Consumer E-Newsletter - 12/12/2006 (Plain Text Version)
In this issue:
The Ranch House: American Pop Culture Icon
In the mid-1930s, San Diego architect and builder Cliff May fused Hispanic Rancheria-style architecture with American modernism to create a this new style of house. The original ranch style created a warm feeling and made use of natural light, making the style very popular, initially in areas like Southern California.
“The ranch was a California phenomenon at first,” said Jim Brown, publisher of Atomic-Ranch Magazine, a quarterly magazine for mid-century architecture and ranch fans.
The home style quickly spread across the country to become the dominant home style from post-World War II until the mid-1980s.
Denver, San Jose, and Houston all have large concentrations of ranch homes, however, Brown notes that the ranch is a “suburban phenomenon” and most cities’ inner suburbs have them.
According to Brown, the ranch style is very attractive because it “celebrates the family” and its open floor plan “brings people together.” Family and togetherness were certainly wishes of GIs returning from the war.
Many ranch-style homes feature lofty ceilings and airy hallways to create an open living space. These homes also featured walls of windows designed to bring the outside in, perfect for homeowners in sunny Southern California. Attached garages, long, low rooflines and back yards were standard on the original Ranch. Brown notes that with the ranch home, Americans moved from “the front stoop to the back yard.”
As the style became more popular and spread nationwide, builders began making various changes that decreased cost. The number of windows was cut down as was the height of the ceilings. Kitchens also shrunk. However, the general floor plan and style remained the same and the house remained as recognizable as ever.
Most sales of ranch homes today are to younger, first-time home buyers. The ranch is a great choice for this crowd as there is a huge stock of available ranches.
“Younger people are making them new,” Brown says. People are remodeling ranch-style homes, and common updates include turning carports into garages, garages into home offices, and adding bedrooms. However, Brown notes that it is important to keep the home’s history in mind.
“Update your home carefully,” Brown warns. “Staying with the original builder’s intent makes for the most successful remodeling job.”
Brown also believes that the ranch style will once again become hot. He points to the bungalow craze and notes that the ranch should be next to go through a revival.
“When people realize they can fix up and furnish their dream ranch with new top quality items, this ranch revival will be as big, if not bigger, than the interest shown to Victorians and bungalows,” Brown says.
The ranch house is a true American icon and one of the most recognizable home styles on the market today. With its classic charm and functionality, the ranch is accommodating for the many types of families that make American culture so unique.
If the ranch-style home intrigues you, you’re not alone. Contact your local home builders association and find out where the ranches are in your neck of the woods.
For more information or to contact us directly, please visit www.NAHB.org | ©2003, National Association of Home Builders