Our Latest Ranch House by Nicholas Lee

Building a House: Theme and Variation

Near the towns of Sonoma and Petaluma, California we’re developing a string of variations on the classic suburban ranch house. They’re all designed by Houseplans.com architect Nicholas Lee and together show how flexible the form can be. Two were built on spec and have been sold; two are nearing completion for separate clients; and another, the newest design, Plan 888-6, shown here,

888-6 ext 2

is now under construction. The long single gable extends over porches at the sides and, with the board and batten siding and tall double hung windows,

888-6 plan

creates an iconic image of home. Inside it’s all about modern living in a split layout where the master suite is on one side of the great room and the children’s bedrooms are on the other. With this latest plan in the series I thought it was time to ask Nick to talk about the design and its relatives.

What are the key ideas, inspirations?  Simplicity, proportion, and setting. Given the simple form of the house, it was important to simplify and refine the few elements that the house does have — columns, windows, doors, and the fireplace. We liked the idea of tall, slender proportions for the doors and windows and repeated this throughout the house.

Suitable for what type of lot? Climate? Orientation? This house is designed for an open site with good views on both sides. The covered porches are intended to provide outdoor living places throughout the day. Drink your coffee on the Morning Porch, then watch the sunset on the ‘Mai Tai Lanai.‘  Designed for a place with hot, warm, and mild temperatures throughout the year.  Best orientation would be to have the porches or long sides of the house facing East-West. This gives more sun exposure on the long sides of the house. Orienting the house with the long sides facing North and South would not give you much warmth from the sun and would make the house dark, especially during the winter months.

Can you suggest ways to customize the plan? Where would you  put a garage? Or how would you make the front door more obvious? Adding a garage really depends on your site, but I can see two different options. One would be to create an attached or detached garage connected by a breezeway adjacent to the kitchen. This would allow for easy access from the garage to the kitchen. This is nice especially when you have a large load of groceries to bring in. The other location would simply be an extension to either end of the house.

Because the house form is so straightforward anything that is done to the roof line will stand out as a beacon. If you want to make a more obvious entrance, you could simply add a gable roof that attaches to the main body of the house. This house is intentionally designed to be subtle and linear. If you wanted to break up the length of the house, you could add a gable roof over the great room. This would give you a cross form and express the main living space on the exterior.
Now that you’ve designed six ranch houses, do you have any lessons about working with this house type? The main lesson I’ve learned is this house is very adaptable. The house can easily get larger or smaller by lengthening or shortening the form. The shape of the house can change to adapt to different site conditions. For example, the L-shaped house, Plan 888-5, shown
here, was designed to create an exterior pool court and wind barrier for a particular site. The porch doesn’t have to be on both sides. Depending on your views and orientation the porches are easily added or removed depending on the needs of the site. We had another site that had a neighboring house right next to
ours so we placed the porch on the side away from the neighbor, which also
happened to be the view side, for our Plan 508-1, so that design has only one porch, as shown above. These houses were designed from the inside-out and the outside-in… meaning the covered porches and direct connection from all the major rooms make the houses feel larger than they are. If you want to go outside, you simply open the door. You don’t have to walk down the hallway and through the living room to get to the pool.
Thanks, Nick!




5 responses to “Our Latest Ranch House by Nicholas Lee

  1. Great stuff! My house is the last one 🙂 I bought it in October and LOVE it. It’s a great design. I really love the L shaped one as well. That layout is classic how you’re bracketing the pool. Very cool. Would love to see photos of the project as they develop.

  2. I was surprised by Nicks response to the orientation of the house. Is it because of the large porch overhangs?

  3. Dave R. Summers

    Really impressed with the 888-6. It speaks to me from every direction, inside & out, every waking moment. It truly had me in mind when was stumbled on the pic data mining for the right ranchstyle layout. I am seriously considering making contact with you concerning this model & a couple of design needs to further the mission ops. A full rap around 360*porch/six feet wide as appoaed to 9′ and a 12′ to 15′ Dog Trot instead of the media room, inturn having the Main entry door from theTrot being centered on the Grand Room. That has been in my minds eye up till I stumbled on your 888 series homes. I am in the process of securing a Southwest Texas,Kindall Co.hill country piece of dirt as I type. [ 29*57’20.05″ – 98*39’27.36″]. Yes… Mr.Nicholas Lee I have
    admired your insight & concepts from a far. Most pleased with your creations that display this Texican Ranch Style feel & culture using this inside & outside-living home 24/7-365 concept in a place where rain and baby calves are always welcome. Keep on keeping on!
    Dave Summers, Mesquite, TX
    Virtus Junxit Mors Non Separabit-14*

  4. I love how this property takes a simple concept and executes it exceedingly well. Very beautiful and inviting take on a ranch house all around, thanks for sharing!

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