Ranch Architecture In Phoenix, Old, Modern & Transitional Ranch Style Homes
In Phoenix, Arizona, many, many historic districts and neighborhoods house ranch homes in their majority. A few examples of these neighborhoods are Arcadia, Pierson Place, North Encanto, just to name a few.
The ranch architectural style is like jazz and great cheeseburgers. it’s an art form unique to America. Low-slung ranch homes, modeled after the casual style of homes on true Western ranches, were first built in the 1930’s and spent the next four decades popping up like mushrooms all over the countryside.
After falling out of favor in the 1980’s and 1990’s, ranch homes are now enjoying a return to vogue, mostly as custom-built homes.
The ranch style house can be considered a sub-type of modern-style architecture, which embraces open spaces and the connection between indoor and outdoor living.
The art form was pioneered by California architect Cliff May, whose houses were often a single room deep so each room could open to the outside and benefit from sunshine and warm breezes.
Key Elements of a Ranch Home
- Single-floor living. The ranch home’s low profile comes from its roots in the Western United States, where working ranch homes were one-level, practical and unadorned. Modernist influences also kept ranch homes simple and single-story for the most part, although split-level ranches did become popular in the 1950’s.
- Asymmetry. Classic ranch homes are often shaped like “L”s or “U”s.
- Sliding glass doors. One major purpose of the ranch style is to link the outdoors and the indoors. Sliding glass doors became a standard way to let in as much light and view as possible while connecting the living space directly to a patio.
- Backyard emphasis. Earlier American homes focused on the front porch, but ranch homes were designed for a private life out back.
- The garage. The spread of ranch homes coincided with America’s flight to the suburbs, which meant these homes had to accommodate cars, usually two.
Transitional Ranch Style Homes
An early, basic form of the Ranch style, known as the Transitional Ranch house, shared characteristics with the Minimal Traditional style. Also known as the Compact Ranch house, the Transitional Ranch form featured one-story horizontal massing, asymmetrical fenestration, low-pitched roofing with wide eave overhang, recessed entrance or small stoop, and an attached carport/garage. For Transitional Ranch houses, the length-to-width ratio is defined as less than two to one. Small and rectangular in form, the first Ranch houses typically contained a living-dining room, open kitchen, two to three bedrooms, and one bathroom.
From Transitional Ranch Style to Linear Ranch Style
Transitional Ranch houses gave way to Traditional Ranch houses that embodied the full linear form of the style. Later adaptations of the Ranch style introduced additional interior space with the family room gaining popularity in designs.
The 1960s Ranch rambler separated the private master suite from the children’s rooms with public living, dining, and kitchen spaces. This reflected the importance of functionality in Ranch style houses and also created the signature rambling, elongated form.
Innovative design elements, including patios with sliding glass doors, picture windows, and built-in planter boxes, were incorporated into the plans of Ranch houses. These elements emphasized muted versions of the style mostly lack the attached garages and ornate elements usually associated with the Ranch house.
Famous Ranch Home Examples
- Rancho del Cielo. Ronald Reagan’s Western White House near Santa Barbara, California was the former president’s retreat from public life.
- The homes of Joseph Eichler. Like those of Cliff May, the ranch homes designed by California architect Joseph Eichler are enjoying a resurgence. Eichler’s designs are heavily influenced by modernist principles.
Practically Speaking: Hassles and Headaches
Ranch homes tend to be easy to maintain because they’re often made of brick, which requires little fuss, and they’re sparsely adorned. But their flat style can spell trouble down the road as rainwater tends to collect on poorly drained flat or near-flat roofs and leak as the house ages.
Ranch houses were created for the California landscape and climate. If you’re living in, say, Minnesota, a home designed to enjoy balmy weather is not necessarily a good fit, but that didn’t stop ranch homes from being mass-produced ad nauseam across the country.
Lifestyle In a Ranch Style Home
Ranch homes are synonymous with laid-back living. They emphasize the family-friendly backyard, usually connected to the kitchen or dining area via a sliding glass door and flat patio. It’s hard to picture a ranch house without a barbecue grill out back, isn’t it?
But the style also evokes a less eco-friendly era, as its sprawling floor plan gobbles up land and is not particularly conscious about conserving space or resources.
Modern Style Ranch Homes
Ranch homes do not have to be old to have a historic feel with a modern look.
Contributions by: Karin Beuerlein HGTV and Paula Ables