Ranch style typically consisted of a single story arranged in an asymmetrical L- or U-shape, but by the 1950's two-story and split-level (to accommodate building on hillsides) styles became popular. These homes are linear in shape and they invoke a horizontal line placed in the sites on which they are built. Exteriors usually have brick accents and featured large windows. A low, flat roof - slightly pitched, but still attempting to emphasize the horizontal orientation of the architecture - is also associated with this style; as well as attached house garage plans. Interiors are designed to capture an open and informal feel, with specific living zones - kitchen and dining room being a buffer zone between living and sleeping areas. The rear of the home features floor-to-ceiling picture windows and sliding glass doors to allow entrance to the outside. Building materials include wood paneled interiors; brick and wood cladding; and other natural materials like stone. Some ranch homes feature visible wooden rafters, terrazzo flooring (to promote radiant heating), built-in shelving and closets, and exterior details such as false shutters on the small, horizontal windows facing the street.
Because ranch home plans were built quickly and spread widely all across America, they are sometimes regarded as possessing little individual style. However, this building style became a key component in how Americans connected to and lived a comfortable, casual way of life which integrated the family car with the TV technologies which came into being during that time. Spaces were quite open, and built to serve multiple uses by the use of small, movable partitions or curtains. Kitchens were usually adjacent to the living areas, and there was a flow from garage to kitchen to dining area to living area to bedrooms. Living areas often had picture windows and sliding glass doors opening onto backyard patios. Nowadays ranch style homes are often custom-built, and feature large, floor-to-ceiling windows which slide on tracks to open the house up and extend the sense of home into the outdoors.
Ranch home designs have been extremely popular in the United States since the 1950's, and are as quintessentially American as jazz and cheeseburgers. A ranch home design typically is asymmetrical and low-slung, with a horizontal, spreading orientation in either a rectangular, U-, or L-shaped configuration. Roofs are gable or hipped with wide eaves. Ranch homes usually have attached garages and feature minimal ornamentation but they contain modern design elements such as large plate glass picture windows, sliding glass doors, and Formica countertops.