For The Love of Remodeling Ranch-Style Houses

Don't These Homes Deserve a Little Love?

Split Level Ranch Style House Mid-Century Modern
Split Level Ranch Style House Mid-Century Modern. Getty / H. Armstrong Roberts/ClassicStock

Years ago, if you wanted to renovate your house in a historically accurate way, it was almost required that your house be either a Victorian or a Craftsman-style house.

The golden years of the TV show This Old House illustrate this perfectly. Bob and Norm renovating old houses--that is, old Victorian houses. Bob and Norm in flannel shirts. Old Victorians in Massachusetts that normal people could never afford.

And that's even before This Old House jumped the shark and started renovating actual museum-pieces that have no bearing on reality.

Where does that leave the rest of us folks in our Fifties- and Sixties-era ranch-style homes? Renovation-less? In the past few years, normal mortgage-carrying people have begun renovating their ranch houses, resisting the urge to turn them into McMansions.

There's a great blog called Retro Renovation, run by Pam Kueber, which covers houses from the 1920s to 1970s. But most of the houses are in that golden era, from Post-War to early Seventies.

An accurate ranch-house renovation isn't for everyone. It means keeping a lot of the things that us today have long outgrown. Here are some things you might like and dislike about doing a historically accurate ranch-house renovation.


  • Those pleasant horizontals.
  • Fieldstone. Brick touches.
  • Lava rock fireplaces.
  • Medal next to doorbell, urging you to "Live Better Electrically" because this is a "Gold Medallion Home".
  • Yard and more yard.
  • Garage. Always a garage, because the car was king in this era.


  • Flat roofs (prone to leaking).
  • Hollow core doors (don't block sound).
  • Low ceilings (feeling a little claustrophobic?).
  • Wall to wall carpeting (acres of carpeting--no wood floors at all?).
  • Aluminum framed windows (cold to the touch).
  • And dare we leave this one out: popcorn ceilings (possibly containing asbestos; definitely ugly).