Contrary to what the name suggests, you don’t have to own a large tract of land to enjoy this staple in American architecture.
A classic ranch style house is one of the most popular styles of homes in America. In fact, you can find them in virtually every city, town, and village across the nation. Also called a “rambler” in certain regions, a ranch style home is most commonly a modest, single-story dwelling. However, larger and more luxurious ranch style homes are also popular.
This truly American style found inspiration in the low, casual homes on cattle ranches of the Old West. Yet most modern ranch homes lack a western vibe. Many associate midcentury décor with the ranch house plan, but other design styles merge well with a ranch footprint. Its open, casual layout usually has an attached garage or carport, at least one large picture window, and a patio or other outdoor living space.
Despite the inherent simplicity of a ranch home, there are countless variations of this house style. Review our favorite ranch style house ideas to see dozens of takes on the classic ranch. Be sure to save the pics that feel like home to you.
1. Brick Ranch Home
Brick is one of the most common exterior finishes found on ranch style homes. Brick is durable, low-maintenance, and fireproof. While current ranch home builders often cut corners by installing brick only on street-facing walls, traditional ranch style homes have full brick exteriors.
Many a ranch home combines stone cladding with a brick façade. For instance, an entryway or front porch may be stone clad while the remainder of the exterior is brick. Fieldstone or stacked stone in a contrasting color is a popular type of masonry added to jazz up a brick ranch house exterior.
2. California Ranch Home
Self-taught California architect Clifford May pioneered the ranch home architectural style. This relatively open floor plan includes large windows and glass doors, for easy outdoor access and cross ventilation. May’s first ranch home plan was his own residence, and he designed it to blend in with California’s landscape.
A California ranch home is generally a sprawling, U or L shaped home. It centers around a big patio or courtyard, with many rooms opening directly into this outdoor living area. Its style mimics certain aspects of traditional Spanish Colonial architecture. Pale stucco walls, arched doors and windows, and low-pitched, red barrel-tile roofs are all hallmarks of this style.
3. Craftsman Ranch Home Ideas
Original ranch style house design included elements from the Arts and Crafts Movement. In certain areas, many ranch homes have a decidedly Craftsman feel. These ranch homes combine Craftsman-inspired details with the casual, open ranch floor plan. Decorative brackets, exposed rafters, handcrafted woodwork, and stonework are common on a Craftsman-style ranch home.
Many ranch house owners improve their home’s curb appeal by renovating the exterior with Craftsman touches. Replace a simple 1970s concrete front porch with a wider porch held up by thick, tapered columns with stone supports. Take down a basic front door and hang one that includes stained glass or leaded glass panels. Watch this video for tips on replacing your front door:
4. Estate Ranch Home Ideas
An estate ranch home is a good option for someone who has a large tract of land and needs extensive square footage. Sprawling and elegant, ranch style home design provides an impressive exterior even as a single-story dwelling. Although many estate homes are multi-storied, an expansive ranch house plan is ideal for those who desire a big house but can’t navigate stairs easily.
An estate ranch house can incorporate different overall design styles. For instance, keeping the large picture windows and brick exterior of a 1960s-era ranch maintains the mid-century style. Newly built ranch homes often include Craftsman design touches, such as wide, tapered columns and a welcoming front porch. Contemporary or traditional, an estate ranch style house can be as big as you wish.
5. Farmhouse Ranch Home Ideas
Whether in its traditional or modern representation, the farmhouse-inspired ranch home is a welcoming abode. Common exterior finishes include horizontal or vertical wood siding, brick, or a combination of these. A wide, wrap-around porch brings a farmhouse touch to a classic ranch house plan. Cape Cod inspired dormers complete the rustic look.
Farmhouse décor works well inside a ranch style house. Interior walls may wear exposed or painted shiplap or paneling. Wood beadboard is another great choice for farmhouse ranch interior walls. If you purchase an older brick farmhouse ranch, painting or limewashing the brick will refresh the exterior. Learn what’s involved in painting brick when you watch this video:
6. Luxury Ranch Home Ideas
A simple ranch home is the perfect blank canvas to show off luxurious finishes and top-end materials. Custom masonry and brickwork can make your home stand out from the rest. Use copper roofing on a porch or the section of roof over a bay window. Install high-end light fixtures over your entryway and light the path to your front door.
Marble, travertine, and other expensive tiles add luxury to your ranch, inside and out. A wide paver driveway and lush landscaping are important elements of a luxury ranch estate. The Spanish Colonial-style ranch home is popular in Florida, California, Arizona, and other hot climates. These luxurious ranch homes look impressive adorned with oversized cacti or mature palm trees.
