No style of home is more closely associated with the Valley than the ranch. It was the most popular residential architectural in the U.S., especially in the West, following World War II, when the Valley “had acres and acres of undeveloped land” on which to build.
Land was crucial. The most important thing to know about “ranchers” is it that they ramble, sprawling out horizontally across generously-sized lots. With more Americans owning cars from the 1950s on, architects no longer needed to take into consideration the distance between homes and transit stops. So they built out, instead of up. In a sign of just how closely linked car culture and ranchers were, they often feature attached garages.
And, as with most midcentury architecture, they have open floor plans and make connections to indoor and private outdoor spaces (swimming pools!), usually via picture windows, sliding glass or French doors, and outdoor patios.
“In the '50s, say ‘ranch’ and it would bring up all these associations,” Alan Hess, an architectural historian who wrote a book about ranchers, tells the Los Angeles Times. “Self-reliance, owning your own property, living in nature. And the people who lived in them were often pioneers in the development of the suburbs. Good architects caught all that and translated it into design.”
Ranch homes were easily mass produced, and they became so ubiquitous—and land became less available and therefore more expensive—that they fell out of popularity.
Many have been razed to make room for McMansions, but there are still plenty fine examples standing in the Valley today.
Below are five on the market right now. Scroll the photos and you’ll get a good sense of how ranchers vary in style, with facades that incorporated wood, brick, stone, stucco, and paneling.
Time capsule with vintage oven in Sylmar
We’ll kick off this roundup with a home that’s quintessentially ranch inside and out. It not only looks the part, it sits on 3.5 acres in Sylmar, and, as the listing notes, would be perfect for horse lovers. Built in 1947, the 1,801-square-foot house is a time capsule filled with original wood paneling (including some knotty pine in the family room) and a sweet 1960s Frigidaire Flair, a double-oven with a hideaway stovetop. The property is listed for $1.2 million.
Rock facade with kitschy vibes in Valley Village
From the diamond paned windows to a built-in with gingerbread trim, this house with a partial rock facade retains some 1950s, Cinderella charm. The three-bedroom in Valley Village measures 1,947 square feet and was on the market for less than two weeks with an asking price of $889,000 before the owners accepted a bid. But, Redfin says they’re still accepting backup offers, so get to it.
Blue picket fence in Sherman Oaks
Enclosed in a blue picket fence, this three-bedroom with a cheery yellow exterior features an updated kitchen, lovely wood moldings (that haven’t been painted over), and two fireplaces. Measuring an ample 1,984 square feet, it’s listed for $1.128 million.
Encino fixer close to Ventura Boulevard
This cute three-bedroom in Encino is advertised as an “amazing opportunity to remodel or build.” Sure, it’s outdated—and needs a new roof—but it looks like to hold a lot of potential, with an original kitchen and bathrooms; tall, beamed ceilings; a fireplace; and plenty of windows. It’s also conveniently located just a couple of blocks from Ventura Boulevard. Built in 1953, it’s on the market for $899,000.
The HGTV touch in Valley Glen
This three-bedroom Valley Glen pad doesn’t need any work. It boasts a fashionable kitchen that, per the listing, was remodeled on HGTV's House Hunters Renovation. Its two bathrooms are stylishly updated, too, and the home has a new HVAC system (you’ll need it in the Valley) and new plumbing. It’s asking $659,999.