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Defining the Design: Ranch Style Architecture

Written by Cindy Marie Jenkins on Friday, June 1st, 2018 at 8:46am.

The Ranch

AKA: American ranch, California ranch, the rambler, the rancher

You know a Ranch style home when you see it: low to the ground, open layout. It feels a little like it belongs post-war and a little like you’re in a western. It looks both secluded, laid back and ready for a party. Its origin can be traced to Spanish colonial architecture in the 17th to 19th century, with the single stories, large porches, and U-shaped floor plans common to the Southwestern United States. The simplicity of the ranch home led to a revival in the late 1990s, primarily as younger buyers saw that they could afford a lovely home in then-neglected neighborhoods like Lakewood in Long Beach, or aging populations wanted an easy to navigate home with few or no stairs that kept them connected to nature.

Features of a Ranch Home

    • L or U-shaped and asymmetrical
    • Typically more wide than deep.
    • Roof is long and pitched low.
    • A sprawling living area separates the Master bedroom from other bedrooms on the opposite side.
    • Sliding glass doors that lead to a patio.
    • Pairs nicely with any number of other styles, including American Craftsman, Mission Revival and the California Bungalow.

Famous Ranch Style Architects

Cliff May. An ex-adobe rancher, Cliff May took his knowledge of natural materials and the prairie style to pioneer the Ranch home as an inexpensive alternative for middle class families, earning himself the name “Father of the Rancho.” His ability to mold the home into its landscape and take advantage of the glass materials now available after the war fed right into the need for recent veterans to enjoy life in their self-defined dream houses. Space, quiet and comfort was everything a WWII vet and their family could want. His designs are still so prevalent that a neighborhood in Lakewood Long Island is called The Cliff May Ranchos.

William Krisel. William Krisel was able to transform Palm Springs through adjustable floor plans, colors and roofs, still at very affordable prices. Krisel believed that if you built the home that appealed to you, it would speak to the right buyer, rather than multiple compromises to please a client’s changing aesthetic through the process. A Ranch style home worked perfectly for touches of personality within a stylish mold.

Fun Facts about the Ranch Style

    • Ranch homes were all the rage on 1960s and 70s TV, especially “The Brady Bunch,” “Golden Girls,” “I Dream of Jeannie” and “Bewitched.”
    • Multimillionaire Harper Lee, author of To Kill a Mockingbird, stayed living simply in a ranch with her sister.
    • There’s a recreation of the Ponderosa from Bonanza as part of a larger theme park. This was built once land developers learned that people actually traveled to its site from the TV show expecting to see it, only to be disappointed.

Ranch Style Homes for Sale

Ready to fall in love with a ranch home of your own? Take a look at Nook's Featured Ranch Listings below, or view all ranch style homes for sale

2107 Leeward Lane, Newport Beach, CA
2107 Leeward Lane Newport Beach

Listed by: Todd Bousman

1604 White Oak Street, Costa Mesa, CA

Listed by: Jacqueline Smith

2241 Canyon Drive, Costa Mesa, CA
2241 Canyon Drive Costa Mesa

Recently Closed by: Sarah Sitar

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