Your Perfect Mid-century Front Door at 3 Easy Levels

11 min read Mid-century modern is so in right now, people are popping neutra type house numbers and modbox mailboxes onto just about any house type.

You are in luck, Ranch Owner, because the mid-century front door was made for your house.  I’ll break down how you can get or make your own perfect Mid-Century front door whether you are simply aiming for a spin through Etsy or planning major renovation.

Continue reading “Your Perfect Mid-century Front Door at 3 Easy Levels”

Fake Shutters are the absolute worst

3 min read Shutters once had a real function.  They were a security measure, a way to close up houses safely at night or when the occupants were away. But they serve no purpose on a modern house. Please don’t glue fake shutters to your siding!!!

So here’s the thing.  Almost nothing makes me eye-roll harder in recent, residential design than badly-deployed fake shutters.  Fake shutters on ranches are even more irritating: not only don’t they work properly, they contradict the mid mod aesthetic!

Continue reading “Fake Shutters are the absolute worst”

Midcentury Style Frames Storytelling in Hidden Figures

7 min read Today, a breakdown of the Midcentury Modern style – both at NASA and at home – in one of my favorite recent movies: Hidden Figures.

I just re-watched Hidden Figures.  It is a fantastic movie that checks all my boxes: painful-but-inspiring untold underdog history about nerd girls who are determined to show everyone what they can do.  Plus, it is beautifully shot with a fantastic soundtrack and some really great acting. What more could I ask?

If you haven’t seen it yet, stop reading this blog post and go stream it RIGHT NOW.  Continue reading “Midcentury Style Frames Storytelling in Hidden Figures”

Internet “MidMod” kitchens are more Modern than Midcentury

5 min read The definition of a true MCM kitchen is not the laminate counter tops and pastel appliances.  You can recognize a classic ranch kitchen by its layout and by the driving philosophy behind it.

I recently came across a list post of gorgeous midcentury modern kitchens to emulate.  As I scrolled, I realized they had one thing in common – clearly none of them were actually midcentury kitchens.  So today I’d like to break down the differences between a kitchen built in the midcentury era, and those done in a midcentury style, now.  Continue reading “Internet “MidMod” kitchens are more Modern than Midcentury”

Three places to find more space in your house without adding on!

3 min read You can remodel your home and substantially increase your living area without adding on a single square foot!  Staying within your existing footprint is easier, cheaper and more sustainable. 

Every little bit helps.  You can avoid adding to the impermeable surfaces of the world by remodeling within your existing building footprint rather than building new OR expanding beyond the current boundaries.  Look around the house for space you already have.  This is the low hanging fruit in any remodel by measures of speed, difficulty, return on investment, and baseline cost.  Continue reading “Three places to find more space in your house without adding on!”

What came before: The Bungalow and Ranch Side by Side

6 min read Today I consider the similarities and differences between two closely related building types, the Chicago Bungalow and the Midwestern Ranch. What can one teach about the other?

These two building types are very closely related.  Specifically, the Chicago Bungalow is very closely related to the Midwestern or “tract” Ranch.  They each share an older  California cousin which features more variation, more drama and was originally designed as one-offs by architects.  They are similar in square footage, in class and in initial cost. Their differences are useful in highlighting the modernism and innovations of the ranch type.  Let’s look more closely!  Continue reading “What came before: The Bungalow and Ranch Side by Side”

The Six Major Elements of (Nearly) Every Entry

4 min read The components elements of an American house entry are fairly consistent, country or city, large or small.  Ranch entries are even more consistent: Door, Lights, Mailbox, House numbers, Wall and Overhang.  If you have your own door (and maybe even if you don’t) you have most of these to play with.

You probably have the ability to fix up each and every one of them (except the overhang) in a weekend project.  Here are a couple overarching ideas to bear in mind when you go to work.  Continue reading “The Six Major Elements of (Nearly) Every Entry”

An “L” of an opportunity: Adding on To your Ranch

2 min read It is relatively easy to put an addition on to a ranch style house.  In fact, they were designed with just that idea in mind. 

If you need more space in your ranch house, I highly recommend looking around for it inside the existing walls first.  If any portion of your basement is un-finished, if your kitchen is fully closed off from the house or if you have a three season room connecting your house to the garage, any of those spaces should be your first move in a remodel.  Continue reading “An “L” of an opportunity: Adding on To your Ranch”

Cliff May and the Origins of the Ranch House

3 min read Cliff May was an artist: a saxophone player turned furniture designer who inspired a modern housing movement. Today I meditate on his 1946 style book, Western Ranch Houses.

For my birthday, I took a break from scraping and re-painting from precariously balanced ladder platforms … just kidding, I was up and painting on the platform at 7am.  However I did STOP at 8:15 when I hit the milestone of getting the second coat of paint on all the area that needs a ladder jack platform to reach.  Then I took the rest of the day off from manual labor.  Instead went down to campus to the Kohler Art Library to (metaphorically) check out Cliff May’s 1946 Sunset Western Ranch Houses.  Continue reading “Cliff May and the Origins of the Ranch House”

Basement: the Midwestern Ranch House’s Secret Weapon

3 min read A basement is the secret weapon of the midwestern ranch house.

(This is one clear advantage we have over all those cool, glassy California Pinterest ranches.

Upper midwestern basements secretly expand square footage, storage and differentiation of spaces all without bulking up the house to the street or eating up the building site.

Sure, basements CAN be your extraneous junk space.  They CAN be your quick and dirty work out or project space.  But they they COULD be the inner sanctum – the most private and cosy spot in the house, insulated from temperature, sound and other people’s view.   The secret of an effective basement is not to treat it like part of your home, not a second class space. Continue reading “Basement: the Midwestern Ranch House’s Secret Weapon”