What Is a Ranch Style House? Common Types and Benefits

ranch style house gathering family surrounded by beautiful nature

If you’ve found the perfect plot of land to build your dream house, you’re likely thinking about what style suits you best. If you prefer modern American ranch, you’re not alone — according to Google, ranch-style houses are among the top home style searches for inspiration. In this article, we’re diving deeper into the basics of ranch style homes, explaining the most common features and benefits.

What Is a Ranch Style House?

The traditional ranch house is a one-story house with an open floor plan and patio. These houses usually have low-pitch rooflines, wide roof eaves, and large frontal windows. While the shape of the home can vary, they are usually rectangular or have a U or L shape. More often than not, sliding glass doors open onto the backyard or patio, making for an easy transition from the inside to the outside area. 

It’s important to know that while ranch houses are usually single-story buildings, many modern homes nowadays have fully-finished basements. These can serve as an additional floor, which expands the usable living space. It provides a great spot to build storage, add extra bedrooms, or some premium amenities such as a home gym or a theater. 

History of the Ranch Style House

The ranch house style we know today is rooted in North American Spanish Colonial architecture. The architecture style boomed after World War II when it became a favorite among returning soldiers looking to settle down with their families, thanks to the ease of construction and options for customization. The ranch style homes accounted for nine out of every 10 newly built homes in America during the 1950s, with each region putting its spin on it. Today, ranch style houses are found throughout the country and are still one of the most famous architectural style choices.

The Different Types of Ranch Homes

Though different styles of ranch homes share common characteristics, key features can also set them apart. Here are some types of ranch homes tailored to different homeowner needs.

California Ranch

The California ranch has an L or U-shaped structure built low to the ground. This single-story style is designed to blend with nature and also features a front lawn or patio. Modern California ranches are typically made with stone, stucco, or wood exteriors with a strong emphasis on nature to fit the house into its environment. The natural motif frequently carries inside with exposed wood beams, tall ceilings, and many windows, especially off the great room.

Suburban Ranch

The suburban ranch is very similar to the California ranch. It also has an L or U shape and an open-concept interior. However, it’s more compact and asymmetrical in structure. It’s built on a slab and might include an attached garage and backyard. This ranch style is more affordable, thanks to its straightforward design and practical finishings. The single-level, open-plan home is well-liked as a beginning or downsizing home.

Split-Level Ranch

The split-level ranch style is an upgraded version of the suburban ranch. On the first look, it has a similar exterior but features three stories of living space. It has a unique layout where the front door leads to the living, kitchen, and dining areas. Two half-flights of stairs lead to additional bedrooms and extra living space, including storage rooms or laundry. In addition, some split-level ranch houses might have a garage on the lower level.

Raised Ranch

The raised ranch has multiple stories but a different layout than the split-level type. The front door opens to a foyer with a staircase leading upstairs to the main living area and bedrooms and downstairs to the workspaces, garage, laundry room, and storage area.

Storybook Ranch

You might know this ranch type as the fairytale ranch. With an abundance of decorative details, diamond-shaped window panes, a steep, gabled roof, and a decorative chimney, the storybook ranch gives real fairytale vibes. 

Where are Ranch Style Houses Most Popular?

Although in the past ranch style houses were most popular in the Southwest, nowadays they can be found all across the US. In addition to the Southwest, they are especially prevalent in the North, West, Northwest, and Midwest. That being said, different types are more popular in different parts of the country. For example, in the Midwest and Northwest, there are usually raised ranches with finished basements. On the other hand, you can generally find ranch style homes on slabs in the warmer climates of the Southwest. 

Benefits of Ranch Style Houses

Ranch style homes are very popular thanks to the significant benefits the architectural style offers. Here are some of them: 

Great Mobility 

One of the main benefits of ranch style homes is the seamless functionality. Because these houses usually have only one story, they are ideal for the elderly or people with mobility issues. In addition, everything is located on the first floor, which makes it easily accessible. 

Modern Floorplan

Even though ranch homes first appeared in the 1920s, they were ahead of their time by incorporating modern wide-open-concept floorplans. Combining the kitchen, living room, and dining room, an open ranch home floorplan simplifies the day-to-day functioning and maximizes natural light throughout the house.

Simpler Exterior Maintenance

Ranch homes are simpler to maintain and repair on the outside since they have one story and a low-pitched roofline. This means that you won’t need to climb a ladder onto the roof to clean your windows or gutters.


Living on a single floor makes it simpler to escape an emergency, such as a fire. Additionally, it eliminates the possibility of falling down a steep flight of steps, which is crucial for families with young children or elderly relatives. 

Final Thoughts: Who Are Ranch Homes Best For?

Depending on the location and land the house is built on, ranch homes can range from 700 square feet to 3,000 square feet or more. Ranch houses are ideal for any person who prefers single-story living. The style is commonly found in senior living facilities because it provides more functional and accessible space than multi-level homes. Ranch homes are also an excellent choice for people who want open floor plans and easy indoor-outdoor movement or enjoy a more straightforward home design.

Looking for Vacant Land?

Discount Lots has affordable land for sale across the country.