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Ranch Living - Past, Present & Future

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Brittany Cleeve  by Brittany Cleeve

The year 1932 marked the building of the first ranch style home by an architect named Cliff May. He built these homes with natural materials and wanted to be sure that they were easy to clean. This simple, affordable and easily attainable style began sprouting up all over the country after the end of World War II and the baby boom began. There was a great need for more homes across the country and the ranch home style had everything a family could want.

stylish ranch house design

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This new style of home referred to as a "ranch" was rectangular in shape, one-story, and featured a low-pitched roof, attached garage and large windows for an indoor-outdoor connection. Ranch homes offered an informal lifestyle that Americans were seeking at this time. With central air-conditioning, a floor plan centered around the family room and kitchen, and space for growing families if a basement was constructed, the ranch offered everything a family could want.

Some other common design elements seen in the original ranch style homes were:

  • popcorn ceilings;
  • living areas near the front of the home;
  • paneling;
  • flat, low pitched rooflines;
  • narrow layout;
  • simple floor plans;
  • wrought iron embellishments and;
  • horizontal lines throughout.

Many of the original ranch homes that were constructed are 50 years or older which qualifies them as historic homes, so there’s no doubt updates and remodeling are in order. But, is it possible to take a ranch home of that age and turn it into something that a family would want today? There are countless so-called “historical” ranch homes across the country and many families are still living in them today. But since the building of the ranch home marked the beginning of modern construction materials and methods, it is relatively easy to update these homes to today’s standards including the level of energy efficiency and floor plan styles we desire today. Re-using these homes makes sense for the economy because a home that’s already built is the greenest type of home for sure.

Regardless of its age, a ranch home still provides a quality living experience whether its decades old and been remodeled or is a newly built home. Its timeless floor plans and features make it just as popular today for all sorts of homeowners.

Here are some of the advantages of ranch living that have created resurgence in the one-story home style of yesteryear and making it the home to build for the future.

stylish interior of a ranch home plan

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Universal style design – A one-level home provides a floor plan that offers accessible living for all ages. Whether you’re a new mother struggling with a baby and all of the baby gear, or an elderly person trying to remain on their own in their home for as long as they can; an open floor plan like ranch homes have is the perfect solution for easy living. As baby boomers age, they are returning to the style they once had years ago when they raised their families because of its ease of livability and movement.

open floor plan of a ranch home design

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Adaptability – Americans crave open spaces now more than ever, and the ranch home of today and its predecessors can provide that open feeling homeowners want. The ranch homes built today have been designed to feel open and airy, and those counterparts from the past are easily adaptable and can be reconfigured fairly easily by removing interior walls and creating usable additional square footage.

This adaptation will turn an older ranch home into the “loft style” that has become so popular today.

energy efficient ranch home plan interior

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Energy Efficiency – As Americans deal with rising energy costs, living in a smaller, more efficient home has become even more important than ever. It is no longer about the quantity, but rather the quality of the space you have.  So, living within fewer cubic feet will keep your energy bills down.

beautiful finished lower level in ranch home design

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Additional Space – Because ranch homes are usually placed on a larger lot, it is feasible to expand your living conditions by adding an addition to the existing floor plan quite easily right off the main level. You also have the ability to finish the basement or perhaps add a second story onto the home when additional square footage is needed. Since most ranch homes are rectangular in shape and use modern construction techniques, it is extremely accommodating when renovations may be needed.

Whether you are building a new ranch home plan or considering remodeling a ranch home from the past, follow our list of important aspects to consider as preparation for your decision. You should also consider the characteristics that Cliff May included in his ranch homes, since these are also seen in newly built ranch styles today.

  • What characteristics of your home do you love? These will probably be things that you do not want to change or would like to accentuate.

  • What are some current needs in your home? Do you need more space?

  • Determine a realistic budget for yourself.

  • Think about how much you can do and how much you are willing to do. How long are you willing to spend on your renovations?

  • Be sure to consult with a contractor, architect or other building expert before making major changes. Also double check that you do not need permits or licenses beforehand.

unfinished room in a home


If you decide to buy an existing ranch home and remodel or build a ranch home design new, you have chosen America’s favorite architectural style. The ranch has once again made a comeback and is providing all the features homeowners want today. From luxurious and elegant to small and cozy, the one-story home is also becoming a favorite with today’s modern architects as well. There are countless varieties of styles and options available for those who want to live in this nostalgic style. And, now Americans are living within their means more than ever, so the ranch home just makes sense.

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