Granny ranch — defined

mrs wiegel in her electric kitchenI came up with the term “mid century modest” a couple of years ago and about the same time, I met Alyssa Starelli, the mid mod maven of Portland, Oregon, who had floated her own terminology: She coined the term “granny ranch.” It’s been on my list (for too long!) to ask her for a definition, so that I could assess if there is a difference. There is. –>

What is a granny ranch?

I emailed AlyStar and asked her, “What exactly is a granny ranch?”

Hi Pam!

alyssa starelliWell, I have to thank Atomic Ranch for attributing the coining of the term to me…  <blush>.

A granny ranch to me is one that has stood the test of time and received little to no remodeling. It is as if you’re stepping back into a bygone era, a home that was treated with such pride of ownership, little, if anything – right down to the decor – needs to be changed out because of the care it’s received. It’s a true time capsule, usually with some of granny’s funny little knick knacks, sitting right where they always did. Everything is in its place and there’s a place for everything, because Grampy built a cubby just for that item’s purpose. That is a Granny Ranch, to me.

A lot of people misconstrue the term “Granny Ranch” with those houses more recently remodeled by people of the earlier generations, generally … with newer “home-depot special” baths or kitchens, maybe some carpet in the kitchen, a walk-in tub, and hand rails everywhere… And while a grandmother may have very well made those changes, that’s not what I’m referring to with heartfelt sentiment when I squeal with joy over the time warp “Granny Ranch” I just walked into. No, those are just “Remuddles”, a term I did not make up. : )

All granny ranches are mid century modest houses, but not all mid century modest houses are granny ranches

Thank you, AlyStar! Okay. So now that I know AlyStar’s definition, I can split hairs:

  • A mid century modest house is a (usually relatively) small house built in postwar America. An unpretentious house built — likely by a local “merchant builder” — aimed at the mainstream, middle class. These houses do not necessarily have architect-obvious “mid century modern” cues — they are more likely to have a “minimal traditional” colonial-ranch mix exterior. However, a mid-century modest house likely was originally built to include some of the “latest” technology and features of the time — such as zazzy ovens and range tops and sinks… patterned laminate countertops… pastel colored bathrooms… lovely light fixtures. A mid century modest house may — or may not — have been remodeled over the years. The term generally refers to the original architecture, middle class roots, and design vibe of the house.
  • A granny ranch, more narrowly, is a time capsule mid century modest house — lovingly cared for by the original or early-generation owners. Grandpa likely had mad skills at woodworking and home maintenance — and he stayed on top of each and every issue that may have occurred in that house. Inside, Grandma cleaned, then cleaned again. These houses were treasured — and when you enter them 60 years later, the love radiates from all the original surfaces so carefully maintained..

Ipso facto: All granny ranches are mid century modest houses. But not all mid century modest houses are granny ranches.

Were you lucky to find and now live in a granny ranch?
Did your granny have a granny ranch? Mine sure did!

Thumbnail photo: U.S. Library of Congress: Mrs. Wiegel, farm wife, in her electric kitchen, June 1942, Knox County, Tennessee. Photographer Arthur Rothstein. CALL NUMBER: LC-USW3- 004056-D [P&P] REPRODUCTION NUMBER: LC-USW3-004056-D (b&w film neg.) More information about the FSA/OWI Collection is available at http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/pp.fsaowi

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Comments

  1. hannah says

    Granny Ranch is a new term to me!

    We definitely have a mid-century modest home. The only remodeling I can see that was done in our home is adding tile half way up the bathroom wall all around because the match is so off from the shower stall tiles. It’s yellow, but not the quality of the original tiles and has little gray flecks in it. And, painting – someone painted over what was once the wonderful original wood doors to the bedrooms (the bathroom door escaped that fate, but is in terrible shape) AND all the window frames/sills. When I see pictures here of homes with their original wood windowsill and frames, I sigh. I wish my house were that intact.

    Our house still had the original asbestos kitchen tile floor which had to be removed, it was in superbly poor condition.

