How to Decorate a Ranch Style House - Part One
So You Bought A Ranch Style Home
When you buy a ranch style house, it may seem as though there are few opportunities for making it your own. A lot of the times, ranch homes are single level constructions with open concept designs. Ranch Homes were popular family homes in the 50's - 70's and many of these same homes are still standing today.
My family's home search journey was likely the same as many others who have purchased their first home. My husband and I wanted a big enough space for ourselves and our young son, with some room to grow. After reviewing several houses, we found a huge, one level ranch style home on two acres of land in the town of our dreams. The price was incredibly reasonable and something about this ranch style house, just felt like home.
So we went ahead with the purchase. As we waited for our move in date, I began deciding how to update our new ranch home. The layout is excellent as it is entirely open concept (as are many ranch homes) and has almost 1800 sq ft of space. Being an older ranch home, the interior and exterior was a little bit "tired". I poured through home décor magazine after home décor magazine, but there was really nothing dedicated to ranch homes. All of the home décor tips seemed geared to the "McMansions" set. So I decided to get creative with decorating our ranch style home - bringing me to my first ranch home décor tip: There ARE numerous, creative, fun, amazing ways to decorate your ranch style house! Excellent design and artful décor is NOT limited to McMansions, Victorians, Colonials, etc. Decorating a ranch style home is fun and exciting...it's a unique challenge, but when you're complete, you most likely will have a home that's unlike ANY one else's.
Crowell Family Ranch House
One of the first interior décor "challenges" that we noticed in our ranch style home was outdated paint. In your ranch home, you may also have dated wall paper, (dreaded) panel board, or a combination of all three.
Don't be discouraged! Remember, paint, wall paper, etc are EASY fixes! In fact, changing wall coverings is relatively inexpensive and a not a hugely time intensive project.
The very first thing I recommend for painting/wall papering the interior of your ranch home is to forget convention. Just because you have a traditional, ranch style home, does NOT mean you have to adhere to "traditional" or bland colors (unless you absolutely LOVE traditional colors - in that case...go for it honey!) Next - think about WHO you are. What's your style? What words best describe your family? Are you young and vibrant? Are you laid back and peaceful? What emotions feel the most at-home for you and your family? It's important to ask yourself these kinds of questions, because the answers will help guide you to a color palette that truly fits your family and your lifestyle. If you're part of a high energy, highly spirited lot, you may want your home to reflect that lifestyle with vibrant hues in the common areas. If you're part of a laid back household, perhaps you'll find that you crave a quiet, relaxing space and will gravitate towards soft, muted colors.
For myself, I consider my family to be young, energetic and fun. When I thought about colors that would fit us best, I thought of a wide range of vibrant paints. Bright Green, Pumpkin Spice Orange, Rich Terra Cotta, Exotic Blues are all colors that I wanted to use in my home. For me, this meant having to basically paint the entire house - as you'll see in the before pics, my ranch style home was formally painted in shades of brown. I've posted before and after pics of every room we painted. Feel free to check them out for ideas and inspiration!
Another item you should consider is the texture of your paints. This was something I ended up spending a lot of my thought on and it was a source of heated debate with family members, my husband...and even the paint guys at Lowes. In order to create definition in each room and really give each room in my ranch home it's own feel, I played with the paint textures - and I didn't play by the rules. Yes, a couple of my ceilings are HIGH GLOSS. And I didn't choose "ceiling white" for their colors either. I also (gasp!) painted a rather small room a gorgeous (but on the darker side) pumpkin spice - in high gloss finish, with a satin finish ceiling. It's stunning! The point? When decorating your ranch style home, YOU and YOU only make the rules. And that comes to paint finishes. Just because you have a ranch home, doesn't mean your home can't have luxurious features like high gloss ceilings in the master bedroom. Screw convention and make your ranch home SHINE!
Once you have an understanding of the overall tone you want to achieve with the colors in your ranch style home, start searching for the perfect colors and finishes. I just went to Home Depot, Lowes, and Sherwin Williams and grabbed tons and tons of paint samples. They all have numerous paint guides as well, that I found really helpful - even more helpful? All of these guides are FREE. Just look in the paint section at your hardware store and have fun going through all of the color schemes. It also helps to consult home décor magazines. The hands down most helpful magazine for me was House Beautiful. I learned SO many amazing tips and ideas from this magazine. Even their website is awesome (and FREE!). They don't have many tips that are specific to ranch style homes, but many of their ideas work wonderfully for ranches.
A quick note on wall paper - Wall Paper is actually having a moment again right now. I don't have any up in my ranch home yet, but I fully plan on incorporating it into the décor very soon. It feels like having wall paper kind of pays a bit of homage to the ranch home's history. Modern wall paper is incredible! There are so many styles and textures available right now too...it's definitely not your grandma's wall paper out there. And don't forget wall decals! There are so many ways to have fun with wall paper and/or wall decals in your ranch style home. Here's how I'm dying to use them: Wall Paper a Ceiling (making sure to choose a design that only makes sense vertically/horizontally). This would be so unexpected and cool in a hallway or even a master bedroom; Wall Paper a hallway in a cool texture. Felt, Faux Suede, Mirrors!!! Ranch style hallways can feel closed off and drab - but with these new wall papers they don't have to be anymore.
Stay tuned for How to Decorate a Ranch Style Home Part Two, where I'll be discussing how to install carpet and how to install peal and stick tile yourself!