Thursday, August 25, 2011

"The Rancher" - A Delmar House Style

The Ranch style house - what can you say about them? They are everywhere and there are so many of them you may not even notice them anymore. In the 1950s, the California ranch house, or Rancher accounted for nine out of every ten new houses. Delmar was no exception to the 1950 trend. Today the suburban ranch house (or rambler) gets a pretty bad rap. For starters, there are just so many of them, a large number of which are bland and inoffensive at best. The ranch house has been called the "poor stepchild of American architecture," by Alan Hess of Architectural Digest. "Unpretentious, low-slung, cranked out like Big Macs by tract-house builders in the 1950s, it was America’s most widely built single family home its very success casting a spell that doomed it to invisibility."

The ranch house is noted for its long, close-to-the-ground profile, and minimal use of exterior and interior decoration. The houses originally fused modernist ideas and styles with notions of the American Western period working ranches to create a very informal and casual living style. The Rancher is usually a long, low, Single story, low roofline, sometime attached garage, Sliding glass doors opening onto a patio, Large windows, often decorated with shutters house that has a lot of variations to it. Practical and cheap millions of returning soldiers from WWII received VA loans for these houses. Prevailing loan programs of the day made getting a home loan with no money down easier than it ever had been in previous years. The House design is considered the epitome of "suburbia."

The availability and increasing popularity of the automobile also defined the heyday of the ranch house floor plan. For the first time, the garage was moved to the front of the home. This was the first generation of home owners to have a highly prized freedom and mobility to work and shop in the city and then retreat to the suburbs to live. Because the suburbs removed the need to build houses close together, lots became increasingly larger and the square footage of the average house floor plan expanded accordingly. Still square footage can run from 800 to 4,000 sq ft. The popularity of these houses ran from the 1940's to the 1980's and are still popular.

In Delmar perhaps the most Classic of ranchers are in the Delmar Manor section of town. But every development around town and in town has some of them. a number of lots in which the old Victorian two story burnt now have a rancher built on them. in some cases they are turned sideways in order to fit the small 40' frontage of in town lots.

The ranch house floor plan was the American Dream in a box from the late 1940s to the mid 1960s. Sliding glass doors, kidney shaped swimming pools and back yard patios created a new informal way of entertaining guests. Though the ranch house floor plan was the embodiment of casual living, most homes of that era lacked architectural details that would make them memorable.

By the 1970's and 1980's the pampered baby boomers demanded more square feet and showy front entries with grand staircases and vaulted ceilings and the house of choice became a the split level home with Colonial or English details.

In recent years, interest in ranch house designs has been increasing. Younger house buyers find that ranch houses are affordable entry level homes in many markets, and the single story living of the house has appeal for the aging baby boomers to whom stairs are no longer attractive with their knee and hip problems.

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