    “The Little Ranch” as I call it, is only 825sf, and I often look around at it and wonder at the original owners and how they ever raised kids in this house. It’s 2BR, 1BA and only a small area in the kitchen for a table. It’s perfect for DH and myself, but I can’t imagine 4 around a table in there!

    The house had been empty for 2 years and we waited 8 long months due to it’s status as a foreclosure (not the original owners, but the second ones) living among a mountain of boxes in the apartment during that time. I had run across a poem titled “The House With Nobody In It” and would read that and cry and cry and cry. It didn’t help that the house was my drive to and from work every day and I’d see it sitting here empty. Funny, but before we even considered buying, I must’ve driven past it 100s of times, and never really noticed it.

    Sorry, I blathered on. Yes, I’d say we have a mid-century modest home. And I couldn’t love it more. :)

  2. JKM says

    I think my grandparents’ 1949 middle-class home would have fallen into this category. Constructed by them when they were in their mid and late 40’s, it was comfortable without being large or fancy. In the 35 years they lived there, it was maintained with minimal updating but you could have eaten off the floor because it was so clean. Both being from extremely modest backgrounds, they were proud of their home and didn’t spend money foolishly. The only modifications they made were adding wall-to-wall carpeting sometime in the 50’s to cover hardwood floors, enclosing the breezeway in the 60’s to create a TV room and adding a dishwasher to the kitchen in the early 70’s. Other than that, everything was original – and still is! It was for-sale a couple years ago and I was amazed and pleased to see how wonderful the original tile kitchen and baths looked in the photos – all restored to their original luster looking better than new! And the gorgeous hardwood floors in all the rooms were lovely – I’d never seen them before since they’d been covered with carpet since before I was born. I wish we still had that house…

  3. Gerry says

    I want to recommend Aly’s website. She features listings of wonderful old “granny” ranches for sale in Portland, Oregon. I searched thru the archives one day and found a completely unmuddled twin to my parents first house in NE Portland. Our house was brand new in a Hallberg development built in 1955. I was five (oh where did the time go?). Tiny ranch about 1100 square feet with real paneling,cone wall scones, and cedar siding. Our house had a double car garage with vertical sliding doors. Anyway her site is great for looking back on housing styles and trends. Thanks for the memories too.

  4. says

    I think? that mine would be considered a Granny Ranch. Another couple lived here in between me and the Granny but nothing was changed so…….I’m going to say yes. And I’m a true Granny so surely that counts for something! : ) Most of the estate sale houses that I go through around here are one owner granny ranches with interesting little details and the same bucket of nails in a coffee can in the basement that has been there since the 50’s. Love them.

  5. Janet in CT says

    We found a “Grampy” ranch in Maine that we tried to purchase eight years ago, but our offer fell through. Coincidently, it had a RED kitchen. This ranch was custom built in 1961 by a fellow who put in everything his wife and four young daughters wanted. Unfortunately, his wife died within two years from breast cancer. He never remarried and raised the four girls by himself, and I think he never wanted to change a thing in the dream house his wife created. It still had the original kitchen with white cabinets and red counter tops, space for 39″ stove, and the original GE red clock and red pin-up lamp still hung over the kitchen sink between the double windows. It had battleship gray flooring which also ran down the hall. The house was full of built-in cabinets, including the dining area for dishes and the bathroom which had original mint green and black tile. I could tell it had fresh paint on the walls of the living room but the original teal green was still showing in the closets. I don’t think a single thing in that house was updated until they painted that living room before putting it up for sale. I SO wanted that house!

  6. Jacki says

    Having lived in our 1963 mid century ranch for all of three months now, I guess I would have to classify it as a cross between a mid century ranch and a granny ranch. When we bought the house last Christmas it had been sitting empty for 2 years because of the housing slump in AZ. The house had had one owner since new and she had passed away (she was in her nineties) leaving it in the hands of her children to dispose of. The only two things that she had changed were the flooring and the countertops (but not the speckled ceramic back splashes) over to a heavy early ’80’s chunky tile. These we quickly changed over to cork, VCT, and the Pionite formica recommended on this site. All of the bathrooms are original as are the kitchen cabinets and the original popcorn ceilings. I don’t think I would put this house in the mid century Modest category since it looks very Western. As a close friend of ours aptly put it ” It looks like the High Chaparral”.

