The ranch-style home originally was designed to be both affordable and fitting of the minimalist needs of Depression-era families. This bland home style with low-pitched roofs and closed-off interior rooms proliferated across the U.S. in the 1950s and continues to perplex homeowners who want to remodel. “I would say that half of the houses I look at have this basic design and its inherent limitations,” says Robert Kauffman, principal at Kauffman Design (www.kauffmandesign.com). “These homeowners are hungry for ideas.” In hopes of alleviating some of the frustration, here are four Atlanta area remodeling projects that feature imaginative updates for ranch homes.
Remodel by: Axios Architecture (www.axiosarchitecture.com)
Location: Briarcliff Woods/Sagamore neighborhood near Emory
Homeowner’s woes and wants: When planning a remodel of his own ranch home, Steve Robinson, principal at Axios Architecture, sought to create a better space, not merely more space. The 2,100 square-foot main level was adequate for his family’s needs but had no flow, a closed layout and a kitchen that was totally separated from all of the living areas.
Rehab: The addition of just 60 square feet to the kitchen proves a little can go a long way. The glass-and-stucco structure seamlessly attaches to the back of the house, significantly changing the exterior architecture. The large amounts of glass and bright chartreuse color add contemporary contrast and dimension to the ranch home.
Inside, the new design opened up all of the main rooms into a suite of distinct yet interconnected spaces. Robinson believes that many ranch remodels create too much openness, resulting in the loss of character, so he focused on creating a charming, layered space. He raised the ceiling in the family room and kitchen area, while keeping the living room ceiling at eight feet. Part of the kitchen ceiling was lowered by only four inches, but the effect is dramatic: The lowered ceiling forms a floating horizontal plane above a custom-built banquette and terminates as a projecting “trellis” overhang outside the rear addition.
The remodel also addressed another exterior problem. Originally, an elevated terrace blocked the view from the family room to the lower backyard. Robinson’s solution was to turn part of the terrace into a brick planter and install steps from the back door to a lower patio that provides an outdoor living space and increases the indoor/outdoor
Remodel by: Home ReBuilders (www.homerebuilders.com)
Location: Near Moores Mill Road in Northwest Atlanta
Homeowner’s woes and wants: The Page family was looking for a completely new design that would transform their horizontal ranch into a modern, airy, interesting home that expresses their personalities, presents their art and provides a venue to entertain.
Rehab: To make the whole house more dynamic, Home ReBuilders raised its roof pitch, introduced front dormers, created a family room addition with oversized windows and pulled a covered porch across the front. These changes raised the vertical profile of the home, allowing Home ReBuilders to anchor it with vaulted 20-foot ceilings in the family room and billiard room and include 10-foot tray ceilings in the foyer and dining room for a more open feel. To help bring light deeper into the home, Home ReBuilders replaced the front windows with five segmented bay windows, matching oversized vertical windows and a pair of French doors with transoms. Contemporary interior finishes highlight the family’s artwork and design style, while a mix of cedar shingles, stone and brick adds visual interest to the traditional exterior.
Remodel by: Kauffman Design (www.kauffmandesign.com)
Location: Indian Hills in Marietta
Homeowner’s woes and wants: The owners of this ranch-style home had lived there 35 years and were eager to break out of its straight lines and dark layout. Having already added a sizable addition and finished part of the basement some years before, they needed some new ideas to achieve their goals for the space.
Rehab: Kauffman Design’s job was to bring in more natural light and integrate the new kitchen with the surrounding living spaces. To give the home individuality—something often lacking in traditional ranches—Kauffman added triangular clearstory windows at the front and a wall of windows at the rear, bringing in natural light and a connection to the outdoors (also often lacking in original ranches). The addition of an expansive cathedral ceiling in the family room enhances the open feel.
Another aspect of the project was remodeling the entire kitchen to modernize its old, sixties-style tile floors, wood cabinets and countertops. The new kitchen, which opens to the adjacent dining area and family room, features granite countertops, dark-finished cabinetry, pendant and recessed lighting, stainless steel appliances, hardwood floors and a breakfast bar.
Remodel by: Splice Design (www.splice-design.com), architect, and Sensible Home Solutions of GA, LLC (www.shsga.com), builder
Location: Sandy Springs
Homeowner’s woes and wants: The Hosch family bought a ranch home that had already been partially modified in the late nineties, adding a vaulted family room and large master suite to the rear of the home. As a young couple with a growing family, the homeowners needed more bedrooms, play areas for the kids separate from the main living spaces, a new home office, exercise room, laundry room and lots of storage space.
Rehab: To help fulfill the Hosches’ vision, Splice Design and Sensible Home Solutions of GA added 1,900 square feet to the home, including a second story over the original ranch footprint, leaving the vaulted addition untouched. At the homeowner’s request to “blend in” with their neighborhood, which is filled with ranch-style homes, the architect and builder added a steeply pitched roof that conceals the second story, giving the home more of a story-and-a-half look than a full two-story massing.
The Colonial exterior was transformed with Cape Cod shingle and bungalow elements more consistent with the new massing and the homeowner’s style. Garage doors—uncommon in a traditional ranch—were added to the carport. The original laundry room, which had been only accessible through the exterior carport, was enlarged by incorporating an adjacent storage area, and a new entry sequence was created that goes through the laundry/mud room, past a new powder room and into the new stair hallway before entering the kitchen. The original side door at the kitchen was removed, which allowed space for a new walk-in pantry.
Upstairs, the steeply pitched roof yields large, open spaces with an expansive feel and allows for storage under the framing. The additions include two bedrooms (one serves as a home office), one full bath, a large family/entertainment area and an exercise room over the original carport.
5 Top Ranch Home Improvements
1 A more open floor plan.
How it’s done:
By opening up the central bearing wall between opposing rooms.
2 More light.
How it’s done:
By lifting the ceiling in some rooms (either cathedral into the existing attic or lifting the roof), adding skylights, patio doors, larger windows, etc.
3 More space.
How it’s done:
Often by finishing the basement, building an addition or expanding into a second floor.
4 Kitchen joined with the family room.
How it’s done:
By building an addition or repositioning interior walls.
5 A more efficient laundry.
How it’s done:
By building out the laundry space and connecting it better with the interior of the home.
—Robert Kauffman, principal, Kauffman Design