Rambler House Architecture Prepares For A Second Act
Rambler House Architecture Prepares For A Second Act
May 24, 2024 6:25 PM

A rambler house is more than a home design style. Original rambler homes built in the 40s and 50s are still standing. The homes serve as mini-museums for past suburban architecture, or they’ve been replaced by ranch-style homes.

Rambler House

However, rambler homes could be making a comeback. A report from the Joint Center for Housing Studies (JCHS) at Harvard University discovered that rambler homes aren’t as expensive to build as once believed.

According to the study, cost savings are not guaranteed with smaller home construction. After land and other costs are factored in, a possibility exists that small home construction is only a little cheaper than building larger homes on the same land. Surprisingly, the cost disparities between the housing styles aren’t as far from each other as people believed.

After a decades-long hiatus, the rambler home has proven that not only is it here to stay, but it is waking up from its deep sleep and stretching its wings. If you find yourself attracted to the style and would like to know more about them, read on.

What Is A Rambler Home?

rambler house

A rambler, now known as a ranch-style house, is a domestic home style that originated in the US in the 20s. The house design became popular between the 40s and 70s.

Defining characteristics of rambler homes include long, low profile, and minimal exterior and interior decoration. As a housing style, ramblers blend modernist ideas with American West ranch styles, resulting in a blend of informal and casual living.

Benefits Of A Rambler Home

Here, we’ll show you a few benefits of the rambler home. Each example is unique and illustrates the redeeming qualities of architectural style.

Single Story Layout

rambler house

The original ramblers were one-story homes. Later, split-level versions emerged. A single story floor plan is ideal for those suffering from physical injuries. Although the floor layout may not be a silver bullet solution, it is more convenient than multiple-story home styles. After all, stairs are a hazard for the elderly and toddlers.

Large Windows

rambler house

Another signature touch of rambler homes is large windows. The windows are emphasized with board and batten shutters. However, the natural light augments the home’s interior spaces.

Vaulted Ceilings

Just because a rambler is a single story structure, it doesn’t mean they have limited space or offers a cramped environment. Rambler homes have high and vaulted ceilings, making the interior feel fresh and airy.

Indoor Outdoor Transitions

rambler house

The rambler movement connected outdoor spaces with indoor spaces. Either way, today, a striking characteristic of the rambler house is how it seamlessly integrates indoor and outdoor spaces.


rambler house

There’s something about a tree-lined street, as trees provide privacy. A feeling of security, permanence, and history, exists in such a neighborhood. Because of their history, ramblers tend to congregate in similar neighborhoods.

Easily Upgraded

rambler house

Although the rambler home itself is decades old, they are modern in their infrastructure. This is a benefit because bits and pieces can be remodeled or replaced (e.g., heating/cooling systems, wiring, plumbing, windows, doors, etc.) as needed without damaging but rather enhancing the overall look and feel of the house itself.

Rambler Home Drawbacks

Nothing is perfect, including home architecture and design. Although a wonderful concept, rambler homes have a few negative aspects.

Small Outdoor Space

rambler house

Although this varies based on individual circumstances, the typical yard of an original rambler home is much smaller than its two-story counterpart, simply because the house itself has a larger footprint.

If a large yard is important to you and your family, you might want to consider this disadvantage.

Limited Floor Plan

rambler house

Although ramblers started out with casual, open floor plans, the housing type adopted floor plans that were closer to builder homes than custom ones, making floor plan options less versatile.

Less Privacy

rambler house

With large families, or a home office, when visitors arrive, a rambler-style house feels exposed and open. Without a second level or stairs, for some, open space makes them feel less protected.

Casual Living Style

rambler house

Likely requires upgrades. Most homes built decades ago will require some upgrades; often, this can be a massive and expensive undertaking. There is the potential your rambler will end up costing quite a bit of money and time to get it to where you want it.

Rambler House Style Ideas

Rambler homes have open spaces that are often a dream for designers and decorators. Interior design expert, Claire Costello said, You have the simple palette of neutral color, stone, and wood, but you can really differentiate the scale, texture, and interest from room to room by changing the geometries.”

Here are a few rambler style examples that exemplify Costello’s sentiment and showcase the home style’s potential.

Mid-Century Modern

rambler house

Mid-century are contemporary style homes. Your house can have a hip, modern vibe. With a rambler home, it’s the perfect backdrop for cool decor.

Exposed Beams

rambler house

Incorporate plenty of wood and don’t hesitate to take advantage of your ceiling’s exposed beams. Wood pieces provide warmth and depth to a space. Where natural light abounds, as it does in your rambler, wood is a perfect complementary force – keeping things grounded but also fresh.

Natural Light

rambler house

Whether it be through funky art, bold and vibrant color, or uniquely shaped furniture, you’ll do your rambler a favor by incorporating just a touch of bright quirkiness into the décor. A rambler is casual, relaxed, and friendly by nature. Let your décor be a touch unexpected to communicate that as well.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)FAQ

What Makes A House A Rambler?

Rambler homes are shaped like a square or rectangle, have only one story, and low-pitched gable roofs.

Why Are Rambler Homes Expensive?

Rambler homes cost more to build because they require twice as much land due to their single-story layout. A two-story house is cheaper because it requires less land and has a smaller roof. A rambler home needs almost twice as many materials to build and a bigger foundation.

What Type Of Windows Are Best For Rambler Homes?

The most popular rambler home windows are double or single-hung windows. Casement windows were originally installed in rambler homes but later replaced. Those who wish to return to their home’s original casement or awning window style would recreate its authentic look.

What Type Of Front Door Is Best For A Rambler?

If you want an entryway that offers a seamless connection to your outdoor and indoor spaces, sliding glass doors would be the sunken hidden treasure.

What Is A Typical Rambler House Floor Plan?

Rambler homes have wide-open floor plans. The home layout is divided into two sections, with one side designated as a living wing and the other a sleeping wing.

Rambler House Conclusion

Demand for ranch style houses has made the rambler home a suburban artifact. This doesn’t mean you can’t have a rambler home, but it would be more challenging to build one than a ranch style home.

If you have an original rambler style home, do everything you can to preserve it. Rambler houses are living museums that represent an America that has since moved on and has no plans of returning. If you want to remodel your rambler home, think about it before you do anything. As the saying goes, “if it’s not broken, then don’t fix it.”

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