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The Case for One-Story Floor Plans (Especially Ranch Homes)

The Case for One-Story Floor Plans (Especially Ranch Homes)
This design sports an open floor plan.
Turn on any home design show on television: I bet within five minutes you'll hear "open layout" or "open concept floor plan" uttered by the hopeful home seekers as their must-have feature. A big kitchen (especially one with an island) probably gets mentioned as often.

Open floor plans have become the new norm. Unlike other, more ephemeral trends (think shag carpeting or popcorn ceilings) it's not likely to go out of fashion anytime soon. Why? Because our lives look fundamentally different than decades ago when formal living rooms and closed-off kitchens reigned supreme.

Think back to when you were growing up. Did your mother (or maybe your grandmother) put all of the good china and fancy furniture in the living room where no one set foot except on holidays? Wasn't that, well, kind of a waste of space? Nowadays, we expect rooms to be used for many purposes, especially when budgets must stretch and every square foot matters.

Today's open floor plans aren't just a reflection of busy lifestyles. As cooking becomes a hobby, not just a chore, the kitchen morphs into a theater of sorts, where our friends watch us put together dinner, and where everyone really gathers to eat. Plan 928-11 (above) from Visbeen Architects creates a casual vibe with a tall round table that reminds one of a gastropub.

Ranch house plans also have become popular. A quick note about the ranch designation: style sticklers use it to describe a particular wide and low form (like plan 888-4 above) that proliferated in the middle of the 20th century, but many people today use it simply to describe any one-story house design. However you define it, a ranch home makes it easier to age in place, since you have fewer stairs to navigate and all living spaces sit on one level. If you're moving into a phase of your life (such as retirement) where you want to stay put for a long time, a one-story home just makes everything easier.

In fact, ranch style house plans with open floor plans can get quite luxurious. Take a look at plan 132-207 above for a good example. Many rustic details add a Craftsman vibe to the exterior, especially the decorative trusses and exposed rafters. A series of gables creates an interesting roofline. 

Inside, the incredibly open layout feels spacious and roomy, with more exposed beams drawing the eye up. Guests can hang out by the fireplace or wander over to the kitchen, where there's enough room for a party.

Want something a bit more modest? Plan 929-793 uses its 2,361 square feet wisely, with the kitchen at the center of action. Visitors can pull up a stool to the vast, wrapping bar and socialize. One of the four bedrooms sits close to the foyer, making it a good choice to convert into a study later.

Even budget-friendly tiny homes can include space for entertaining, like this sleek design. 

Plan 48-685 fits two bedrooms and an open living area into its 780-square-foot layout, with a built-in table for three in the kitchen. If you're building this as an add-on to your home, visitors or live-in relatives (like an elderly parent) will appreciate the extra room. This smart little home would also make a great vacation getaway, perhaps in the desert. See other in-law units here.

Open concept ranch floor plans can fit into any neighborhood, even a traditional one. Plan 430-107 displays graceful brick, along with stucco and a hipped roof that add a bit of European style.

Love these looks? Check out ranch home plans, explore house plans with open layouts, and check out house design plans with photos to see what's possible.

The Case for One-Story Floor Plans (Especially Ranch Homes) Inspiration

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