ARTICLE Persephone Nicholas 

Originally inspired by the 19th century ranchos and brick built adobes of America’s west and south-west, ranch-style homes with their long, low (single storey) profiles, open L-or U-shaped floor plans and emphasis on casual, outdoor living, have been popular in Australia since the 1990s. 

Ranches are less fashionable these days, but since they typically offer a reasonable amount of living space on a good-sized flat block and are generally oriented to make the most of the outdoor space, they can be an excellent buy for renovators.

If you are lucky enough to own, or be able to buy, a ranch style property, here are our tips for turning it into a place that feels like home:

Don’t skimp on surveys

Most ranch-style homes in Australia were built a few decades ago, so it makes sense to arrange a full building inspection to assess a property’s structural soundness before you commit to purchase.

An example of old ranch style home

Create kerb appeal

Once you’ve addressed any fundamental issues, you may want to think about how to add character to the exterior of your ranch. This style of home is often described as bland, but in fact their neutral character can be an advantage since it gives renovators a blank canvas to work on.

If you’re short of ideas, check out Pinterest and Houzz where you’ll find plenty of good-looking ranch style houses. Steal their style by analysing which aspects, for example paint colours and schemes, window styles or shutters, or landscaping, appeal to you and why. Then think about how you can use that inspiration in your own project.

If you plan to paint the exterior of your ranch, light coloured neutrals are a smart choice. They will make the home look more contemporary, offset fresh landscaping and boost its kerb appeal too.

Before you embark on a major landscape makeover consider what’s worth keeping from the existing planting. Mature trees are an asset providing they are not too close to the house. They help protect the home from extreme weather and add character (and value) to the streetscape as well as your property.

A lightening living room

Lighten up the space

Ranch-style homes are typically wide and low, which means they can seem dark.  The most effective ranch renovations address this issue and can even turn a negative into a positive. For example, opening up the interior ceilings into the roof space and creating a vaulted ceiling will make the home seem lighter and larger, particularly if the timber is painted in pale tones.

Bring even more light into the house by opening up the floor plan and installing skylights (which allow much more light into a home than conventional vertical windows), more or larger windows and bi-fold doors to the outdoors. 

Installing plenty of ambient, task and mood lighting throughout will help banish any remaining dark corners.

Update interiors

Ensuring you have the same flooring throughout, particularly in a lighter shade will enhance the feeling of space. If you love the look of wood, engineered timber flooring costs less than hardwood and can be a good choice if you’re renovating your family home and expect to live there for years to come. Choose one that is thick enough to be re-sanded when it starts to look worn. 

If you’re renovating for profit, laminate or vinyl are relatively simple to install and are good value for money. 

When it comes to kitchens, let as much light in as possible and create a clean, airy feel with lighter toned cabinetry and finishes. If you have the luxury of space, consider choosing floating shelves rather than upper cabinets – it will make the room feel more open and allow you to display favourite cookbooks and kitchenware.

Bathrooms too should be as light and spacious as possible. Try and ensure these hard-working rooms benefit from as much natural light as possible (skylights could work well here) and use generously-sized mirrors to make the most of it.

A lightening bathroom

Create a more sustainable home

Undertaking major updates is a great opportunity to make your home more sustainable. For example, you might want to consider installing a rainwater tank, prioritising energy-efficient appliances and/or opting for more effective insulation.  

Visit The Australian Government’s website, YourHome for more information and ideas for renovators on how to create a comfortable home that has a low impact on the environment and is economical to run, healthier to live in and adaptable to changing needs. 

Making more sustainable choices when you renovate can help save you money on energy and water bills and may also increase your property’s value in the eyes of potential buyers.

You might interested in reading about the Top 5 renovation pitfalls.

Get in touch with Refresh to discuss your home renovation project

If you would like to discuss home renovation options for your next renovation project, please use the enquiry form on this page to provide us with your contact details. We will get in touch with you at a time that suits you to discuss your project. If you would like to provide us with more information about your project, we have a more comprehensive enquiry form on our "Get in touch" page too.

*All information is believed to be true at time of publishing and is subject to change.

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