Ranch house decor mistakes you might be making

Ranch houses have been one of the prized examples of American residential architecture since the 1930s. These types of dwellings reached the pinnacle of popularity in the 1950s and 1960s and have remained cherished by first-time homebuyers, families with young kids, seniors, and people with disabilities. However, nowadays, there are a few ranch house decor mistakes you might be making simply because you are not that well acquainted with this style. For this reason, we are going to explore how you can decorate your ranch house perfectly.

We are also going to touch upon how you can spice up your home exterior for a new season with decorative practices that will make your ranch house the talk of the town. Ranch houses are famous for their exteriors made of natural building materials such as wood or brick. This feature is what clearly distinguishes them from other decorative styles, which is why it makes sense to pay attention to the exterior and the interior.

Not making use of the design potential

This frequent exterior decor mistake ranch owners usually make is grounded in the idea that function comes before form. In other words, ranch house design is usually not as important as its functionality. However, there is no reason why you should stick with this kind of pragmatic approach to home design. Starting from the exterior and moving on to the interior, you can easily make the (possibly) slightly run-down property not only purposeful but also beautiful. 

Ranch houses are generally quite spacious – their surface area goes anywhere from 1,500 to 2,500 square feet. Hence, some ranches have a strikingly boxy layout that may even resemble a shoebox. This is probably a visual association you want to avoid. 

A well-lit ranch house after rain
Ranch houses are typically wide, one-story, open floor structures

Fortunately, you can divert the observer’s attention from the boxy shape of the ranch with the help of carefully chosen decor such as eclectic wall decor or wall art (but only if the ranch has a roof that shields the decoration from the elements). Most ranch owners opt for decor that is made of natural materials, such as bamboo, wicker, or wood. 

Hence, not investing in the decoration of the exterior is a serious faux pas. No matter how splendid and tasteful your ranch house interior design may be, it won’t matter that much if you have unsightly exterior walls, driveway, or backyard.

Sticking with unsightly or outdated structural features

On the one hand, you might be inclined to keep the quaint, old-timey features of the ranch house. This is commendable as, in most cases, it makes sense to maintain the architectural and decorative elements of the style. 

However, the effort to retain the original features of the ranch house should not be interpreted as a rule but more as a guideline. Most ranch houses’ overall look significantly improves the second you remove crown moldings and cornices. As this decorative modification transforms the visual appearance of the walls and the ceiling, the overall visual appearance of the interior will be noticeably more modern and spacious. 

Examine the ranch house carefully to locate decor mistakes

Most ranch houses built in the 1970s and later actually do not have crown moldings. However, take a look around the house. Look at the railings, the doorknobs, the finishes, everything. Once you isolate each element inside the ranch house, you will be able to assess if it should be removed, updated, or left as is. 

Our suggestion is to do away with any undoubtedly anachronistic elements that make no sense anymore (cornices, we’re looking at you). Otherwise, try to repaint anything that may not seem too attractive currently. You will be surprised at the extent to which a good paint job can revive and reinterpret something that seemed unwittingly ugly beforehand.

Pro tip: White paint is the way to go in most cases! Opt for bright, daring colors if it fits the color scheme of the furniture and decoration.

Not accentuating the open floor plan

Ranch houses usually have open floor plans that can be pretty attractive and versatile if you play your cards correctly. So, it makes sense to draw attention to this lovely home feature, especially if you have the time and the opportunity to decorate the house from scratch

An open floor living room
Use the open floor plan to your advantage.

Overlooking the lighting in your ranch house

Overlooking the lighting is among the most common ranch house décor mistakes. You might want to install appropriate lighting to make your ranch house stand out in the evenings. In other words, bring in several (not one or two) table lamps to light up the living space in combination with quality overhead lighting and good exterior lighting. 

Proper lighting will make the main room of the house cozy, warm, and enjoyable. Furthermore, this approach to decorating does not require any severe home remodeling to be applied tastefully. So, you do not necessarily need any fancy structures, decor, or wall art to create an affordable plan that is nevertheless attractive and pleasant. 

Let in daylight at all costs

It is also important not to suffocate the space at your disposal. In this sense, you should do away with heavy, impermeable curtains, especially if the windows are on the small side compared to the curtains.

A huge ranch house window without curtains
Curtains are sometimes entirely unnecessary.

However, it is not only curtains but any obstruction of light – blinds or structural features – that constitutes a ranch house decor mistake. When decorating, homeowners usually focus too much on decorative items that they believe improve the vibe and style of a room. Yet, without proper light sources, natural and artificial, ranch houses tend to drown in the dark and create that drowsy atmosphere older homes sometimes suffer from. 

Hopefully, you have found this article on the most frequent ranch house decor mistakes you might be making to be of value to you. Good luck with your ranch house decorating!


Joanna Hewey has been in the interior decorating business for almost a decade. Her specialty is American residential styles. Alongside this, she focuses on exterior decor and furniture placement in collaboration with experts from residential moving companies such as  smallworldmoving.com. She likes to observe decor holistically – so, she takes into account the style and topology of a home and the personal preferences and circumstances of future residents of the property.

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