Ranch Style House Landscape IDEAS
My husband and I have been living in our ranch home since the 1970s, and we are finally ready to do some upgrading to make it a little more current. Can you help us with some ideas?
Let’s start with some historical perspective. The informal ranch style evolved from several 20th century styles. The earth-hugging prairie-style houses pioneered by Frank Lloyd Wright and the popular California bungalow styles paved the way for the ranch.
Architect Cliff May is credited with building the first ranch-style home in San Diego in 1932, followed by California real estate developer Joseph Eichler’s mass-produced version that become so popular in the 1950s. After World War II, simple and economical ranch-style homes were mass-produced to meet the housing needs of returning soldiers and their families.
Because so many ranch-style houses were built quickly and with a cookie-cutter formula, the ranch is dismissed by some as simple, ordinary and without style. But there is more than meets the eye to the classic suburban ranch.
Some typical architectural characteristics of the style include:
• Low-pitched gable roof and deep-set eaves.
• Traditional single story (raised ranch and split level have several floors).
• Horizontal, long, narrow and low to the ground.
• Rectangular, L-shaped or U-shaped floor plan.
• Large sliding glass doors leading out to a patio.
• Attached garage and simple floor plan.
• Openness, few interior walls and efficient use of space.
• Natural materials: oak flooring, wood or brick exterior.
• Minimal decorative detailing.
Let’s look at some remodeling ideas to add charm, character and curb appeal to the exterior of your ranch-style home:
• Create a focal point over your entryway with a prominent gable.
• Add color with a fresh coat of paint and accent trim.
• Replace outdated siding with fiber cement board, stucco, stone veneer, brick or a combination of two or three.
• Create a welcoming entry by adding graceful curves to your driveway, walkway and landscape.
• Provide an intimate sheltered entry in an inset porch.
• Replace the front door with a pair of glass doors (9-lite) or stain-grade wood stile and rail design; consider a carriage door design for the garage in stain-grade wood.
• Embellish with arbors over windows and doors.
• Transform your landscape with new patio trees in odd-numbered groupings and colorful, low maintenance plantings.
• Wrap porch support posts with decorative panels; use wood, stone or brick for base.
• Consider flat lightweight concrete tile or Spanish clay tile roofing.
• Replace outdated windows with good quality wood or metal clad wood windows and doors.
Here are some ideas for updating the interior of your ranch-style home:
• Add skylights for more natural light.
• Raise the ceiling from 8 to 10 feet to give the illusion of more space.
• Open up walls for view portals from room to room; use color to emphasize the transition between spaces.
• Omit some hallways next to common spaces by removing the separation wall between them; this will provide “borrowed” light to the now boundary-less hallway and the additional space.
• Choose solid surfaces for countertops in baths and the kitchen, eliminating the maintenance of grout lines in tile.
• Resurface the fireplace hearth and surround it with cast stone, large granite tile or a milled wood mantel for an updated look.
• Consider swapping spaces; if the kitchen is between your family room and a (too small) formal dining room, think about switching the family room and dining room uses while opening the new dining room and kitchen into one room; the old formal dining room is perfect for a cozy TV den.
• Add skylights to baths and halls on the north side of the roof to capture ambient light.
• Relocate the toilet in a separate room or build a privacy wall.
• In narrow bathrooms, consider using a pedestal sink and a freestanding storage cabinet.
This should get you started with some key modifications that can add character, charm and curb appeal to your ranch-style home. Hire an architect to study several different design alternatives before selecting a plan. Be creative, take your time and have fun!