We see a lot of different types of homes as we perform chimney service through the DC metro area. One of the home styles we see the most often is the Ranch home. We see this home style so often, and have become so fond of it, that we’ve decided to write a little ode to the Ranch Home…
Home on the Ranch
A cowboy’s work is never done. Like a good chimney that sticks it out for us no matter what, they’ll stick it out until you pay them to leave. They have no time to climb stairs, especially they’re in love with the moonshine (wink, wink) and it’s time to rustle up some grub. A cowboy could give a rusty horseshoe about setting the dining room table, if he had a dining room. He and the other hands take their meals in the seating area attached to the kitchen, though sitting around the fireplace is mighty nice. Guests are more than welcome to eat in the patio, but, for the most part, the ranch style home, is a paragon of American efficiency.
A cowboy shuns ostentatious displays. Appropriately, a ranch house dispenses with the exterior frills of say a Victorian home, one of the styles of residential architecture that waned as the American ranch house rose in popularity. The inside, as well, offered little in the way of finery. This was no home for the swells, partner. Low roofs and wide eaves helped abate the scorching heat in the Southwest’s ranches where it was a common sight.
Its simple, single-story floor plan made it spread like wild-fire in the housing tracts in the post-war baby boom. An L or U shape to the plan allowed ample space for a courtyard where middle-class families could entertain each other. Yep, on sunny afternoon in Washington D.C., it was tough to imagine anything better than spending a summer day in your ranch style home.
An Old Horse Changes Its Spots
By the end of the Second World War, enterprising architects had learned how to assimilate a wide variety of building materials and architectural influences into the basic concept of the ranch home. This may have contributed, in part, to the reaction against the ranch style home, but it also added to its overall durability. A ranch house is like a day on the range: it’s what you make of it.
Your ranch style house in the Washington D.C. area can easily absorb the various stylistic elements seen in the American Foursquare such as exposed rafter tails on its wide eaves, gabled dormers or entryways, tapered posts and, of course, a range of window treatments. Rustle up some native stones for a little exposed detail work around your centrally-located chimney, then see who calls you a lily-livered prairie dog. Yet the Colonial and Craftsman influences are only two style pallets available for you to outfit your new home. A few trips around the world have lent the ranch style home enough Mediterranean, Asian and Pacific flavor to last about as long as the human imagination can endure.