When thinking of ranch houses, people often imagine a large property encompassing fields of animals, grain crops, barns, and a long and low-roofed home. But in reality, there’s an entire architectural style going by this name, and not all examples of it are farms. Ranch-style homes are often rather a mixture of various features, borrowing elements from Spanish Colonial and Prairie Modern styles. This architectural type offered residents highly livable conditions, integrating the outdoors into homes through enormous windows and glass doors which lead out to lush backyards, children’s playgrounds or cozy patios.
Ranch-style homes originate from the United States, having gained prominence in the 1920’s. Their sudden surge in popularity is linked to the rise of the car culture, making it easier for residents to move to the outskirts of the city—areas which would later become known as ‘suburbs’. This allowed locals to purchase larger pieces of land than those which can be found near city centres, which permitted the construction of spread-out homes—one of the most significant features of this architectural style. Here we offer a list of some the characteristics of Canadian ranch-style homes:
Single-story, close-to-ground profile
Since suburban life came with owning a generous piece of land, locals made good use of it by building well-spread-out homes. The layout of the house is typically formed in a rectangular L- or U-shape, while the façade of the home is usually asymmetrical. These dwellings mostly have a single level; however, two-storey ranch homes gained popularity toward the end of the 1970’s, as traditional ranch-style houses were in decline. This gorgeous custom-built listing in London is an excellent example of a typical suburban ranch-style home.
Built from local, natural materials
Two of the main concepts behind ranch-style architecture were to be practical and to simplify everything. Taking this into consideration, it’s easy to see why architects favoured local construction materials. Stucco, brick, wood and stone were often used in the building process, depending on the area. This elegant 4-bedroom house in Ottawa provides a nice example.
Low roofline with eves or gables
Another easily recognizable characteristic of ranch homes is their low, sometimes almost Mediterranean-style rooflines. Simple hipped or gabled roofs are common, and sometimes these may also come with wide eaves. This solid brick house in Windsor has a textbook example of the low roof of a prairie ranch-style home, transplanted to an urban environment.
Abundance of large windows
With the aim of getting closer to nature (even if that just means one’s private back yard), ranch houses mostly feature oversized windows on all sides. Although the façade is more modest in this regard, the back of the homes usually also boast an abundance of large windows, often accompanied by sliding glass patio doors. This award-winning custom house in London offers a fine example of this feature, with its walls of windows at the back.
Another obvious and distinctive element of ranch-style homes is the attached garage. Even if the residents have two or more cars, ranch houses nearly always have their accommodation for vehicles attached to the main house, as you can see in this 2-bedroom London home, offering ease of access to tenants.
With so many practical features enabling living in harmony with the outdoors, it’s no wonder that ranch-style architecture became so popular, particularly in the years just after World War II. And in recent years it has been making a comeback, with many people taking inspiration from the simplicity of the style when constructing their own homes. What is your opinion of ranch-style homes–would you ever consider living in one? Don’t hesitate to share your view in the comments section below!