How to Update the Exterior of a Ranch Style House

Rose Morrison

Jul 20, 2022


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Ranch homes have grown in popularity over the last two decades, especially after being featured on popular TV shows like Fixer Upper. These one-level homes typically boast amazing outdoor spaces for entertaining or family activities. On the other hand, they can also look quite dated. The cookie-cutter boxy design is especially evident in a whole row of similarly styled homes. With these tips, learn how to update the exterior of a ranch-style house and stand out from your neighbors. 

1. Use Elements With Varied Heights

Traditional ranch homes are one story, so they don’t offer much vertical interest. The roofline is typically straight all the way across and relatively shallow. Using landscaping with varied heights can break up the field of vision. 

Mix trees, shrubs and flowers with planter boxes and other decorative elements. However, you want to avoid going overboard. A few too many features in your yard will quickly overwhelm the simple structure of your home. Landscaping needs to walk a careful balance between accenting and overpowering. 

Another option is to raise part of the roof, which would give you a lovely vaulted ceiling inside and add to the curb appeal as well. For a cheaper alternative, add gables to the front of your home.  

beautiful front door renovation on ranch style house with front porch

2. Bring Attention to the Front Door

The front exterior of a ranch house is usually flat, with little visual interest. Wow your neighbors with a stunning front door that brings the eye exactly where it should be. An impactful entrance will draw visitors right into your home. 

Try painting the door with a pop of color or swapping it for one with a natural wood grain. You could also add glass panels to one or both sides of the door for a touch of luxury. Swap out your hardware and add customized house numbers to give added polish. 

3. Paint Tired Siding or Brick

If you live in an older ranch home, odds are your siding could use a facelift. You can paint wood siding or a brick exterior. Add value to your home by using neutral colors which are currently very popular. A neutral paint job is a perfect background for a pop of color on the shutters or a statement door. 

4. Install Larger Windows

Your windows could probably also use some attention. If they’re original to a 1950s or 60s home, you should consider replacing them to improve energy efficiency in your home and prevent water damage. 

Installing large windows can help overcome the large eaves that come standard on old ranch homes. If you can, opt for ones without grilles to let in the max amount of light. Otherwise, choose windows with horizontal ones to match the flow of lines on your house. 

minimalist front patio for a ranch house with lots of plants in a white and grey palette

5. Add a Patio

The main reasons homeowners purchased ranch-style houses were their simplicity, low cost and fantastic outdoor entertaining possibilities. While traditional homes featured large front porches, ranch homes focused on the back of the home, with large sliding glass doors that opened onto a patio. 

Bring that historical architecture to the front of your home instead of a classic porch. An open patio will give you more entertaining space and curb appeal while still allowing all the natural light from the front windows to get inside uninhibited. 

6. Modernize Columns and Fixtures

One of the easiest ways to update the exterior of a ranch style house is to trade out the fixtures. Choose some statement lights for the side of your door — make sure the size is big enough to notice from the street. Be careful to choose something that matches the style of your home, not just that looks good in the store. 

Columns are another aspect of your exterior design that might need some updating. Traditional rounded white pillars may match the architecture of some homes, but they don’t really fit a ranch style house. Try wrapping them in cedar for a mid-century modern or craftsman look. For a similar effect, you could also cover the base with stone masonry.  

updated ranch style house to match Spanish style neighborhood.

Consider Your Location

As with any home, you’ll want to consider the area you live in before deciding how to update the exterior of a ranch style house. You should let your region dictate the types of landscaping you use. Ranch homes are spread across the country and look good with a broad range of greenery, as long as the heights are varied. 

You’ll also want to consider the other homes on your street or in your neighborhood. What’s their architectural style? For example, if most of the houses are traditional, you may want to lean that direction in your design while still paying homage to your home’s style. 

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