  7. kda says

    There’s a lovely granny ranch down the road from us that’s for sale. Peach bathroom, yellow bathroom, original kitchen. It’s lovely and obviously had been cared for well.

  8. Robin says

    My midcentury modest house probably qualifies as a granny ranch. It was built in 1962 and I bought it from the original owners in 2009 who obviously adored the house and lovingly cared for it for years and years. The only real update that I can see is the cheap Home Depot flooring in the bathrooms, which I’m anxious to rip out. My kitchen has adorable formica counters with what I call a “falling leaf” motif and the bathrooms are Regency Blue and Ming Green. We call them the “blue room” and the “green room.” I also have the original light fixtures in most rooms – classy globe lights in the living room, “starburst” kitchen light, and the bathroom vanity light with the classic gold swirl cover. I didn’t know I was a fan of midcentury homes when I bought the house, I just knew I loved all the original fixtures and the character of the house – the warmth it exudes with its knotty pine in the living room and unpainted wood cabinets and doors.

  9. Lauren G says

    I know a woman, Ginny, in her 80s that I’ve known my whole life who lives in a second generation ‘granny ranch’ her parents built the house which I do believe is a ranch and the barn which was later converted into a house. So many things are original or were replaced mid century. Her husband Ray was always fixing things around the property. They have a time capsule bomb shelter from the Cold War on the property also which is pretty crazy. They were alway involved in the historical society as well.

    But I guess my question would be, what would a second, or actualy a third generation “Granny Ranch” be called?

  10. says

    I have long suspected a granny ranch behind us in our housing tract. It is the exact same model as our house, with the original owner. Nobody has tinkered with it over the years. Our house has had A LOT of tinkering, I have only contributed to part of the changes. I have been tempted so many times to knock on the door and beg to be let in for a tour. But never, in 15 years have i seen someone outside this house to even strike up a chit cat. I have seen cars come and go but no humans. I am told a widow lives there. That in her day when she was young, she yelled at the neighborhood kids.

    • tammyCA says

      I think every neighborhood has a person that yells at the kids. lol. Once I got yelled at by my sister’s neighbor when I accidently got water from the garden hose on her yard! Yipes.

  11. Jay says

    Well, I certainly live in a mid century modest home. When I purchased it exactly 10 years ago it was all original, but hardly lovingly maintained. I just replaced the picture window two weeks ago. What a job that was! Anyway, i certainly feel like I live in a granny ranch. My parents agreed to come live with me so they could have one floor living, they were along in years so of course all their furniture came as well. I feel like I am back in the home I grew up in. My mother was not parting with any furniture. She didn’t want anything new. Even the giant 1951 wall filling plate glass mirror that hung over the couch came along. I love when you invite A.S. onto your site, I always look at her houses.

  12. nin462 says

    Cute – but my home will not be a granny ranch. My house was designed by a single gal in her 30’s back in 1965 and I am carrying on her tradition of being a single gal in 2012. (However, I”m willing to change for ‘married’ – but no kiddos, hence no granny).

    • pam kueber says

      hmmm… you make a great point. I think that being a “granny ranch” does not require that there was a married couple living there. A single owner can own a “granny ranch” too!

  13. tammyCA says

    My ’54 Ranch had previous owners so they made some changes, some bad, some good. They enlarged the living room (good), but took out the original kitchen cabinets/counter & replaced with the ’80s (bad) and installed them in the garage.
    They left the wrap around worn red brick fireplace alone…love the brick. The original bathrooms were still intact, not in great condition so we just retiled one in the ’50s style…still has the original sink, several original light fixtures in the house (2 recently broken by husband and kids…grrrr…still looking for ’50s replacements)…street facing windows are original criss-cross (that are in bad shape but I refused to replace them & lose the charm, had to replace the others but they didn’t have criss-cross anyway), the criss-cross front door is original (love it so) and the wood floors are original (except where previous owners put in icky sheet vinyl in baths/kitchen).
    Sometimes, it feels like I am battling my husband over every house thing…he is the type to just run to Home Depot and not be bothered searching for the ’50s type stuff…it’s hard too since we have little kids and I can’t do as much (‘tho I do all the painting somehow!)
    But, thank god I didn’t have to deal with granite, sandstone? tiles, marble or whatever else it is that everybody raves about (all the flipped/flopped houses sport this look)…it is just cold icky to me.

