How to Modernize a Ranch Style House

A lot has changed since ranch-style houses were popular in the 1950s. While these typical three-bedroom, two-bath houses were just what America needed after World War II, they’ve become notorious for their boring, predictable layout, with their bland style and infamous wood paneling. However, few ranch-style homes are beyond hope. Whether you’re planning a complete remodel or you simply want to update your décor, there’s plenty you can do to modernize your ranch style house.


Ranch homes are notorious for their wood paneling.

Regardless of your decorating style, the physical structure of ranch-style houses tends to make it difficult to update their look. So when you’re looking to modernize, start with the architecture of the house itself. Consider building a second story, finishing the basement, tearing down unnecessary walls, adding vaulted ceilings, putting in bigger windows or adding a patio or deck. Many ranch homes also come with small, basic kitchens and bathrooms. While the initial cost may be high, expanding a kitchen or adding on a luxurious master bath will greatly increase the value of your home.

Flooring and Walls

Next, consider how the walls and flooring in your home reflect its age. Replace the standard carpet, paisley wallpaper and dark wood paneling with modern wall and floor coverings. Opt for light, neutral paint colors, bold wallpaper patterns and classy tile or hardwoods instead. Not every wall and floor covering in your ranch is bad, though. Keep an eye out for timeless focal points your want to salvage, like an exposed brick wall or a stone fireplace. These will add a feeling of style and permanence to your new modern décor.


The fixtures throughout a ranch house may be one of the most tell-tale signs of its age. Look for little giveaways, like yellow outlet plates or an outdated light fixture, and make replacing these a priority. Replace dated sinks and bathtubs with new ones that have clean, simple lines and neutral colors. When it comes to faucets and knobs, choose metallic accents like chrome or stainless steel. Take a look at your countertops and cabinets, as these are another sign of a home’s age. Trade standard laminate and pressed wood for granite counters and updated cabinets. Even if you don’t have the money to completely replace these items, refinishing them will do much to modernize the look of your home.

Furniture and Decor

When it comes to décor, start with the big items like furniture and appliances. As a general rule, aim to have a few large pieces rather than several smaller pieces. Remember, modern homes capitalize on clean lines and minimal clutter, so the more you can eliminate the better. Give your rooms spunk and character by adding bold accent colors in the form of throw pillows, shaggy rugs, geometric artwork, modern vases and unique plants. Create a clear focal point in each room, and layer lighting to give a clear, clean look throughout the house.


Most ranch houses are as boring on the outside as they are on the inside. Replace bland vinyl siding with stone, brick or wood to give texture and interest. Install bay windows, dormers, arches or french doors to give added architectural appeal. Consider updating your lawn with fountains, flower gardens or stylish xeriscaping.

About the Author

Tiffany Bennett is a recent graduate from Toccoa Falls College. While earning her degree in counseling and psychology, she discovered that she enjoys various forms of writing. She is currently living in Athens, Ga., and looking forward to beginning a graduate degree program in international affairs at the University of Georgia.