If you’ve driven around an older neighborhood at some point in your life, you’ve likely noticed that in some cases the homes had a certain style – flat and sprawled out. Chances are, you’re looking at an established neighborhood from the middle of the 1900s where ramblers (also known as ranch homes, depending on which side of the country you’re on) were all the rage. These homes have recently become “en vogue” after a several-decade hiatus. If you find yourself attracted to the style and would like to know more about them, read on.
WHAT IS A RAMBLER?
A rambler, also known as a ranch-style house, is a domestic architectural style that originated in the U.S. in the 1920s but was made most popular between the 1940s and 1970s. Ramblers are known for their long, low profile and minimal exterior and interior decoration. As a housing style, ramblers fuse modernist ideas with American West-period working ranches, resulting in an informal and casual living style.
Single story layout.
The original ramblers were one-story homes, although two-story versions (a.k.a. split levels) did come along a bit later. For people with painful joints or those who simply like everything to be easily accessible, a single story layout is the perfect solution. No stairs to climb or floors and ceilings to separate you from the goings-on.
Large windows let in tons of natural light.
Ramblers are known for their large windows. These are often, but not always, emphasized with shutters. The natural light that results is a definite bonus for rambler residents.
Vaulted ceilings lend a feeling of spaciousness.
Just because they are only a single story tall doesn’t mean ramblers feel cramped or squatty inside. In fact, quite the opposite is true. Ceilings tend to be high and vaulted, making the entire inside feel fresh and airy.
Seamless indoor-outdoor transitions.
The era of the rambler is also the era of bringing the outdoors inside, or taking your indoor life outside. Either way, one beautiful component of the rambler style house is its integration and combination of inside and outside.
Often located in established neighborhoods.
There’s something to be said for a tree-lined street, where the trees actually provide privacy and your next-door neighbors moved in in 1983 and haven’t looked back. A feeling of security, of permanence, of history exists in such a neighborhood. Because of their history, ramblers tend to congregate in just such a neighborhood.
Although the rambler home itself is decades old, they are modern in their infrastructure. This is a benefit because bits and pieces can be remodeled or replaced (e.g., heating/cooling systems, wiring, plumbing, windows, doors, etc.) as needed without damaging but rather enhancing the overall look and feel of the house itself.
Larger single-floor plan = smaller yard.
Although this varies based upon individual circumstance, the typical yard of an original rambler home is much smaller than its two-story counterpart, simply because the house itself has a larger footprint. If a large yard is important to you and your family, you might want to consider this disadvantage carefully.
Fewer options in floor plans.
Although ramblers started out with casual, open floor plans, the housing type in general adopted floors plans that were closer to builder homes than custom ones, which means floor plan options are not particularly flexible. This can be a disadvantage if you’re after an open concept floor plan or something else specific – most ramblers seem fairly compartmentalized by today’s standards. (Although, good news!, the dividing factors are rarely structural and can probably be easily removed.)
Less privacy with everything on one floor.
In a large family, or with a home office, or even when visitors come to stay, a rambler-style house tends to feel more exposed than those with some stairs and another level or two. There’s no place to “disappear to” for a while. What’s more, remember those large windows? One word: fishbowl.
Likely requires upgrades. Most homes built decades ago will require some upgrades; often, this can be a massive and expensive undertaking. There is a potential that your rambler will end up costing quite a bit of money and time to get it to where you want it.
RAMBLER STYLING TIPS:
Go with the mid-century modern flow.
Mid-century is a totally contemporary style right now, which means your house (which is likely legitimately part of the mid-century field) can be styled accordingly and maintain a hip, modern vibe. In fact, your rambler is the perfect backdrop for such a décor style.
Incorporate lots of wood. Wood pieces provide tons of warmth and depth to a space. Where natural light abounds, as it probably does in your rambler, wood is a perfect complementary force – keeping things grounded but also fresh.
Whether it be through funky art, bold and vibrant color, or uniquely shaped furniture, you’ll do your rambler a favor by incorporating just a touch of bright quirkiness into the décor. A rambler is casual, relaxed, and friendly by nature. Let your décor be a touch unexpected to communicate that as well.