Ranch Style Homes

Oster Area Ranch Style HomeLove it or hate it, you can’t escape it: the Ranch.

By far the most abundant architectural style among Silicon Valley homes is the ranch. A recent resurgence in interest in this unique and pervasive house design suggest it is regaining popularity, and there are plenty of reasons to love it! Here we’ll take a peek at the history, how to identify, and the function behind the ranch design. Ready to meet America’s dream home?

New modern ranch homes for town or country living by the National Plan Service, Inc (1956) on Archive.org

by the National Plan Service, Inc (1956) on Archive.org – Click to see

Back on the Ranch: A Brief History

In the early 1930s, San Diego designer Cliff May took the architectural world by storm with his spin on the Spanish colonial revival home. Inspired by adobe ranchos and modern design with an emphasis on comfortable California living, May developed this unique style. This soon evolved into the quintessential California ranch style.

It’s no surprise that the ranch has come to be known as a suburban style. Its popularity was widespread during the booming post-war years through the 1970s, peaking in the 1950s with ranch homes accounting for as many as 9 out of 10 new homes! (Witold Rybczynski, p 207)

Having saturated the market for decades, and with buyers wanting bigger homes, the market shifted away from building the sprawling single-story ranch in the later decades of the 20th century. Still the design retained popularity in the resale market. With more ranch homes celebrating their golden jubilee (some of the earliest are approaching 90) and some gaining historic designations there has been a renewed interest in ranch architecture over the last decade or so.

Design Elements

 “Today, almost any house that provides for an informal type of living and is not definitely marked by unmistakable style symbols is called a ranch house.” (Sunset Western Ranch Houses (1946), IX – 1946).

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Spanish Style Homes

Spanish house on Ayer - Vendome

A home with many Spanish style elements on Ayer Ave in the Vendome district of San Jose near Japantown.

Curved terra cotta tile roofs and pale stucco walls, these are the tell-tale signs you’re looking at a Spanish style house! But what is a Spanish style home?

What makes a house a Spanish style home?

There are actually a number of more specific designs that might fall under this umbrella term. Some of these include Mission or California Mission Revival, Mediterranean Revival, Moorish Revival, Territorial or Territorial Revival, Pueblo Deco, Monterey Colonial, Colonial Californiano, and Mexican Style, but most frequently the term “Spanish Style” is used to describe the Spanish Eclectic or Spanish Colonial Revival architecture. We’ll focus on these last two as they are the most widely found designs and most of the Spanish style homes in the South Bay fall into at least one of these two categories.

Before we jump in any further, there’s a lot we can learn from these names. Revival styles draw on the look of a past era, which in this case is the Spanish colonial-era architecture of the far and south west found in historic adobes and the missions. This architecture is a reimagining, not a reproduction, of something vintage through a contemporary form. These are “eclectic” styles because the architecture does not follow any strict rules of design. Instead, it combines features of various styles, replacing or mixing elements for taste and functionality to become a kind of hybrid design.

What does this mean for the average homebuyer / homeowner?

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What sells? An infographic from the National Association of Realtors

The infographic below is from my trade organization, the National Association of Realtors.  The statistics are, naturally, national.  What I tell my home buyers is that it’s imperative to look for something with “enduring value” like a short commute, good schools, or both.  But enjoying a nice view or attractive architecture is also enduring.  Check out the national trends.  Do any of these surprise you?

 

Why types of homes sell best?