The Difference between Cape Cod and Ranch Home Styles

Posted June 26, 2019

A one level house style is often considered the perfect home layout. Why? Building a one level house can be like getting married; hopefully, you’ll be in it for many years to come. If you plan to build a two- or three-story house and live in it for 50 years or more, you will want to consider how you will navigate the upper levels of the house when you are in your eighties. It’s a fact of life that stair will be a factor when you areolder.

Popular a one level house includes styles like Cape Cod and Ranch. In this article, we go into detail on the features and characteristics of Cape Cod and Ranch home styles and their differences.

Cape Cod House Style

With its simple, yet attractive design, the Cape Cod house style is among the most prevalent and enduring style of home in the US. Characterized by a symmetrical facade, rectangular footprint, wood shingles and a steep but low roof, Cape Cod homes represent a genuinely American design that has stood the test of time, from the colonial era of New England to the modern day.

The Cape Cod style originated in New England in the 17th century when colonialists brought their British building techniques and modified them to suit the harsh weather they encountered. A rectangular footprint made  construction easy and allowed for additions later on; wood shingles didn't require painting, the steep low-lying roof helped in shedding excess snow, while low ceilings along with a central chimney provided much-needed heat during cold winters. The modest houses that emerged were as practical as they were strong.

Cape Cod houses were generally one to one-and-a-half stories. The interior featured a central living room with a massive hearth at the center. Around this time, smaller versions of the current full Cape (which has a central front door sandwiched between two sets of windows) were common, alongside three quarter and half Capes.

Defining Features of Cape Cod Home Style Include:

  • Symmetrical facade with a central front door
  • Steep but low roof with side gables
  • Few if any decorations and shingle siding
  • Double-hung windows with shutters
  • Large open plan living room and hearth
  • Low lying ceiling and a central chimney
  • One to one and a half stories
Ranch Home Style

Ranches are simple one-story houses with ground-level profiles that emphasize on the horizontal rather than the vertical. Finished with low-lying roofs and wide overhanging eaves, they mostly have a U- or L- shaped layout. Like most mid-century homes, ranches emphasize on connecting the indoor and the outdoor. The houses are low-to-the-ground, so you don't even have to step on a porch to be outside.

Two of its most common features are a sliding glass door that leads to the back patio and a large window on the front of the house that typically gives you a view of the living room. Ranch homes are built simply, which means homeowners have an option to customize its finishes with modern or traditional designs. But overall, the emphasis on a modern, but casual living area with an open kitchen and an attached garage is widely appealing.

Defining Features of Ranch Home Style Include:
  • Long, low rooflines
  • Wide overhanging eaves
  • Huge windows
  • Sliding glass doors
  • Simple decorations
  • Open plan living areas
  • Single story residential design
  • Attached garages and back patio
  • A mixture of materials outside including brick, wood, stone, and concrete
Now that you've learned more about Cape Cod and ranch home styles, you can make a more informed decision when you build your dream home. Remember that the easiest houses to maintain and even add to are ranch homes, which is why they are the most popular residential style today.

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