High-End Columns Stand Out
Round columns tend to look formal. If you choose real wood round columns versus metal or vinyl-covered columns, you can add a more stately look to your ranch house. The size of the columns should not overpower the house, however. If your house is a basic ranch, don't install columns that belong on a traditional high-end colonial. The columns will devalue the look of the home in this case, because they will stand out too much on their own.
Compare a Little Further
Drive through neighborhoods to see houses similar to yours and more formal homes. Notice that round columns that are approximately 12 inches in diameter from top to bottom fit well with almost any basic ranch home. If the columns are round and tapered to have a larger bottom, these columns belong on a more upscale colonial, for example. This is not to say you can't use tapered, wooden columns that are round, but you may use just two on a smaller ranch house porch versus four or more.
Review Square Columns
Go over the design details of square columns, including how they are installed with cladding. Cladding is wood layering added to a central solid square core. Square porch columns reaching from the porch floor to its ceiling can work fine. However, it's possible to enclose the bottom half of a porch with walls and use square columns in upper sections only. Various accessories are available to expand or enhance basic square columns, depending on the effect you want to achieve.
Blend Materials with Columns
The exterior materials of your home will affect columns you select. A ranch house remodeled with stacked stone versus brick will probably look best with square columns. That same house remodeled with white painted brick may look better with round columns. If you use a combination of siding, stucco, tongue-and-groove boards and brick, for example, you will need to review several styles and shapes of columns so the final outcome is pleasing.
Use Graph Paper Sketches
Draw your home to scale on graph paper from various angles. Make sure you use the dimensions of either round or square columns on the porch drawn exactly to scale. Use one square of graph paper to represent six inches of porch space. Color your drawings with colored pencils to get a good idea of how the columns will fit with house coloring and materials. The color of your columns will affect your design significantly.