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Ranch Style Home Décor Guide – What is a Rancher?

Example of a ranch-style house

Ranch homes are American classics with a distinctive look and style. A few style elements include open floor plans, low roofs, and large picture windows. Ranch homes are a great choice for many people because the open floor plans allow for many types of decorating options and styles.

Related: Types of home architectural styles | Types of houses

What is a Ranch Style Home?

A ranch home, aka rancher, is usually defined as a house with a long profile, large windows, and generally an open layout. While a ranch home is almost always a one-story house, there are exceptions. There is what is called a “raised ranch.”  A raised ranch normally has part of the home built over a finished basement. This is similar to what is referred to as a bi-level home. Ranch style homes were basically created for informal living in a suburban setting. Throughout the previous century, ranch style homes were one of the most popular housing styles in the United States.

What are the Interior Features of a Ranch Home?

There are several features that would likely be found in a ranch home. Each of these interior features places an emphasis on simplicity and openness.

Open Floor Plans – Wide-open floor plans are usually the hallmark of a classic ranch style home. Rooms freely flow into each other. This makes it ideal for families with children or people who want to entertain. The lack of very many interior walls makes a ranch easy to build and more affordable than many other types of homes.

Open floor plan in a ranch style house

Simple Rooms – Rooms have basic designs and provide a lot of flexibility when it comes to decorating options. Rooms often have a square or rectangular shape.

Combined Rooms – The interior of a ranch home often combines the living room area and dining room into one open space. There may be a partial wall dividing these two rooms.

What are the Exterior Features of a Ranch Home?

Most ranch homes have a distinctive look, especially on the outside of the house. A ranch style home is known for several specific exterior features.

Long, Low Roof – A long roofline that is low-pitch is normally found on a ranch home. This may make the home appear closer to the ground than a house with a high or sharply pointed roof. These roofs also would usually have low eaves. Many of the older ranch houses had what are called gable roofing. A gabled roof is simply one that has two sloping sections. It comes together, usually somewhere near the middle of the house.

Ranch style house with low-lying roof lines

Large Windows – Ranch homes usually have large windows. This is to let in lots of natural light into the home. The windows might have large areas of glass with little or no ornamentation on the frames or surrounding wood. This can make the inside of the home feel larger than it is.

Attached Garage – Many homes, especially older ones, may have a separate garage. The ranch normally has an attached garage. There is usually an easy entrance from the garage into the kitchen or living room area. Most garages in a ranch are built for two cars to fit comfortably. Larger ranch houses may have two and a half car garages that provide some extra storage space.

Ranch style house with attached garage

Patio Space – Sliding glass doors are often in ranch homes. Right outside the back door is usually a patio space. While decks have grown in popularity in recent years, ranch homes are known to have flat, concrete patios. These are usually basic and flat since they are sometimes used for grilling and play areas for kids.

Rancher with sliding glass doors to patio

What Type of Furniture is in a Ranch Home?

Almost any type of furniture will work well in a ranch home because they usually have large, open floor designs. Large sofas and big-screen televisions are often the centerpiece of the primary living areas. The following are some great furniture ideas that would work well in a ranch home.

Foldable Foam Sofa

‘Foldable foam sofas are basic items that can be used as a starter piece in a room when decorating. Almost any type of style or decor can be built around them. These are also great furniture choices for those on a budget. This piece, which is a convertible foam sofa, is a fun combination of futuristic and minimalism:

Sectional Sofas

Sectional sofas are large sofas, often with many pieces that can be removed or attached in different ways. These types of sofas can be used when decorating in contemporary, traditional, rustic, or even French country. This modern sectional sofa with a reversable chaise is a good decorating option for a ranch home.

Large Dining Tables

Long, rectangular dining tables for family meals or entertaining are often chosen for dining rooms in a ranch home.  This style compliments the most typical structure and shape of ranch homes. Smaller round tables are sometimes used in the kitchen or on a patio.

Formica Countertops

These are long, solid countertops. They are normally made from plastic laminate. Formica is a specific brand that designs these types of countertops. While there are other companies that make laminate countertops, Formica was the first to create this type and style.

Formica countertop installation in ranch-style house

Big Bedroom Sets

Matching bedroom sets have been popular for years and are staples for a ranch home primary bedroom. These bedroom sets often come with a variety of matching furniture. This can include headboards, dressers, mirrors, and nightstands. Most ranch homes will have two or three bedrooms. After the primary bedroom, the others are normally smaller in size. Furniture in these rooms may include matching bunk bed sets for kids.

What Type of Materials are Used in a Rancher

There are lots of different types of materials that are used in Ranch homes. Brick, stone, stucco, and wood are examples of materials that are used for exterior design. While any of these materials can be used for the exterior of the house, wood is what is most often used. It’s also popular to use a combination of these materials when designing a ranch home.

