The basic idea behind the ranch style is that the major room areas in the house flow one into the other, rather than being small divided-up spaces as in other architectural styles. The access from the attached garage flows into the kitchen, to the dining area, to the living area, and to the bedrooms. The feeling of a ranch style house is one of openness and sweeping - sweeping vistas of the out-of-doors through picture windows and sliding glass panels, which open onto patios or porches where much summer living takes place.
But the difference between classical and contemporary architecture is that few of the traditional building and ornamentation methods are still being used, since modern architecture has integrated modern technology by embracing new methods of building, new materials, and an accent on functionality rather than embellishment. For example, one common feature in contemporary architecture is the mixture of stone, wood, and brick wall materials on the same surface.
Also characteristic of the ranch style are open floor plans which permit rooms to serve multiple purposes. Ranch style houses frequently include separate family, living, and dining areas which can be converted as needed into entertaining or hobby areas, or into extra bedrooms when required. Although a single level ranch house plan with front porch or patio is the norm, there are also split level ranch houses and raised ranch houses which have more than one level of space.
The prevailing trends in what is considered architecturally beautiful are slowly changing as more sustainable buildings are erected. The use of local building materials to reduce transportation costs and providing a greater degree of opacity to enhance energy conservation in cladding materials, are some of the criteria of design which are changing the appearance of buildings.