Friday, September 27, 2013

Shop 4 Classics Reviews Ranch Style Homes: Eventually We All Get Old

Last weekend, I rolled up behind an old Chevy pickup truck sitting at a stoplight.  It looked very much like the truck that my father drove when I was a boy.  I pictured the truck parked in the front of our ranch style home in suburban mid-Missouri.  The truck and the ranch home were new at the time.  As the light turned green and the truck pulled away, I noticed it had antique designated license plates.  Antique?  How could that be?  I soon realized that the antique classification was correct.  The truck is old as am I.  So old in fact, that the DMV would consider me to be an antique.  So old that the ranch house that was my boyhood home could soon qualify for the National Register of Historic Places.  In the grand scheme of things, ranch houses are a relatively new architectural style but they've been around long enough that we now can consider them vintage.  Today, the Shop 4 Classics Old House Blog reviews ranch style homes.

Faux Shutter Hardware
Ranch homes first appeared in the 1920s and 1930s.  They are largely located in suburbia but they evolved from Spanish ranchos found in the rural ranches of southern California--hence the name "ranch".  Also sometimes called California ranch homes, ramblers, or American ranch homes, this architectural style spread across the US through the 1940s and 1950s before hitting its peak in the 1960s and 1970s.

Traditional House Numbers
Ranch style homes are single story structures; typically linear or L-shaped.  They have low-pitched gable roofs and frequently feature a long narrow front porch.  A front facing carport or attached garage is common.  A large picture window is one of the ranch home's defining characteristics.  The picture window is often flanked by fixed decorative shutters.  Ranch homes usually have simple, modest architectural details and instead rely on decorative hardware such as faux shutter hardware, garage door dummy strap hinges, and traditional house numbers for curb appeal.

Pocket Door Hardware
Ranch house interiors feature an open floor plan.  Sliding pocket doors and pocket door hardware are typical as is wood veneer paneling.  Kitchens and baths in ranch homes often have laminate flooring and countertops but the pièce de résistance is the colored fixtures.  Fabulous toilets, built-in tubs, and sinks in pink, green, and blue pastels highlighted colorful baths in ranch homes constructed in the 1960s and 1970s.  Small bathrooms utilized vanities with drop-in sinks to provide under sink storage.  Built-in tubs with in-wall tub & shower sets are the norm for ranch homes.  Even to obsessive ranch home preservationists, pastel colored bath fixtures have limited appeal today but much of the other plumbing and hardware is still available today.
Drop-In Sink

As with any home style, regional variations of ranch homes exist.  Ranch homes in the Southwest are more open and spacious while those built in the Northeast are more compact to provide heating and cooling efficiency as well as space conservation.  Ranch homes in the Midwest often have basements that at some point likely became finished basements.  Regardless of where you go, you are likely to find complete subdivisions of ranch style homes in suburban USA.

Ranch style homes may not get the attention that Victorian homes receive and they lack the passionate fans that Arts & Crafts homes enjoy but like me, ranch style homes have aged gracefully and are now an American classic.  Shop 4 Classics specializes in antique reproduction plumbing and vintage hardware for old homes of all types.  Visit to find period appropriate hardware and plumbing for your ranch style home.

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