fire hazards or burglary, the single-story design of the ranch home allows easy escape through the window as the house is built very low to the ground.

3. Outdoor Space for Garden

Ranch houses have ample outdoor space for those who love gardening. The flowerpots and plants at your doorstep can provide shade, privacy and enhance the beauty of your house. Moreover, you can enjoy homegrown vegetables and freshly picked fruits from your home garden. Most homeowners want tall trees for shade, privacy, and an aesthetic appeal.

4. Bright Interiors

A large ranch house with plenty of natural light and free airflow uplifts your spirits. Their huge windows and sliding glass patio doors make it possible to integrate the interiors with the bright natural exteriors. It’s also easy to add skylights, extra windows, and even a sunroom to a single-story home.

5. Easy Maintenance

In the absence of a second floor, there is no hassle of cleaning additional rooms or painting the upper part of the house. Having a low-pitched roofline, it’s possible to reach all home areas with a regular ladder for an average homeowner.

6. Safe For Children And Older Members

With only one level, families with young children need not worry about any unwanted accident of them getting hurt by falling off stairs. You can also watch your children by setting boundaries within the open play area front or back of the house. Likewise, it is more convenient for aging seniors who find going up and down the stairs a great challenge and prefer single-level living.

Cons of Ranch Style House

1. Less privacy

Since all the rooms are at ground level, you cannot stop the prying eyes of passers-by once the curtains are gathered aside. This isn’t the case with two-story houses as the bedrooms are located on the upper floors.

2. Only Horizontal Construction, not vertical

As ranch homes are only at one level, you can extend it with a horizontal construction. You need to buy more land if you want to add more square footage to your property. While, otherwise you can build additional upper floors to your house rather than the sides.

3. Limited Backyard Space

Ranch-style homes have have large interior space requirements and smaller yards that may not cater to the needs of growing families.

Types of Ranch Style Houses

1. California Ranch

California ranches draw inspiration from the decorative, subtle, or flashy exteriors of Spanish architecture. Originally designed by the Californian architect Cliff May and built in 1932, its design is similar to the bungalow-style homes with a casual and informal interior layout. It features one story of either L or U shape, a low ground-level structure, and a patio integrated with nature. The yard is always located at the center of the property.


2. Suburban Ranch

Suburban Ranch became popular post-World War II when there was a housing shortage, and the suburbia was invented. These homes are essentially the smallest, simplified versions of the California originals since their minimalistic exteriors were easy to recreate. They feature tract material, an open concept floorplan, and a connection with the outdoors. They were usually built with a minimalist exterior, concrete slab foundations, and an open-concept interior.


3. Raised Ranch

Sometimes called split-entry houses, these houses have entryways with stairs leading upstairs and downstairs. The lower level usually features utilitarian spaces like garages and a finished basement often directly beneath the kitchen, bedrooms, and main living area. Similar to the split-level ranch, these may also be called split-entry ranches that always have two floors.


4. Fairy-tale Ranch

Also known as Cinderella ranches, these homes have charming detailed exteriors with exposed rafters, decorative chimneys, tall, narrow windows, diamond-shaped window panes, and ornamental trim. Famous in the 1920s and ’30s California, this style replaced the Spanish-influenced designs with heavy baroque embellishments inspired by fairy tales and cozy cottages. Storybook ranch homes might eschew low-pitched roofs for steep, gabled ones covered in thatched shingles or stone or brick exteriors, decorative chimneys, and tall, narrow windows.


5. Split-Level Ranch

These houses feature multiple floors linked by an entryway staircase and three levels of living. Resembling the traditional suburban ranch from the street, these homes have the front door leads into the main living area, dining room, and kitchen. Then, a half-staircase leads up to the bedrooms and another half-staircase leading downstairs to an additional living space in the basement on one side of the home. They have asymmetrical exteriors, which are extremely simple and designed for function over form.


6. Brick Ranch Home

As brick is durable, fireproof, and requires low maintenance, it is preferred for the exterior finish of brick ranch-style houses. While current ranch home builders often save money by installing brick only on street-facing walls, traditional ranch-style homes have full brick exteriors. One can paint brick walls to beautify the exterior of a white ranch-style house for a textured look.


7. Craftsman Ranch

The original ranch-style house included decorative brackets, exposed rafters, handcrafted woodwork, and stonework from the Arts and Crafts Movement to lend it a Craftsman feel. These ranch homes combine Craftsman-inspired details with the casual, open ranch floor plan.


8. Farmhouse Ranch

Whether in its traditional or modern representation, the farmhouse-inspired ranch-style pole barn homes represent a farmhouse décor. Common exterior finishes include horizontal or vertical wood siding, brick, or a combination of these. A wide, wrap-around porch brings the farmhouse touch to a classic ranch house plan. Interior walls may wear exposed or painted shiplap or paneling. Wood beadboard is another great choice for farmhouse ranch interior walls. An old brick farmhouse ranch can be painted or lime-washed to refresh and enhance its curb appeal.


With the constant roar of traffic and nonstop activities of city-life, some people might want to enjoy a peaceful life in the countryside, closer to nature, and live in a ranch-style home. Ranch style houses are therefore enjoying something of a renaissance as homeowners come to appreciate the benefits of single-story living. However, ranch houses can be expensive due to their total square foot spread over a large area, which might increase construction material cost. For some, the increasing desire to own a ranch brimming with nostalgia makes a ranch-style home a great investment. So, consider a single-story design with all the modern amenities that will make your property more valuable in the future.

Also Read:

Beautiful Cottage Style Home Ideas
Nature Inspired Home Interior Decor Ideas
Amazing Spring Decoration Ideas for Your Home

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Ruchelle has a vast experience working with clients in hospitality, health and wellness, entertainment, real estate, and retail. She aims to utilise her learnings to deliver quality content which will in turn help drive sales and customer engagement.