7. Modern Ranch Ideas
The ranch style house plan is a subtype of modern architecture. Modern style often accentuates a connection between indoor and outdoor living spaces. This is particularly welcome in temperate climates because each room has access to fresh air and the outdoors. In all climates, large modern ranch home windows let in plenty of sunlight—important for alleviating seasonal depressive disorders.
Most mid-century modern homes are ranch style houses, but more contemporary than the traditional mid-America ranches. They are likely to have a lower profile than other modern homes. A modern ranch style house will use plenty of natural materials, including concrete, metal, stone, and glass. A bright red, orange, or yellow front door provides a modern pop against neutral color exterior walls.
For more modern exterior ideas, click here.
8. Multi Level Ranch Home Ideas
Most people think of a single-story home at the mention of a ranch style floor plan, but multi-level ranch homes are common as well. Some multi-level ranch houses follow the split level or raised ranch floor plans described below. Others include a true second level, an over-garage bonus room, or a full basement.
Like other ranch-style houses, a multi-level ranch home is generally wider than it is tall. It features a low-pitched roof with wide eaves and likely has a ground-level entrance. A Cape Cod inspired ranch house has a second floor that is smaller than the main floor. It often consists of two bedrooms with a connecting Jack-and-Jill bathroom.
9. Ranch Home Interior Ideas
If you purchase an older ranch-style house, try to preserve any interesting architectural elements when possible. For example, you can paint a vaulted ceiling with dropped wood beams white to bring it into the current century. Many people who renovate older ranch homes like to remove walls between living rooms, dining rooms, and kitchens, to create an open concept house plan.
When decorating your ranch home interior, keep to your overall design style. A long, low sofa fits well into a midcentury ranch home, alongside other pieces from that era. If you have a farmhouse ranch, go for a neutral color palette with wood and metal accents. A rustic cabin with a ranch footprint can carry stained wood paneling and a large stone fireplace.
A stucco California ranch home with a Spanish Colonial style feels casual and warm inside. Wooden beams accent low or vaulted ceilings, which usually provide structural support. Arched door openings, terracotta floor tiles, and clean white walls all work well in Spanish-inspired ranch interiors.
10. Small Ranch Home Ideas
A ranch floor plan is perfect for homes on the smaller end of the square foot range. Smaller ranch homes are perfect for retirees, small families, and young adults purchasing their first home. The beauty of the ranch house style is that it works equally well for small cottages as sprawling estates. Simplicity, easy access to outdoor living zones, and one-story living are appropriate regardless of your available square footage.
With a small ranch home, focus on highlighting its cozy aspects. Light colors on walls and furniture help rooms make the most of available natural light. Note that a smaller home is the perfect place to showcase high-end finishes such as quartz countertops or mahogany shiplap. Because of the smaller surfaces, less material is necessary, putting previously unaffordable materials within reach.
11. Split Level Ranch Home Ideas
A split level ranch house includes three levels of living space. The main level includes the kitchen, dining room, and main living room. A half-staircase leads down to a larger great room or family room, and there is often a half bathroom, office, or guest bedroom on this level. Another set of stairs leads up from the main level to the bedrooms and bathrooms.
A split-entry ranch house is similar to the split-level ranch, but when you enter the home, you must decide whether to go upstairs or down. Also called a raised ranch home, these dwellings have the kitchen, main living room, and bedrooms on the upper floor. The downstairs area usually includes a rec room, garage, and perhaps access to a half-basement.
12. Suburban Ranch Home Ideas
Most suburban ranch houses are smaller, simpler versions of the original large California ranch homes. This economical home plan became immensely popular after WW2, when soldiers returned to America and bought new homes for their growing families. Their smaller square footage still includes several bedrooms, making them an affordable choice across America.
Suburban ranch-style houses usually sit on concrete slabs, with sliding glass door access to the patio. These large sliding glass doors may be in the living room, dining room, master bedroom—or all three. Suburban ranch homes come in a wide range of sizes, designs, and styles.
Ranch Home FAQs
Is my 55-year-old ranch home eligible for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places?
It may seem odd to those born in the 1960s and 70s, but the houses they grew up in are now old enough to be historic homes. If you own a home that you think should appear on this registry, begin by contacting your state’s historic preservation office.
How can I improve my boring ranch home’s curb appeal?
Landscaping is an easy way to spruce up any exterior. When adding plants to a ranch home’s exterior, try to choose low shrubs and grasses that won’t block low windows. Taller shrubs and trees can root themselves near the garage or entryway to draw attention to these areas.
Painting siding, brick, and trim can completely change the appearance of your home. Because many ranch homes have a small stoop out front, consider expanding the entrance with a larger, welcoming front porch. Because ranch homes can look boxy, introduce curves in your front path and landscaping to soften the edges.