Low-slung and open, ranch homes are uniquely American. This style of home dates back to the 1930s and reflects the more relaxed Western lifestyle. Ranch-style architecture didn’t become popular, however, until after World War II.
The rise of the rambling ranch is directly linked to the rise of car culture. With automobiles, families could live on larger lots of land outside of the traditional population centers (the cities). As people built spread-out ranch homes, they also gave birth to the suburbs. This is why ranch-style architecture is often to synonymous with the American suburb: they dominated in the 1950s and 1960s.
Characteristically, ranch-style houses can be low-profile and earth-hugging (much like American Craftsman bungalows) or more modern with wrapped corner windows. While they can often be viewed as simple, ranch-style homes represent 20th-century architecture and can be eclectic and incorporate various stylistic and architectural elements.
Typically, these homes are a single story (often rambling) with hipped or gabled roofs. Ranch shapes range from an unadorned box to various L- or U-shaped configurations. Rather than cubic, this style is more long and horizontal with an asymmetrical facade. From beginning in the 50s and 60s, ranch homes also included attached garages, sliding glass doors, and huge picture windows.
In the interior, ranch-style homes are open and airy. Typically, living and dining areas blend into one another and the kitchen is often adjacent to the family room. Sliding glass doors seamlessly open to the outdoors, where you will also often find a back deck or patio. For these reasons, Ranch-style house plans are very well-suited for casual entertaining and living.
This was also really the first widely-accepted style to incorporate the outdoors as part of the home itself. Whereas earlier home styles such as the Victorian separated the more formal and family parts of the home, the ranch eliminated those barriers.
Ranch-style architecture fell out of favor in the 1980s and 1990s. However, they are making a comeback, particularly as custom-built homes. The wide, open floorplans are attractive to many buyers who don’t like the closed in look and feel of other architectural styles.
Ranch homes still remain quite synonymous with the suburbs and are often still seen as family-oriented with their kid-friendly backyards.
Sarah is a content writer and social media assistant with a BA in literature/creative writing from Wilkes University. When she’s not spending her days at work writing, reading, and drinking coffee, she’s usually at home reading, writing, and drinking coffee. She also devotes a fair amount of time to HGTV, drawing, and doting on her dog. As a creator, Sarah believes in emphasizing personality through design and DIY projects.