Updating a ranch house

Upgrades and Downgrades By the late 1960s, builders were taking short cuts and the ranch house would be reduced to decidedly bland and charmless rectangular boxes; cheap imitations that often lacked the charm and functionality of the original models.

The sheer omnipresence of the ranch house also made it the perfect target for critics.

The ranch, with its single-storied, low slung profile, its open-plan interior, attached garage and large windows conveyed a unique diffidence, informality and lack of pretention.

For Cliff May, the Californian designer credited with designing the first ranch house in the 1930s, the ranch house was developed to serve three basic tenets: ” With cross ventilation, sliding glass doors, large windows, private semi-enclosed patios and exterior corridors, the early ranch was all about "sunshine and informal outdoor living" that “connect you to the day, to the time of day and the weather of the day.” The post-and-beam construction and open floor plan allowed for a lot of light.

But to dismiss the ranch house outright would be to miss some of the magnificent reinterpretations of the style that emerged throughout the mid-century.

In California, architects and builders at Eichler Homes and the Alexander Construction Company built some gorgeous ranch homes with a sleek mid-centiury modernist twist. • 11 Mid-century modern Palm Springs ranch with "butterfly roof". Note the diamond-patterned concrete blocks, emblematic of the Southern Californian mid-century modern design. Advertisement for an Eichler-designed home in a 1960s issue of Family Circle magazine.• 13 A less than thrilling example of the ranch house.

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This 50s ranch incorporates old ranch and barn ideas, and old European ideas like French doors. For the first time, kitchens were opened up to an ever-shrinking dining area.Family and recreational areas were paramount, as was storage space.• 6 Highly coveted "lanai model" Cliff May home in Long Beach, CA. Rancho Style.• 7 A Palm Springs home built by the Alexander Construction Company.

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