Craftsman Vs. Ranch-Style Homes: What's The Difference?

Craftsman and ranch-style homes are two of the most popular home styles in the United States, and among the top 10 most popular architectural styles, according to HuffPost. Historical homes were built in both of these styles, and modern homes emulate the styles still today. The popularity of craftsman and ranch-style homes has lasted so long due to their classic style and structural soundness. 

Deciding what kind of home you want is an undoubtedly overwhelming task. Architectural styles tend to blend together, and it can be hard to decipher what's what. Craftsman and ranch-style homes, for example, can be easily mistaken for one another, when in reality, they're two very distinct architectural styles, each with their own specificities, histories, and details. In general, craftsman homes are one and a half stories tall with low pitched roofs and wide front porches, says The Spruce. Ranch-style homes, though, are only one story tall, built either in a rectangle, L, or U-shape. They also tend to have low-pitched roofs, per KHovanian Homes.

The appearance of craftsman homes

Craftsman and ranch-style homes can be mistaken for one another since they have similar architectural features — low pitched roofs, a flatter design style, and similar siding. The two architectural styles are actually quite different in a variety of ways, though.

As the name would suggest, craftsman-style homes emphasize the skill of the craftsman's influence on the house. The Spruce notes that the architectural trend was meant to focus on the modest and straightforward values of home design. Craftsman-style homes did not aim to hide the work of the architect but instead highlight their skill and originality, per KHovanian Homes. Beams and rafters are intentionally left exposed, and historical craftsman homes are made of painted wood siding in earthy tones with stone and stucco accents. Sash windows are another popular aspect of craftsman-style homes, as are overhanging eaves. Craftsman-style homes can be found in both symmetrical and asymmetrical designs.

The appearance of ranch-style homes

While both craftsman and ranch-style homes came out of a similar time period, a major difference between the two is the emphasis on the architecture itself. Whereas craftsman-style homes focus on the architect's skill, ranch-style homes focus on an open and accessible layout, specifically emphasizing space, according to The Spruce.

There are also multiple types of ranch-style homes, which originate from different regions of the United States. A few types of ranch-style homes include California ranch homes, suburban ranch homes, split-level ranch homes, and storybook ranch homes.

With such a variety of architectural specificities, it can be hard to lock down what exactly a ranch-style home is. There are a few commonalities shared between all home styles, though. For one, all ranch-style homes are flush with the ground, so there isn't a step-up porch (which is commonly found in craftsman homes). They tend to focus more on back porch space than front porch space. Ranch-style homes often have low-pitched roofs and overhanging eaves and focus on multiple large windows. Different styles have different shapes, but they're most commonly built as a rectangle or in an L or U-shape.

History and details of craftsman homes

While many people associate craftsman-style homes with the early 20th century, they actually came into being in the 1860s during the Arts and Crafts movement, according to RounTrey. This movement took the place of the Victorian movement in design, as people wanted to refocus on individual laborers in reaction to the Industrial revolution.

While early homes used expensive laborers and materials, the movement eventually became most popular among middle-class Americans. This actually influenced the structure of the house. Servant quarters were eradicated in favor of making domestic labor easier for the matriarch of the family. For example, kitchens became more centralized in the home, and breakfast nooks were added. 

By the turn of the 20th century, the craftsman home reigned supreme, becoming the most popular architectural style from 1905 into the 1920s. The famous architect of the era, Frank Lloyd Wright, was a major player in the popularity of the craftsman home. As a design style, craftsman homes are still incredibly popular, but historic, original builds are highly coveted among homebuyers.

History and details of ranch-style homes

Ranch-style homes arose from a similar focus on family values but instead emphasized design values like space, openness, and accessibility, says The Spruce. They became most popular in the 1930s and likely originated in California.

Traditional style builds up until that point like Victorian and even craftsman style, homes were quite separated, focusing on formality over comfort. Ranch-style homes completely broke the mold, focusing on comfort and day-to-day convenience. These were some of the first open floor plan-style homes in the United States.

As suburbs became more and more popular in the 1950s to accommodate the rapidly increasing population and the advent of the nuclear family, every nine out of 10 homes built was a ranch-style home. Most mid-century builds either are ranch-style homes or take heavy inspiration from them. Ranch-style homes remained quite popular until the 1970s, when two-story homes took the lead among both designers and homeowners.