Ranch House Plans

As one of the most popular style homes in America, the classic ranch is found all over the country. Whether it’s in the suburbs, the city, or on coastal towns, you’ve likely come across several ranch houses before.

But ranches have little connection to true cattle ranches. The name is more of a nickname and a nod to the similar floor plan, which is a single-story open-concept that blends the inside with the outside. Also nicknamed ramblers, ranches were once the home every middle-class American wanted to get their family into.

Today, ranches are excellent choices for families of any size. If you’re unsure whether or not the ranch is right for you, first take a look at the key features of a classic ranch and how it can be upgraded to match your style.

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What Is a Ranch Style House?

Although the original style stems from Spanish colonials in the 17th and 18th centuries, we might have to thank former San Diego architect Cliff May for popularizing this style in the U.S. Although he was not a registered architect, May is often credited for bringing the ranch style to suburban life, as they were originally designed to be affordable homes throughout World War II.


The design worked perfectly: these homes were found all over the country in the 1950s, with 9 out of 10 houses built being a ranch! Ranches soon became a staple of suburbia, making perfect homes for the average middle-class American and ultimately helping build the classic idea of a neighborhood.

But, for a short time in the 1990s, ranches slowly declined in popularity when many homeowners looked at upgrading to two-story homes. However, ranches have made their comeback as home builders begin to crave simplicity. Today, ranches are most appealing as affordable starter homes for first-time homebuyers, or new empty-nesters.

Key Elements of the Ranch Style

Ranch style homes are most commonly characterized by a single story with a low roof and attached garage. There is no set rule to the exterior and interior design of a ranch, although there are many common key elements that are found in each ranch home, like a seamless blending from indoors to outdoors.

One interesting variation of this style is a popular modification called the raised ranch. Oddly enough, a raised ranch is technically a two-story house, but is still considered a ranch since its “second floor” actually refers to the finished basement.

A raised ranch has an entry on the main level while the garage is in the basement. Usually, this is made possible with uneven landscaping, where the front of the home is on a hill. This is not to get confused with a split-level home, though. Split-level homes have a split foyer, where upon entering the home, you are met with a small foyer and two sets of stairs where you can decide to go up to the main living space or down to the finished basement.

Image: A raised ranch from Monster House Plans

Other key elements have remained timeless for the most part. The design can range from mid-century modern to classic contemporary — but what makes a ranch a classic is its key interior and exterior styles.

Interior Styles

Interior Floor Plan Model
  • Simple, open floor plans with utility or basement space.
  • Attached garage, since these homes became popular the same time as automobiles.
  • Living areas separate from bedroom areas, usually divided by a long, private hallway.
  • Vaulted ceilings to make living spaces appear larger.
  • Large windows to allow sunlight with eaves to cast a shadow.
  • Most ranch homes fit up to three or four bedrooms.

Like most designs, the ranch-style has evolved. Many people love the concept of the ranch’s single floor plan and combine that with some of the larger features of other homes, like craftsmen and farmhouses.

Exterior Styles

  • A single-story or raised story.
  • Low-pitched gable or hipped roofs.
  • An asymmetrical design that is usually L-shaped or U-shaped.
  • Patio or outdoor area, since ranches help emphasize outdoor living and landscape design.
  • Might have siding or made up of mixed materials like stucco, brick, wood, and stone.
  • Could be midcentury or traditional style homes since there is no one rule to the exterior design of a ranch home.

Is the Ranch Style Right for You?

For some, living in a ranch home is purely logical. For those who live in hot climates, this single-story home is complete with big eaves by the windows which help filter harsh sunlight from warming up the home. These homes are also built with patios and pools in mind, which are a perfect way to cool off on a hot summer day. On top of that, single level designs are perfect for empty nesters who don’t want to deal with a flight of stairs in their home.

And then for others, smaller homes are just easier to deal with. That’s why sometimes, bigger isn’t always better! With the typical American home at 1,500 square feet, it’s not uncommon to find a ranch around 1,500 square feet. Ranches are perfect for you if you don’t mind a single floor that might be quaint in size.

But if the size is a dealbreaker, then there’s good news: when you browse through brand new floorplans, it’s easy to find ranches that are over 2,000 square feet.

If you live in a hot climate, like to spend time outside, or just want a comfortable, open space, then the ranch might be for you. Combined with open concept living, this style home can be perfect for any size family.

Find the Perfect Floor Plan Today

Ranches will seemingly never go out of style. After all, it’s hard to argue with the open floor plan, single stories, and L- and U-shaped layouts. These homes might be simple, but they offer plenty of space and functionality without breaking the bank.

At Monster House Plans, you’ll find hundreds of ranch floorplans where you can customize any aspect to make them perfect for you and your family. Ranging from homes under 1,000 square feet to well over 2,500 and styles that emulate midcentury or traditional, you’re sure to find your dream home here!