Once one of the most prominent styles in the United States, Ranch style homes have become a ubiquitous part of the American neighborhood landscape. Characterized by their modernist appearance in comparison to earlier elaborate styles like Craftsman and Victorian, these open floor planned properties were the standard of living. The questions we look to to answer is what makes a Ranch home what it is, why was it so popular, and where do you find one for yourself locally here in Long Beach.
Features of a Ranch Style House
This architecture style is an American tradition. Ranch style homes were once the primary type of home being built during the 1940s and 50s. They were also sometimes called “California Ranch”, “ramblers”, and “ranchers”. Based on the aesthetics of earlier working Spanish and American ranches, where homes would be built to keep the house cooled off and accessible for everyday life, these homes typically have wide eaves along the entire exterior of the house and a single story. Occasionally, Ranch style homes will have a second level, usually in the form of a basement or lower level built into a hillside. The shape of the property is often rectangular, L-shaped, and U-shaped with large courtyard and patio areas.
Exterior decorations for Ranch style homes frequently include large windows and sliding glass doors. Finishes include brick, stucco, and wood. Garages are typically attached to the home. The bedroom areas of the home will be distanced from the primary living areas. This is unlike many of the home floor plans built in the 30s and 40s prior to Ranch style’s popularity. Many of these features have continued on all the way into modern construction.
Cliff May, California’s Ranch Style Pioneer
“ The early Californians had the right idea. They built for the seclusion and comfort of their families, for the enjoyment of relaxation in their homes. We want to perpetuate these ideas of home building.” -Cliff May
A prolific building designer in Southern California, Cliff May is widely considered a pioneer of the Ranch style. Cliff May tried to integrate everyday living into the house in ways beyond the simple requirements of family rooms, kitchens, and entertaining spaces. Using ample windows and glass doors, May invited the sunlight into each of his homes. He was among the first to integrate sliding glass doors in his work. May continuously worked to invite nature into the home with ample patio and courtyard space. He also typically chose to build outwards rather than cluster spaces together.
In Long Beach, Cliff May’s work can be found in the Rancho Estates neighborhood, which was developed between 1953 and 1954. Locals will recognize this as being just west of El Dorado Park. This was also the largest development by Cliff May. His work can also be found in other areas of Los Angeles County including Brentwood and Pacific Palisades.
The Rise and Fall
Ranch style homes were prolific in their spread across the country. Built between the 1940s and 1970s, Ranch style homes could be seen from coast to coast with regional variations to meet the taste of the locals. 9 out of every 10 houses was likely to be Ranch style. The details of these continued to become more streamlined and modern as construction continued into the 60s. This would later prove to be its downfall when ornate and traditional aesthetics came back into style. Cheap construction methods and increased lot values also turned buyers and builders alike away from the style.
These days, Ranch style homes are in high demand again. This is driven by interest in both the mid-century modern aesthetic that many embrace, as well as the integration of indoor/outdoor living that is again coming into popularity with homebuyers. Ranch style homes are considered easy to upgrade since they follow current construction methods that make it much less complicated to rewire or re-plumb in comparison to earlier styles, making these a perfect option for homeowners looking to restore or upgrade older properties.
While there are not many new homes being built in this style in large tracts, remodels and individual projects are increasingly pulling design cues from Cliff May’s work and his contemporaries. When these properties do come onto the market, they will often sell quickly.
Ranch Style Homes in Long Beach
Long Beach is one of the first locales to adopt the Ranch style, with the Ranchos as the largest tract built by Cliff May. Other neighborhoods that have ranch style homes include Los Altos, Carson Park, the Plaza, South of Conant, Stratford Square, Artcraft Manor, Park Estates, La Marina Estates, and University Park Estates. There are also a number of entry-level ranch style homes in Lakewood.
Think you’re in the market for a Ranch style home? Our team is happy to help you find the right neighborhood and keep you informed about new properties coming on to the market. For those who are looking to sell their Ranch style home, we’ve sold many in this style, and are prepared to aid you in finding your buyers quickly and for the right price. Contact us with the form below, and we’ll introduce ourselves.