Characteristics of Ranch Style Homes


According to the National Association of Realtors, the ranch-style home's affordability and single-story design make it the most prolific residential design in the United States.


  • The ranch-style home is found all across the United States with subtle variances by region, such as exposed rafters or brick cladding.


  • The ranch-style originated in the Spanish Colonial period of the 1820s with horizontal adobe buildings that were low to the ground. Westward expansion and sawmills led to board and batten techniques and the Prairie and Craftsman home styles. These styles led to the California ranch-style of the 1930s, pioneered by Cliff May. The Prairie homes of Frank Lloyd Wright influenced May's designs and by the 1950s, the ranch-style populated the suburbs.

Exterior Features

  • A single-story floor plan and a low-pitched roof typify the exterior of the ranch-style home. The roof also features front and side gables in an asymmetrical "L"-shaped format. Ranch-style homes include a built-in garage. Patios and porches are common, though few details adorn the exterior. Details may include false shutters or cladding made of bricks or wood.

Interior Features

  • The interiors of ranch-style homes consist of rectangular, L- or U-shaped floor plans, creating an open, informal feel. Floor plans often feature specific living zones with a kitchen and dining room serving as a buffer between the sleeping and living areas. Floor-to-ceiling windows and glass doors stretch across the rear of the home. The front features smaller, horizontal windows.


  • The accessibility and affordability of ranch-style homes make it a viable option for multiple types of homeowners. The single-story layout provides accessibility, as there are no stairs and most areas of the home can be reached without a ladder, simplifying maintenance. The affordability of ranch-style homes makes them a popular starter home, with the ability to expand easily.

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