Boomer-friendly and not so big, the common ranch adapts to modern tastes for open plans, outdoor living and midcentury mojo
Since falling from favor in the 1970s, the ranch house has languished on the bottom rung of the architectural food chain. Critics deride its small size, dated finishes and prosaic design. But if you’re able to see past such shortcomings, the ranch (or rambler, as it’s sometimes known) has a lot to offer potential home buyers — particularly those on a budget.
Popularized in the 1950s by architectural designer and developer Cliff May, the ranch celebrated the postwar profusion of cheap land and sprawling suburbs, with a horizontal footprint that turned its back on the streetscape to focus on backyard living.
While May’s original designs showed great finesse, the ranch was copied so often — and so poorly — that eventually the style became associated with cheap tract-house living. Which is a shame, because ranch houses can be an affordable, efficient option that’s compatible with today’s lifestyles and needs. Below you’ll find some of their advantages, along with ideas for working with ranch homes.