Return of the Rambler Ranch House

The ranch home (or rambler, as they are often called) is enjoying resurgence in popularity as their simple design and function livability appeal to a wide range of buyers from young families to Baby Boomers.

The rule of the ranch house started during Post-World War II California, when it began its eventual domination of the American suburban landscape. By 1950, nine out of 10 new houses were ranch houses. These ramblers, with their sprawling footprint and large lots, were built into massive subdivisions on inexpensive land that served the growing middle-class market.

Common characteristics of ramblers, or ranch homes, include:

  • Single story with attached garage
  • Horizontal, rambling layout in rectangular, L-shaped, or U-shaped design
  • Large “walls” of windows
  • Simple, open floor plans
  • Natural materials such as oak floors, wood or brick exterior
  • Open, informal and casual with family rooms and kitchens that open to dining areas

In today’s market, many house-hunters are now actively seeking rambler homes, citing everything from large lot size to location to living conditions as what attracts them to this style of home.

Aging boomers find ranch homes great if they want to avoid stairs, as well as retirees who want homes that are efficient and pack a lot of function into a smaller space. Fans of mid-century modern design view some ramblers as an extension of that style, particularly when they have a brick facade.

First-time buyers consider ranch homes an affordable option since they can be less costly to buy than comparably sized two-story houses. And families with young children also like the idea of toddler-friendly, one-level living.

Contemporary-loving home owners who prefer an open-style loft plan consider the ranch home a great foundation to gain the look and space they want without compromising structural support. Simple design tweaks, reframes and additions result in custom homes that fit the owner’s personal style, such as this 6,000-square-foot beauty in Bellevue Forest near Arlington, Virginia.

The locations of ramblers can also be a draw for those who prefer living in mature neighborhoods within walkable distance to gathering areas, restaurants, shops and downtown, as opposed to brand-new housing tracts built further out.

No matter what home buyers are seeking, ranch-style homes offer a lot of positives for everyone from Baby Boomers to first-time buyers and those in between. Not to mention the fact that almost no other home can brag of the same American born-and-bred heritage that these ramblers can.