By Design

Renovating a new home? Don’t dismiss the humble Rancher

by Patricia M. Cove
Posted 9/21/23

I grew up in a “Rancher.”  My father built it himself, in 1959, and it remained our family home for the next 50 years. 

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By Design

Renovating a new home? Don’t dismiss the humble Rancher


I grew up in a “Rancher.”  My father built it himself, in 1959, and it remained our family home for the next 50 years. 

It was red brick with white trim and it had a large bay window in the front. But because the front door was located down a long walkway, we always used the side door that led into the laundry, and a knotty pine kitchen.  It was a cozy house with a large stone fireplace, “jalousie” windows, and pink bathrooms. It was perfect.

It has been a long time since ranchers were in vogue. Although many of their qualities are quite popular today, it takes someone with vision to see how a typical rancher can be transformed into a” state of the art “contemporary” while still maintaining its distinctive character. 

The interior of a typical rancher was usually a mix of smaller walled rooms intermingled with one or two more open spaces. If you happen to currently own one of these or are considering purchasing one, be assured that the reconfiguring of the interior of a rancher can be one of the easiest, and even better, most profitable projects you could undertake.  

Several years ago, we undertook such a project in Jenkintown. Located on a lovely street, the rancher still had its original layout. A narrow entrance hall led to a small but comfortable family and living room, with floor-to-ceiling windows that looked out onto a beautifully landscaped lawn.  

To the right was an angled, storage wall in a combination of maple and birch. At the time the house was built, the wall must surely have been an important feature.  But the fact that the space beyond it was a very small kitchen, which the buyers thought was one of the more disappointing features. A larger entrance hall and updated bathrooms were also high on the to-do list.

I thought it was a great project and felt lucky to do it. 

Once the angled wall in the family/living room was down, the real potential of the space became quite evident. The excitement of expanding the entrance hall into a light-filled gallery that would lead into the open kitchen/family room became the driving force behind the renovation. 

It was important to both the clients and myself that we use natural materials, in homage to the home’s origins, along with a few more dramatic features.

We combined cherry cabinetry and black quartz countertops with a black and taupe mosaic tile backsplash. One of the more unique features was a custom table, configured from a solid wood slab, replete with knots and rough-hewn edges, conveniently abutting the workable island. 

It was important for the color scheme to be able to flow easily from one area to the next. The window frames were painted black with a lighter cream trim. The walls and the ceiling were all painted in a warm taupe shade that gave the kitchen and all the surrounding spaces a unified, coherent feel. 

All the bathrooms were outfitted from the Porcelanosa Showroom in King of Prussia, creating modern, clean-lined spaces with spa-like appeal.  Grasscloth wallcoverings in deeper, rich tones were added to the dining and family room walls, adding texture and interest to the spacious areas.

The finished project was a complete revision that not only transformed the interior spaces but created a desired “open “floor plan that did not compromise the historic integrity of the original. The magnificent views have been expanded, and both the public and private spaces have been enhanced, but the original structure and all its definable features have remained intact. It’s a Rancher…..only better! 

So in this day of waning housing inventory, don’t pass by the lonely Rancher…….you never know what it could become.

Patricia Cove is the Principal of Architectural Interiors and Design in Chestnut Hill and can be reached through her website: