The best 50s ranch house design so far – a Retro Renovation re-run


This rerun is for Sara, who is looking for a ranch house design to build. I originally ran this post back in spring 2008. Source for this design is the Small House Planning Bureau, St. Cloud, Minn. Year: No info.

“Not another one! Yes, another thing that I’m becoming obsessed with – collecting and then for hours, scrutinizing, vintage 50s house plans. It’s sort of like — the quest for Eldorado. The quest for the perfect little jewel box. Not that my house isn’t great. But I am intrigued to see if I can discover the perfect 50s house in the most compact footprint. I have these criteria, the house must have: 

  • Two full bathrooms – honestly, I know that legions of Americans lived with one, but that is where I draw the line.
  • Foyer with adjacent coat closet – Foyers always get cluttered and then there’s the whole muddy boots thing. So, this must be a clearly defined area with handy storage.
  • Mudroom – Same as above with the addition that the mudroom must be between the garage and kitchen so that all junk can be left in this ante-way with a door to close behind it.
  • Good kitchen layout – I know it when I see it.
  • Dining room or area must also be well designed. If there’s a dining room – it needs to be in a flow where it can/will actually be used every day.
  • One, not two, front doors — It is very bad feng shui to have two doors (e.g. one main door, one visible into kitchen or mudroom) visible to the street. Like, the energy does not know where to enter.


On virtually all other counts — exterior design, layout, size of rooms — hey, I’m flexible! Here is my first pretty darn close to perfect home, discovered after a few hours of staring intently at a new stash of home plans. I’m telling you – hours of cheap and wholesome fun!

This house gains points for:

  • Utility/mudroom/lav off the back of the garage leading to the kitchen. Washer/dryer – right there.
  • Twoand a half baths.
  • Kitchen is nicely done, great flow to family room.
  • Bedrooms are small but that’s okay.
  • Foyer close enough, coat closet a little far from the action, but okey.
  • And (shown in original image at top, and below): Nice curb appeal

Loses points for:

  • Kind of big — but pretty darn well-done for 1625 s.f.! From a book of four-bedroom plans. Which is what makes all this stuff fit!
  • I don’t honestly think 20′ wide will do for a two-car garage, would have to be bigger, in reality.

Honestly, I think my quest will be complete when I find a 2 BR 2 BA 1,200 s.f. winner. But the more I look at this particular home design – the more I think, it’s a really really good one – especially considering that it is 4 BR. Stay tuned, the quest continues.

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    • pam kueber says

      Thanks for you comment, Elise. I am not an expert on this issue. I do *think* I know that some fireplaces are designed to burn more efficiently than others. Also in general: Live small, consume less energy of all sorts. They all have their “problems,” I think.

  1. anne says

    You’re right! This is perfect! And I also love to look through old home plans!!! Cheap, wholesome fun indeed! :-)

  2. Daniel says

    I’d honestly recommend this site for mid-century plans. It’s by the same person as the antique home site,that someone else mentioned, but specializes in WWII to the early sixties. I’ve looked at about every single plan on the site, so I’ve started looking up the creators of the plans (the lumber companies, etc.) on and found quite a few full books of 50s plans:

    I wasn’t surprised by Liberty Ready-Cut on there, but some of the arbitrary lumber companies had nice plans… some of which were of brick construction, which seems counter-intuitive.

    PS. I have actually recreated this plan in the Sims 3, though I did indeed revise it some to my liking. It ended up being ridiculously large compared to this, but it had some impressive mid-century style if I do say so myself.

  3. says

    Love this design! I never thought of a collection of vintage house plans, but how cool is that! I wish I could find the actual plans for my parents first home (a modest, but wonderful 3 BR, 2 bath house that still stands in Bloomington, Indiana, and they were the first owners – “new” neighborhood built up from 1962 to 1964). I bet you would like it, Pam – relatively compact, but so well-designed!

  4. Anastasia says

    We have a house for sale in a neighborhood nearby that everyone calls “The Messed Up House”. Why you ask, because when they enclosed the garage they added not 1 but 2 additional doors which means that the house now has 3 count them 3 front doors. Looks Terrible.

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