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What is a Ranch-Style House? Learn All About the Modern Ranch Home

A white ranch style home with a small front porch.

Ranch-style houses are a uniquely American architectural style that emerged in the 1930s and 1940s, particularly in the western United States. These homes are characterized by their single-story design, low-pitched roofs, open floor plans, and simple construction.

The design of Ranch homes was influenced by Spanish Colonial architecture, as well as the practical needs of the time. It was a response to the growing demand for affordable, easy-to-build homes for the expanding middle class following World War II.

A white ranch-style house with a wraparound porch, and a two-car garage.

What is a Ranch-style house and what makes it “Ranch” style?

Onto the key question: exactly what is a Ranch-style house? There are key features that differentiate a Ranch-style house from other similar architectural styles, and they include the following:

  • Single-story building. Ranch homes typically have one level, making them ideal for families with young children or elderly family members.
  • Low-pitched roof. These homes usually have low-pitched roofs with wide eaves that extend over the exterior walls, providing shade and protection from the elements.
  • Simple construction. Ranch homes are generally built using simple construction techniques, often featuring a rectangular or L-shaped design.
  • Attached garage. Many Ranch-style homes have an attached garage, making it convenient for homeowners to access their vehicles and storage areas.

A white ranch-style house with a small front porch, and a driveway.

Why is a Ranch house called a Ranch?

If the architectural style is popular in every region of the U.S., how did it end up with the name “Ranch” to begin with? The Ranch-style house design was inspired by the working Ranch homes found on these large tracts of land in the western United States. The term originates from the Spanish word “rancho,” which referred to a tract of land used for raising livestock.

These homes were built with practicality and efficiency in mind, providing comfortable living quarters for ranch workers and their families. The Ranch-style house eventually became synonymous with the suburban, single-family home as it was adopted by homebuilders across the country during the post-World War II housing boom.

Why are Ranch homes so popular?

Ranch homes have remained popular for several reasons, including accessibility, versatility, and timeless appeal. The single-story design of Ranch homes makes them suitable for people with mobility issues or those who prefer living on one level. The open floor plan of a Ranch-style home allows for easy customization and personalization, enabling homeowners to create a space that meets their unique needs. Lastly, the simple, clean lines of ranch homes have a timeless quality that continues to appeal to homeowners seeking a classic, understated aesthetic.

What is the average size of a Ranch home?

The size of a Ranch home can vary widely, depending on factors such as location, age, and builder preferences. However, the average Ranch-style home in the United States typically ranges from 1,200 to 1,500 square feet, which is smaller than the average size home in the United States (about 2,200 square feet).

Are Ranch homes more valuable?

The value of a Ranch home depends on a variety of factors, including location, size, age, and overall condition. There are some aspects of Ranch-style homes that can make them more valuable to certain homebuyers and builders:

  • Easy accessibility. Because they are single-story and often designed with wider doorways and hallways, Ranch homes can be more appealing to buyers with mobility issues or those looking to age in place.
  • High demand. Ranch homes have remained popular over the years, which can contribute to their value in the housing market.
  • Ease of renovation. The simple construction and open floor plan of a Ranch home makes it easier to remodel and update compared to more complex architectural styles.

However, keep in mind that building a Ranch-style house can end up being more expensive than other styles of homes because they require larger foundations and more expansive roofs. As a result, might require more materials and labor, potentially increasing their construction costs by approximately 10% or more, depending on the specific design and location.

A gray modern ranch-style house with wood trim and a large, wraparound porch.

What is Modern Ranch style?

The Modern Ranch-style house is an updated take on the classic Ranch home, incorporating contemporary design elements and materials while maintaining the core principles of the Ranch aesthetic. Some aesthetics of Modern Ranch homes include:

  • Clean lines. Modern Ranch homes often feature a minimalist design with clean, straight lines and an emphasis on simplicity.
  • Natural materials. Modern Ranch homes often incorporate natural materials such as wood, stone, and metal, creating a warm and inviting atmosphere.
  • Indoor-outdoor living. Many Modern Ranch-style houses blur the lines between indoor and outdoor spaces with large sliding glass doors, wraparound porches, and outdoor living areas that extend the home’s living space.

What is the difference between a Ranch and a Rambler-style house?

The terms “Ranch” and “Rambler” are often used interchangeably to describe single-story, mid-century homes with low-pitched roofs and open floor plans. However, there are some regional differences in how these terms are used.

In some parts of the United States, “Rambler” is more commonly used, while “Ranch” is more prevalent in other areas. Despite these regional variations, there is generally no significant difference between a Ranch and a Rambler-style home.

What’s the difference between a Bungalow and a Ranch?

While both Bungalows and Ranch-style homes are single-story residences, there are a couple of key differences between the two. Bungalows, which originated in the early 20th century, are often associated with the Arts and Crafts movement and typically feature a more decorative, cottage-like appearance. This includes overhanging eaves, a front porch, and exposed rafters. In contrast, Ranch homes are characterized by their clean lines and minimalist design.

Additionally, Bungalows are generally smaller than Ranch homes, often featuring a more compact layout with fewer rooms and smaller living spaces. Another distinction between the two styles is the roof pitch; Bungalows typically have a steeper roof pitch compared to the low-pitched roofs of Ranch homes.

What is the difference between a Patio home and a Ranch home?

A Patio home is a category of single-story house that is often part of a planned community or development. These homes are typically smaller than Ranch homes and are designed to maximize outdoor living space with a private patio or courtyard.

Patio homes often share one or more walls with neighboring units and may have a smaller lot size compared to standalone ranch homes. In contrast, Ranch homes are typically single-family residences with their own yard and more square footage. While both types of homes emphasize single-story living and accessibility, the main differences lie in the lot size, shared walls, and focus on outdoor living spaces.

Ranch-style homes have a long history in American architecture, offering a unique blend of simplicity, affordability, and accessibility. With their single-story design, open floor plans, and timeless appeal, these homes continue to be a popular choice for homeowners across the United States. Modern Ranch homes build upon these classic features, incorporating contemporary design elements and materials to create updated, stylish living spaces.

While Ranch homes share some similarities with other single-story residences, such as Ramblers, Bungalows, and Patio homes, each architectural style has its own unique characteristics and charm. Whether you’re looking to buy, renovate, or build a Ranch-style home, understanding the nuances of this classic American architectural style can help you create a comfortable, inviting space that meets your needs and reflects your personal style.

If you’re ready to start browsing Ranch-style floor plans for your future build, click here

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