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.
Ranch style architecture originated in the United States in the 1920's, and it became very popular after World War II as cities expanded into suburbs and inexpensive tract homes were needed by a growing populace. Ranch style houses are most popular where land is inexpensive and the weather is mild, since these homes particularly lend themselves to outdoor living. The low, earth hugging look with clean, modern lines of the ranch style is derived from Frank Lloyd Wright's prairie style architecture.
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.
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.
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