The interior may have flooring that includes everything from ceramic tiles in the kitchen to wall to wall carpeting in the living rooms and bedrooms. For a classic ranch look, a homeowner would want to put real wood flooring throughout much of the house. Whatever type of flooring is chosen, continuity will make the home appear larger.

What Kind of Décor is Found in a Ranch Home?

Decorating a ranch home opens up endless possibilities for a homeowner. Wide open living spaces lend themselves to lots of decorating options. It’s important to remember that there are often low ceilings and large windows in a ranch, which may limit wall space. Keeping this in mind, the following are a few items that would look great in most ranch homes.

  • Curved Lamps – Since floor plans for a ranch are sometimes boxy with low ceilings, curved lamps add much-needed contrast. Choose a brass lamp for a more modern look or even a curved desktop lamp for side tables. Even if a homeowner decides to redecorate in the future and change the style of the room, basic brass lamps will go with just about any type of design.
  • Decorative Coffee Tables – Coffee tables are an American staple, and there is usually plenty of room in a ranch style home to make them look good. A homeowner can really get creative when it comes to coffee table styles. Wood, glass, and metal are all options. Some coffee tables even have drawers or other areas for storage.
  • Throw Rugs – Throw rugs look great on hardwood floors. These also work well if you rearrange furniture a lot. Throw rugs are easy to move and can give a room a very different look when they’re arranged in different ways. This neutral contemporary rug can cover most of the floor space. Throw rugs can blend into the existing color scheme or provide vibrant splashes of color and style.
  • Entry Benches – For a classic ranch house look, entry benches are a great addition. These types of benches are normally placed in entry ways or kitchens. Sometimes they are just basic benches for sitting or decoration. Other benches are more elaborate and have storage areas under the seat.

What Styles Mix Well with a Ranch Home Style?

When there are large, open areas to work with, there are few styles that won’t look good. There are several types of decorating styles that go well with a ranch home. Contemporary, minimalism, and industrial are a few that will look good in a ranch home.

  • Contemporary – The word contemporary means “the moment,” which means this style will likely change from year to year. This is the reason, however, it goes well with so many other styles and different types of structural designs. Currently, contemporary is focusing on form. This means there is an emphasis on clean lines and neutral colors.
  • Minimalism – As the name implies, minimalism means fewer pieces and open spaces. Currently, there isn’t a lot of difference between minimalism and contemporary. This would mean lots of whites and greys. This look is sometimes accented with pieces in subtle blue shades. This style normally wouldn’t include any ornamentation or flowery design.
  • Industrial – The industrial look mimics an open warehouse or large building. The simple, open floor plan of most ranch homes are perfect for this type of style. Industrial decorating often uses rustic colors and metal designs. There are sometimes brick walls, wrought iron light fixtures, and unfinished furniture.

History of the Ranch Home?

The ranch home is an American classic, originating in the United States. This style was first built in the 1920s, but gained wide popularity after World War II. The Ranch style home was a favorite of families flocking to the suburbs and growing housing divisions. This type of style started in the western part of the country and revolved around owning a car. Prior to the end of World War II most people either lived in urban areas or rural areas. Owning a car and driving a lot was not a necessity for people who lived in the city or on a farm. That all changed when suburbs began to grow in the post war era.

The ranch home was one of the most popular types of homes built in the suburbs throughout America for much of the twentieth century. Cliff May is credited for building the first cluster of ranch homes in the San Diego area in 1932. Joe Eichler was an architect and builder who later led the ranch revolution by designing large housing tracts for WWII veterans. Many of these types of homes were box or rectangular shaped. Architects, however, sometimes designed them in an L or U shape. The heyday of the ranch style home was pretty much over by the 1970s. Of course many of these homes are still around and have been updated and redecorated with modern styling. The ranch house is even starting to make a comeback in certain areas of the country.

Why is the Ranch Home a Great Choice?

The ranch style home is one of the most popular styles in the United States. The ranch style is a good choice for almost anyone building or buying a home because of its versatility. Ranch homes often have wide open floor plans. This means furniture is not only easier to move in and out of the home, but it provides lots of options for arranging different pieces in the home. With smaller rooms and more closed in spaces in a home, there is often only a few ways to arrange furniture or decorate a room. With large open spaces in a ranch style home, the decorating options are almost endless.

Since the roof usually has a low pitch, it is easier to make repairs. Roofs that are steeper or more angular are often more dangerous or difficult to repair. Ranch homes are often a good choice for older individuals or those with disabilities. Without any stairs to climb, it’s easier to move throughout the house. The open floor plans make it easier to maneuver through the home if devices such as wheelchairs or walkers are needed. Ranch homes can be large and elaborate for big families or small and affordable for one or two individuals to live in. Ranch homes can fit almost any budget and style preference. Since the basic premises of a ranch home is so fundamental, it can be expanded on and added to if necessary. Everything from a small 2-bedroom ranch to a sprawling ranch with several bedrooms and bathrooms are all options.

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