“Ranchtastic” is a word that I made up that describes the perfect 1950s ranch style house. There are a lot of them near here that aren’t just the standard cookie cutter. They sort of were - based on standard plans - but then highly customized with different exterior treatments (varying amounts of brick, stucco and wood, hip vs gable roofs, etc), the universal shake roof with optional accessories like little bird houses etc.
What are some of these details? Here are some of my favorites:
The X Door
I don’t know exactly what the style is called, but most of the houses have a type of door that is three fifths glass, two fifths wood panel. The glass in the upper section is either a tic tac toe grid of nine panes (which are often opaque) or a more elaborate panel of diamond shaped panes. Underneath is inset paneling in the shape of an “X”.
The Dutch Door
A Dutch Door is one where the top half opens independently of the bottom. I don’t have any practical use for this sort of thing myself - except maybe on hot days when you want to have the top half open to let air in without fully giving the impression that your house is open, but it’s such a great gimmick that it’s hard to resist.
The X Garage Door
Many of the houses that still have their original garage doors have this sort of design: a horizontal or vertical board pattern painted to match the house, with frame and X shaped cross boards through the middle painted in a contrasting color, like white. These look terrific, although usually this type of garage door is not automatic, and tends to slide from left to right, which isn’t all that practical.
Original 1950s Light Switches
I can go on for hours and hours about how certain switchgear in cars makes me feel good. Tactile feedback is important. Modern light switches tend to be that large 1″ wide plate kind that you can easily whack with your hand. The older kind from the 80s and 90s is a less satisfying mushy kind. Back in the 50s they knew how to do light switches. You know, the kind where you throw the switch and you can feel the metal underneath, and there’s a resounding ca-chunk as the switch closes the circuit.
Many of the 50s houses near here have their original oak floors, most of which have lived under carpet for the past half century.
A Little Streamline Moderne
In the early 50s, the last of art deco was just fading away, and many houses that still have their original single pane casement windows have a design that favors simple horizontal lines and wide glass panels.
A house’s street face should be more than just one texture, and those textural elements shouldn’t feel like they were thrown up after an afternoon at Home Depot. The right mix of materials like stucco (used sparingly), brick, wood plank (painted or stained) and cedar shake set the scene.
I have more, but these are what I can think of right now.