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Boost the Curb Appeal of Your Ranch-style Home

As American as apple pie and baseball, the ranch-style home first appeared in the U.S. Sun Belt in the 1920s. Based on the design of the Spanish Colonial architecture of the Southwest from the 1600s to 1800s, the ranch-style homes of the 1900s were long, single-story residences that featured simple roofs and open-floor plans. Other elements common to a classic ranch-style home included an attached garage, simple exterior and trim, wide overhanging eaves, separate living and sleeping areas, eat-in kitchens and sliding glass doors that opened to a patio. The ranch-style home saw its peak between the 1940s and 1970s parallel to the rise of the economic middle class. The simplest-designed homes were built in the 1960s.

By the late 1970s, the ranch-style home had begun to lose popularity. One reason for this decline was the increasingly bland, cookie-cutter-type house plans that builders created to save on construction costs. In addition, rising land prices and the decreasing size of building lots led to the construction of more two-story homes.

The end of the 20th century saw a renewed interest in upgrading existing ranch-style homes. Younger buyers were attracted to their affordability, and older buyers were interested in the simple open-floor plan that's easy to get around for everyday tasks.

Classic ranch-style neighborhoods now feature mature trees and well-established infrastructure.

Whether your ranch-style home is of the 1950s type or the modern updated form, you can help it achieve its ultimate curb appeal by applying some of the following techniques:

Replace weather-worn wood siding with modern energy-efficient, durable, low-maintenance fiber cement or galvanized steel.

Consider a wrap-around porch to liven up the rectangular shape of a ranch-style home. Curved lines can also soften the rectangular-box image of a ranch-style home. Rounded garden beds filled with a variety of grasses, perennials and colorful annuals make the area more interesting. Instead of using right angles and straight edges, create a winding walkway of intricately-designed bricks, stones or concrete. Line with flowers to make the yard itself appear larger.

Make the most of a small front yard by creating a rock-bordered flower bed adjoined to the house. Aim for just a few plants, as too many can make the area look overcrowded.

Simple landscaping can also be the perfect balancing technique for a modern ranch-style house that features large, high windows. A single type of plant, such as a decorative grass, can be the perfect accent that contributes to the simplicity of a ranch-style home.

For a contemporary update, replace 1960s-style bay windows with French doors and balconies. Another great update idea is to replace mid-20th-century horizontal windows with modern vertical windows.

Dress up a small porch with decorative railing or line the steps with colorful potted plants. To extend your porch, build a taller roof or place an awning over it. Recessed lighting on the underside of the roof won't distract from the roof's attraction. Consider a wide, covered porch for a farmhouse look.

Update the roof of your ranch-style home with such accents as arches or gables.

As baby boomers age, they realize they might someday need handicapped-accessible features. The ranch-style home is perfect for this type of update.

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