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Ranches: Design Ideas for Renovating, Remodeling, and Buil (Updating Classic America) Paperback – March 1, 2006

3.3 out of 5 stars 36 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Landscape architect M. Caren Connolly and architect Louis Wasserman, both graduates of Harvard's School of Design, share a passion for American design and an architectural studio in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Their previous books include two volumes in the "Updating Classic America" series: "Bungalows" and "Ranches.
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Product Details

  • Series: Updating Classic America
  • Paperback: 202 pages
  • Publisher: Taunton Press (March 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1561587419
  • ISBN-13: 978-1561587414
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 0.6 x 10.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #162,201 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I haven't read this book, just wanted to point out that there are a suspicious 7 reviews in 5 days, 2 from 'Joshua,' 2 from 'Jeann,' and three others that were all apparently submitted by the same person with a grudge to throw off the rating. I checked a couple of them and this book is the only one 'they' have reviewed.

I have no connection to this book or the author, but it bugs me when I'm trying to decide whether to get a book, based on the ratings, to have them intentionally weighted like this.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
After having lived for years in a boring, utilitarian ranch home, I had no idea that a ranch house could be as elegant as the homes in this book. Even though the authors present some very high-end renovations, with some imagination many of the basic ideas can be translated into more economical ways of updating your home.

The first thing you notice when flipping through the book is the sheer number and beauty of the color photographs. There is a color photo on just about every page. When there's not, then there is a diagram, such as "Fireplace Options," which shows you several ways to design an updated fireplace. Other diagrams show "before and after" floor plans, and a plan showing the early roots of the original ranch homes. Thus, it's not just pretty pictures presented here--there's a lot of nuts and bolts information.

The authors start off with a history of the ranch style, since it helps when updating to keep within the original concepts that the style evolved with. I learned that the current ranch design was originally popularized by designer Cliff May in California. But May drew inspiration from the traditional ranchos of the southwest. These ranchos in turn had evolved over the millenia from the atrium houses of the Romans. These ancient houses were "closed off" from the streets, whilst providing a private outdoor space for family living, the same as many ranches today.

The authors discuss how in ranch houses form follows function. For instance, typical ranch houses have been built with large windows to allow for passive solar heating--thus these were the some of the first energy efficient houses. Also, there were often more large windows and glass doors in the back of the house than the front.
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Format: Hardcover
The title implied that this book would be ideal for me; I like ranches, I feel that they are undervalued, and I see many that are ripe for renovation after years of benign neglect. They're often small by today's standards, too, and I'd like to know how other people have expanded or changed their ranches while maintaining the buildings' architectural identity. For all these reasons, I didn't like this book much. The author disparages the architectural style that some of us appreciate--she is downright insulting about the exteriors--and seems to feel that the reader/owner's main goal will be to ignore the exterior of their house or transform it into something very different such as a developer-style colonial. Little advice is given about maintaining or updating the wonderful horizontal form of the ranch, choosing trim, siding, roofing, hardware, doors, windows, etc., or maintaining and enhancing the architecture-nature connection that makes ranches interesting through appropriate landscaping, decks, gardens, and other outdoor features. If you find it at your library or a charity book sale, it's worth a look, but it didn't contain what I thought it would.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The initial review may have been a little hasty.
The photo lay-outs are certainly a bit overpowering, but I find the text as well as the photos give somewhat a practical quality to this book.
I bought a ranch some 13 years ago, and have been making the improvements that seem called for. Most of this time my only resource materials were magazines from the late '50s and early '60s (and I had to buy them in antique stores).
As I think back, had I had this book when I moved in, I wouldn't have spent so much time with the "should I or shouldn't I" dilemmas that go with major remodeling.
For instance, it took me over a year just to decide on adding a 300 square foot sun room. The authors showed examples how well this upgrade works when done to maintain the basic integrity of the architecture.
New windows, room make overs, bathrooms, kitchens and on it goes, but with an insight you seldom get from another source.
There are plenty of TV programs devoted to remodeling . . . ripping off old dark paneling and snatching up shag carpeting, but considering the rampant "real life" examples of bad remodeling projects, due in some measure to a lack of clear conceptual assistance, I argue this book should be "standard equipment" with the purchase of any ranch.
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Format: Hardcover
Despite what some other reviewers have said, I think this book can serve as a great inspiration for owners of all sizes of ranch homes. My own ranch home, in need of some updating and built in 1970, is on the small side but I found more than a few ideas in this book.
A note: This book is not for someone looking to DIY a project on the weekend, and there are other books that are more appropriate for those who can live with particle board and $5 "oops" paint from Home Depot as their "home renovation." The updates in this book are beautiful and of architectural quality, ideal for someone who wants to make a solid investment in their home.
I recommend this book - easy and interesting to read and lovely photographs.
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