    • Jay says

      I like the flip/flop phrase, flop is more like it especially when you watch HGTV and the realtor gushes that the house has been totally done over – you know exactly what to expect.

    • jacki says

      Tammy,If you are interested, there is someone on Ebay who sells new, ruffled sheer, criss cross curtains and they are fairly reasonable. Wish I could remember who it is, but you might try Ebay’s search. They are not vintage, but very authentic looking.

      • tammyCA says

        My childhood home had sheer Priscilla curtains (these are the kind that have a cool cross over each other on a double rod) in the dining room and bedrooms…I loved them then, but I don’t think they would work for us now…I always sew my own and change them out a lot. Thanks for the info.

  14. Betsy says

    Hi Pam…someday it would be fun to have readers upload scans of some of the vintage photos of our granny (and great-granny) homes as they stood mid-century. Old photos are so wonderful!

  15. Peter says

    I grew up in a midcentury ranch, but when my wife and I started looking for homes last March, my wife wanted a tudor. We saw lots of cramped little rooms, vaulted ceilings, and damp unfinihsed basments. But when the realtor took us to a small ranch built into a hill overlooking Oyster Bay and owned by a 92 year-old widow – original owner, I felt like I had come home. Pink and grey boomerang formica countertops, knotty pine cabinets with those ubiquitous hinges (you know what I’m talking about), a built in chrome flourescent light above the sink, black and grey fleck linoleum kitchen floor, nutone side exhaust. A black and pink bathroom with grey formica bult in vanity, stars and comets etched into the bathroom light and an old Emerson AM radio built into the bathroom wall – that still worked and had a tag on the inside “installed valentines day 1960.” An open “L” shaped living room/dining room, wood floors throughout, floor to ceiling fireplace in pink, orange and salmon stone and grey slate hearth, big sliding teak windows out onto a 250 sq/ft second floor screen porch that was almost as big as our previous NYC apartment. Three little bedrooms (no master bath) all with corner windows again in teak that have screens on the inside that open up like in an airstream trailer or on a boat and in the hallway where all the bedroom doors converge a giant ceiling exhaust fan. The downstairs has a wood panelled walll, a second brick fireplace, a wood burning stove, and big windows and door leading to a slate patio (because it’s built on a hill the basement is level with the grade on two sides) with a modest fountain. Best of all, the house was pristine. All we did was have the floors cleaned and the walls and ceilings painted. We’ve really enjoyed furnishing our little house midcentury and embraced it for what it is. We found a danish dining set and midcentury Broyhill bedroom set (a mathcing set of high boy, low boy and nightstands purchased from three different sellers), but also new things like a Tate bed from Crate & Barrel and a Nixon sofa from Thrive Home Furnishings. Retro Renovation has been and continues to be a great resource and, at the risk of sounding like a jerk, we always get a little laugh when we see people spending so much money and effort to restore their homes to the condition ours basically came in.

    • tammyCA says

      Our house has a “whole house fan” in the hallway ceiling, too. It is a godsend for saving on the AC…we turn it on when the air outside is cooler and it pulls in the coolness…noisy, but we don’t mind.

  16. Wendy M. says

    So, our house sort of falls in this category. It isn’t a ranch (it’s a one-and-a-half story.) However, it’s pretty much all original from 1964. We bought from the original owner and I was finally able to corner their son this summer and bombard him with questions about the house! He said the only thing that was ever changed were the kitchen appliances (in 1983- the dishwasher and oven/range are still in working order, so we haven’t changed them.) Even the golden orange living room carpet is original! He said his mom rolled out a giant area rug to cover it, so when we moved in, it seemed like new. Dorothy (the original owner) taught home design at Oregon State and designed the house herself (we have all the house plans). Her son said she felt like she got it right the first time, so why would she change anything? She was ahead of her time- I think she included features that certainly wouldn’t have been standard at the time. We’ve had to change very little (a few things were just worn out) and I really appreciate how well they cared for their home. I hope my kids have to drag me out when I’m in my nineties, too!

