Ranch House Love: Inspiration From 13 Ranch Renovations

Nine out of 10 new homes built in the USA in 1950 were ranch houses. By 1970 the number of new homes that were ranches had dropped to four out of five, and the number continued to decrease, says Witold Rybczynski in Last Harvest: How a Cornfield Became New Daleville. As American riches increased and mortgage down payment requirements and interest levels dropped from the mid-1980s, the thirst for more square footage and traditional adornments followed. Ranch homes fell out of favor, replaced with more conventional bigger two-story homes.

Today there’s much revived interest in these low-slung, iconic 20th-century homes. They are readily available, for starters, often at sensible rates. For another, many men and women are realizing that one-floor living is a fantastic approach to age in place without much renovating (or a elevator) required.

Midcentury modern ranches from designers such as Cliff May and Joseph Eichler are highly sought after, while designers are also viewing the charms of contemporary colonial ranches and the potential for hot open floor plans from the smaller, more closed-in ranches.

If you’re searching for ideas for your own ranch home, have a look at the assortment of ranch house tours on . I just did, and I have chosen a few ranch renovation jobs offering useful lessons for diving into your own.

Design Platform

1. Inherited ’60s ranch home in Denver. Seeking to sell the closed-in home, the owners paid particular attention to opening up the kitchen and renovating it.

Tip: They saved money by using Ikea cabinets, subsequently enriched them by incorporating custom hardware and wrap the sides in white pine for contrast.

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Shaw Coates

2. Spanish-style ’60s ranch in Rancho Santa Fe, California. The homeowners, expecting their first child, appreciated the home’s great bones, including the high ceilings and open design, in addition to having a master bedroom and bedroom to precisely the same floor.

Tip: If a window appears out of scale with the room, go big with all the window treatment. Note how in which the rod and curtains frame the alcove and stand up to the huge scale of the room.

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Tara Bussema – Neat Organization and Design

Tara Bussema – Neat Organization and Design

3. Less is more in a Long Beach, California, Cliff May home. The homeowners were inspired by the simpler lifestyles of the 1950s.

Tip: Even in the event that you don’t emulate the exact furniture and finishes of the age, look to the philosophies that your home’s era inspired. In this case the owners like to live by”Less is more” and to concentrate on community and family instead of their possessions.

If you have a small ranch kitchen with low ceilings, use translucent or transparent glass on the top cabinets for a lighter, more open appearance.

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The Cavender Diary

4. Clever solutions in a ’70s Dallas ranch. This creative couple remedied the plain-old-box-feeling malady one area at a time.

Tip: Bring things out of the closet. The owners turned into a wall into outerwear storage that looks like an art installation. (Do not feel bad if your initial attempt at this doesn’t look this good; among those homeowners would be a creative manager at Ralph Lauren.)

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Susan Jay Design

5. Los Angeles canyon setting. A narrow canyon road leads to this homein the Brentwood neighborhood of Los Angeles. The homeowners are not allowed to add to its footprint, because fire vehicles have to fit down the road. The surrounding territory was so beautiful that they didn’t care, and they made the most of the home’s square footage.

Tip: Expand in the garage. Many ranches from this age have roomy garages just begging to be completed as family rooms, an extra bedroom or a home office. What is more, replacing an old garage door with a glass garage door, French doors or sliding doors would create easy access to a distinctive courtyard or patio.

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Tara Bussema – Neat Organization and Design

6. Enviable outdoor rooms in Southern California. The mild weather in Costa Mesa, California, inspired beautiful new areas in this’60s ranch yard.

Tip: Recall that rooms may often be enlarged beyond your home’s footprint. A fountain-side outdoor dining area and living area will be this family’s favorite rooms.

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Amy A. Alper, Architect

7. Expanded 1940s Sonoma ranch. If narrow roads and other city codes are not an issue, ranches are great candidates for additions. This couple chose to reconfigure and renovate their California Wine Country ranch to better match their lifestyle, extending the footprint from 1,900 square feet to 2,500 square feet.

Tip: Think about a plan for your outdoor living area when planning an improvement. In this case the architect added a master bedroom wing off the ideal side of the home, creating a courtyard feeling that enhanced the beautiful backyard. She borrowed space off the back of the existing garage to form an office and cabana space (far right).

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Susan Teare, Professional Photographer

8. New face for a’70s split degree. The wood siding with this ranch home in Burlington, Vermont, had not held up well against the weather and looked dated (check out the before shot).

Tip: Give the exterior an energy-efficient makeover. Galvanized steel and fiber-cement siding are all durable, low-maintenance, energy-efficient materials that give this house contemporary style. The tight envelope is about to stand up to Vermont’s harsh winters while complementing the surrounding landscape.

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John Prindle

9. Cool updates to get a musician in Portland, Oregon. This unique house is rocking a corrugated metal siding.

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Clayton&Little Architects

10. A lift to get a small Texas ranch. The tiny rooms in this ranch had low ceilings and felt very closed in.

Tip: Push up the ceiling. While midcentury modern ranches could have high ceilings that are great, lots of the ranches that followed have lower ones. Converse with an architect about busting through the ceiling into the roofline — a higher ceiling makes rooms feel a good deal bigger. See how that works

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Spry Architecture

11. Contemporary search for a Spanish colonial ranch in Phoenix. I have to insist ahead that you check out this entire Tour, since the before and after shots of this transformation left me gasp with delight and disbelief. Proceed, then come right back, OK? See you in some…

Tip: Eliminate a few walls. This architect tore down four walls to create this open dining-living space. It makes the home feel twice as big.

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Smith & Vansant Architects PC

12. Maximizing wall area in Hanover, New Hampshire. Thisranch gets the most of every inch with family Bearing in mind.

Tip: Think thick. “Thick zones” are thick walls that have many functions. These include the wall that includes a bookcase on the left, and the niche in the wall that suits the vertical piano and shelving on the right.

In the kitchen a different thick corner encases the cabinet, eliminating the need for freestanding shelves and making it all more streamlined.

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Valerie McCaskill Dickman

13. Organic overhaul of a ’50s ranch in Dallas. Renovating this drowsy ranch took approximately a year but was well worth the effort. It now has beautiful organic style.

Tip: Invest in a new front door. This is one of the biggest factors in creating curb appeal and creates a fantastic first impression. Translucent glass panes allow in the light while providing solitude, and also the clean, modern lines suit the home’s streamlined style inside and out.

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More: Read the Ranch Homes section

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