- The Ranch style of domestic architecture was originally based on the sprawling, single-story Spanish Colonial ranches of the Southwest but was modified as a suburban middle-class home in the 1930s to better accommodate the dramatically increased need for single-family housing in the United States, a need that peaked in the 1950s. The Ranch house first appeared in the quickly growing state of California, where the automobile allowed for easy access from the city to the suburbs and their less expensive, larger lots. Ranch homes featured large lots with big yards and a rambling, one-story style that dominated the space. Ranch homes feature a brick exterior with a front porch at ground level, covered by a long, low roofline and a hipped roof, shuttered windows, and simple trim. Inside, the houses feature a simple, open floor plan, often in an L shape, where sleeping areas are divided from living areas.Like the Usonian houses first adapted by Frank Lloyd Wright for more popular use, Ranch homes have a centrally located kitchen styled as the core of family life. Sliding glass doors open up into the backyard, echoing Wright's interest in the integration of the exterior and the interior of his homes. The Ranch house goes a step further, however, with the inclusion of a more informal recreational room in addition to the living room, and the addition of an attached garage. The increased length of a house with an attached garage provides an imposing façade and symbolizes the central importance of the automobile to this house design. Le Corbusier had incorporated automobile parking at the ground level of his Villa Savoye of 1929, but there the main living areas were elevated, in keeping with the more traditional domestic format of the piano nobile set above ground-floor storage areas.The most important aspects of the Ranch house, which have given this house style such an enduring appeal, are its "livability" for middle-class families, its flexibility in floor plan, and its simple, clean lines that allowed such homes to adapt easily to a variety of climates and blend into different types of neighborhoods. By the 1950s, the California Ranch, the Midwestern Ranch, and the Colonial Ranch were varieties of the Ranch house, the decade's most popular house type in the United States.
Historical Dictionaries of Literature and the Arts. Allison Lee Palmer. 2008.
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