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 homes are usually long and low with a bare minimum of interior and exterior decoration. The idea is to create a casual and informal lifestyle, usually with access to the outdoors via large plate glass windows, sliding glass doors, and patios or decks. Ranch style home plans normally imply a single story construction with a low and long roof line, with a cross- or side- gabled or hip roof.
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Exposed wooden or steel beams, flat roofs with large overhangs, and split levels to take advantage of the terrain, are also common accents associated with the contemporary style.