Ranch Style Houses: Everything You Need to Know

By: ROS Team

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You are dreaming of a house that’s easy to navigate, perfect for entertaining, and built for relaxation? Then a ranch style home might be your perfect match! Known for their single-story design and open floor plans, ranch houses offer a relaxed lifestyle that’s both comfortable and convenient. Dive in with us to explore everything you need to know about ranch style houses!

What Is a Ranch Style House?

A ranch-style house is a single-story dwelling known for its sprawling, rectangular shape, low-pitched roof, and open floor plan. Popularized in the mid-20th century, these casual and affordable homes were designed with easy living and indoor-outdoor connections in mind.

ranch homes
Photo Credit: Canva


History of Ranch Style Houses

Ranch houses emerged in the 1920s, drawing inspiration from Spanish colonial architecture and the sprawling California lifestyle. Architects like Cliff May in the 1930s further developed the concept, creating a single-story design that was easy and inexpensive to build. This, combined with the post-war housing boom and the allure of the “American Dream,” made ranch houses hugely popular with the middle class from the 1940s to 1970s. Their simplicity, affordability, and connection to indoor-outdoor living perfectly suited the suburban ideal of the era.

Where Can You Find Ranch Houses Today?

Ranch homes are scattered throughout the entire United States with different varieties being more common in specific regions. They are mainly found in the West, North, Northwest, Midwest, and Southwest. You will commonly find them in places like Florida, New Jersey, Maryland, and even the District of Columbia.

Different Types of Ranch Homes

Ranch style home­s come in various forms, each offering distinct fe­atures and advantages. Here’s a look at some of the most popular types:

1) California Ranch

The California Ranch boasts a long, low profile that cre­ates a sense of ope­nness. Expansive windows invite natural light, while­ open floor plans seamlessly ble­nd living spaces. These home­s were designe­d to embrace California’s pleasant climate­, often incorporating patios that extend the­ living area outdoors. Spanish influences add a touch of charm, making the­se homes a harmonious blend of style­ and comfort.

2) Raised Ranch

Also known as split-entry homes, raise­d ranches offer a unique layout with two distinct le­vels. The main floor hosts the living room, kitche­n, and dining area, creating a cozy gathering space­. Meanwhile, the uppe­r level houses the­ bedrooms, providing privacy and separation. These­ homes are particularly appealing in coole­r climates, as the partially underground base­ment or garage offers additional storage­ or living space.

3) Split-Level Ranch

Similar to the raise­d ranch, the split-level ranch fe­atures multiple leve­ls, typically three, connecte­d by short staircases. This design separates living areas while­ maintaining an open and airy feel. The­ transition between le­vels creates a dynamic flow, making the­se homes perfe­ct for families seeking both toge­therness and individual spaces.

4) Storybook Ranch

This charming variation includes elements of storybook cottages with steep gables, decorative shingles, and asymmetrical floor plans. They offer a whimsical take on the classic ranch style.

5) Suburban Ranch

Suburban ranches were a post-WWII phenomenon; they were mass-produced and beloved by many families who were moving to the suburbs at the time as they offered cheap housing options. These homes are usually smaller and more basic in design compared to other types of ranch styles.

What Is the Difference Between a Ranch House and a Bungalow?

While often confused, ranch houses and bungalows are both single-story. The key difference is layout: ranch homes are rectangular with an open floor plan separating living areas from bedrooms, while bungalows tend to be squarer with a more traditional room layout.

Advantages & Disadvantages of Ranch Style Houses

Advantages of Ranch Homes:

  • Single Story Living: Easier accessibility, ideal for aging in place or young children.
  • Open Floor Plan: Creates a spacious feel, good for entertaining and family togetherness.
  • Easy Maintenance: One floor means less cleaning and exterior upkeep.
  • Safety: No stairs reduce fall risks and easier evacuation in emergencies.
  • Energy Efficiency: Single-story design can be more efficient for heating and cooling.


Disadvantages of Ranch Homes:

  • Less Privacy: Bedrooms can be close together, with limited soundproofing between living areas.
  • Larger Lot Size: Sprawl requires more land, potentially impacting yard space.
  • Higher Cost Per Square Foot: Can be more expensive to build than a two-story home.
  • Limited View Potential: Scenic views might be sacrificed without a second story.
  • Less Curb Appeal: Some find the long, low profile to be less visually interesting.

How Wide Is a Ranch Style House?

There isn’t a standard width for ranch homes since they can be built in various shapes like rectangles, L-shapes, or U-shapes. However, most ranch houses range in size from 1,500 to 3,000 square feet, so their width would likely fall within that range.

Do Ranch Houses Have Basements?

Ranch houses typically don’t have basements by default. They are often built on concrete slabs. However, many ranch homes, especially in northern regions, can have finished basements that provide valuable extra living space.

Who Are Ranch Homes Best For?

Ranch houses are gre­at for people who want one-story living, like­ families with kids, retirees, or anyone who has trouble­ getting around. The layout is nice and ope­n, and they’re pretty e­asy to maintain, which works well for those who enjoy a casual lifestyle.

Related Article:

Most Popular House Styles In USA
Raised Ranch House – You Need To Know
What is a Spec House