updating instantes Updating ranch home

"The outside of our house is just not pretty," declares Marco Leal, who has lived in this Idaho ranch with his partner, Eric Wride, for about a year, focusing on interior upgrades.

To help them reimagine their home's plain exterior, we asked designer Richard O'Leary for some curb appeal suggestions.

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Front and side porches do the trick nicely, without altering the home's brick shell.

Matching gables on either side of the front door would make the entry more prominent and appealing, while also taking away the house's flattop look.

Wider front steps, a curved walkway, and low-maintenance, drought-tolerant foundation plantings extend a warmer welcome to guests.

"I can't believe how much better the brick looks with these changes," says Marco.

Q My husband and I have been living in our ranch home since the 1970s, and we are finally ready to do some upgrading to make it a little more current. The earth-hugging prairie-style houses pioneered by Frank Lloyd Wright and the popular California bungalow styles paved the way for the ranch.

The informal ranch style evolved from several 20th century styles.Architect Cliff May is credited with building the first ranch-style home in San Diego in 1932, followed by California real estate developer Joseph Eichler’s mass-produced version that become so popular in the 1950s.After World War II, simple and economical ranch-style homes were mass-produced to meet the housing needs of returning soldiers and their families.Because so many ranch-style houses were built quickly and with a cookie-cutter formula, the ranch is dismissed by some as simple, ordinary and without style.But there is more than meets the eye to the classic suburban ranch.Some typical architectural characteristics of the style include: • Low-pitched gable roof and deep-set eaves. • Large sliding glass doors leading out to a patio. • Openness, few interior walls and efficient use of space.