While looking for a home can be stressful, it can also be fun and exciting – you get to make so many decisions about what your life will look like in the coming years! One of the most exciting things about picking out a new house is picking the style, and these days – according to the Pennsylvania Association of Realtors – a lot of PA residents are looking to move into Ranches or Ranch Style homes.
Now, the phrase “Ranch Home” might conjure up a very specific image in your head, but it actually comprises a wide variety of home designs that you could theoretically choose from. In this blog post, I’d like to take a look at what a Ranch Home is, what the advantages are to owning one, and what the most common subsets of Ranch Homes look like.
The History of the Ranch Home
The Ranch Style of house as we know it today originated in the southwestern region of North America, and was heavily based on the designs of the Spanish Colonial architecture that came before it. The single-story layout had U-shaped roofs and covered more area on the ground than in the air, in order to keep the arid heat at bay.
The style was popularized in the 1920’s, in a modified fashion that featured low-sloping, near flat roof lines and rambling one-floor designs that took advantage of the wealth of space in the southwest at the time. The number of homes in this style saw a sharp uptick in the post-war period from the 40s to the 70s, in which there was an increased demand for homes that could be build quickly and efficiently.
The style’s popularity began to wane shortly after that period, though it has recently seen a resurgence. The popularity of Ranch-style homes has increased since the late 90s, as their design is friendly to older homebuyers who don’t want to have to navigate stairs, as well as young buyers who enjoy the simplicity and low costs associated with them. New Ranch style homes that are built today are usually modified from the classic layout in some way, and often feature multiple stories and more modern designs – though they do tend to share the same stylistic detailing and open-concept floor plans as their predecessors.
Different Subsets of Ranch-Style Homes
The original Ranch home has had a lot of branching evolutions since its conception, and many of them don’t fit the stereotypical image that one might conjure up when the word “Ranch” is mentioned. Here are a few of the more popular styles – including some you may not have realized were related to this uniquely American architectural design.
This is probably the most stereotypical type of home people picture when the word “Ranch” is uttered. It was designed to blend in with the California landscape, and is usually laid out in an L or U-shape with a courtyard in the middle. These homes are typically more modern looking than other ranch-style houses, and tend to cover a lot of land. They may also be called “Ramblers” or “California Ramblers.”
The Suburban Ranch is the direct stylistic descendant of the California Ranch – it’s laid out in mostly the same way, but these homes are typically a bit smaller and cheaper to make, and sometimes don’t feature the same dynamic, multi-directional design that allows for a courtyard. These homes are usually built in a straight line, and they were the ones that were most popular in the post-war housing boom.
The Raised Ranch home is kind of like a mullet – business in the front, party in the back.
These homes look the same as their typical, Suburban Ranch counterparts, but they’re usually built into the side of a hill, and feature a finished basement that leads out into a backyard. So they’re one story in the front, but two stories in the back of the house. This style of home is pretty common in our area, and sometimes evolve to have another story on top, so that they become three-story homes.
You probably didn’t realize that the Split-Level style house is a direct descendant of the Ranch style, but it is. These homes feature what are essentially three stories, but laid out in a diagonal pattern: There will be a basement or garage directly below an upper story, and off to the side, split between the two levels, is the usual living and kitchen area. These kinds of homes – also very common in our area – are great for those who don’t necessarily want a single story house, but also don’t want to have to deal with long sets of stairs. They also make great starter homes, as they are usually not too expensive.
There are plenty of other variations on the Ranch Style house, many featuring more dynamic, modern designs, varied roof lines, and even bonus second or third floors in some places. What’s great about the Ranch Style home is that even within the category, there are a lot of different designs and layouts to choose from, and some of them are extraordinarily unique. But they’re all great for minimizing heat and sunlight exposure, and for those who don’t want to deal with stairs but still want plenty of space.
If you’re looking to get into a Ranch Style (or any style!) home, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me to get your search going – I know the market and the area very well, and I will do my absolute best to help you find exactly what you’re looking for.