  17. says

    I have previewed estate homes (Granny Ranch style) where the family proudly recounts the way their mother or grandmother used the kitchen. I remember one daughter boasting about how her mother never touched the birch wood cabinet fronts with her hands. She always used the handles. The cabinets were pristine (drooooool !). The unexposed, unscratched hardwood flooring seems to always be the discovery that I look forward to the most. I do love those homes. I will own one when I’m done with my “supersize” home.

  18. Dawn says

    I am happy as a clam that I can claim “Granny Ranch” for my own usage! She was a second owner but owned it for 55 years and didnt touch a thing. Heck, I kept her drapes even because she had taken such great care of them. We have a few “Udpated” appliances. A 1970’s dishwasher I am SURE was not in the original 1959 design and double wall ovens that were replaced in the 80’s. Now I am “remuddling” it up. :)

    • Peter says

      Occasionally, our neigbors come over and say the previous owner asks them what we’ve changed. Its funny because we basically painted the walls the same color they were, bought a new sage green shag rug for where she had her old green shag rug, grew a wisteria vine where she had to remove the old wisteria vine. We were even using her laundry detergent until it ran out.

  19. The Atomic Mom says

    I just stopped by an estate sale a few weeks ago that was a “granny ranch” house if there ever was one. I live in Los Alamos, NM, which is a MCM haven, not to mention a granny ranch haven. In some of the original neighborhoods (built in the late 1940s and 1950s), there are original owners of the post-war houses built after the Manhattan Project wrapped up. The house was full of granny nick-knacks, pom-pom curtians, built in shelves, wood floors. It was great.

    I’d love to see you do a post about Los Alamos and our MCM housing. It’s quite fascinating.

  20. RAnderson says

    We have a little 900 sq ft “Granny ranch” built in 1955 at the height of IBM’s influence here in Endicott NY, almost identical to the Beatrice West grey & yellow ranch featured a while back. It has most of it’s original details: knotty pine kitchen, glass blocks on each side of the front door, hip roof and high horizontal windows, big picture window with aluminum awning in the LR, a through-wall Nutone kitchen fan (over what was a 40″ double oven GE Liberator push button range but now an ’80s vintage Hotpoint 30″) and wood floors throughout. Unfortunately the original pink tile bath was “updated” to ’70s gold vinyl and fake wood paneling 35 yrs ago. Bought from the original owner in 2005, and yes we wonder every day how in the heck they raised 3 boys in such a small house! It’s just right for 2 empty nesters though, we love it!

  21. RAnderson says

    PS …forgot, best of all , our little 1955 MCModest has a 1961 bomb shelter- great for fire-vulnerable family photos & mementos!

  22. Jennifer says

    We purchased our granny ranch a little over a year ago in the North Hills of Pittsburgh. The story we heard was that the house was built and lived in by the original builder of the ranch homes in the neighborhood, who then sold it to the second owner. She lived here with her husband for 20 years, and when he passed away in 1973, she lived here alone (no kids/ no pets) until she passed away in 2010 when she was 93. We have the original moss green rugs, knotty pine (kitchen, living room with built-ins, dining room with built-ins, basement family room with built-ins, wainscoting in the hall way), slate tile in the hallway, 3 foot tall Roman brick planters/ dividers in the living room, rumpus room with gold flecked VCT, original Brunswick Celebrity pool table, and pinch pleat curtains (some with pom pom trim). The only remodeling done were new windows (they did leave the original marble window sills), toilets/ sinks/ floors in the bathrooms but the original medicine cabinets and jade green tile/ peach tile were left in tact, and in the kitchen, the floor was redone with awful fake brick linoleum and the appliances were replaced, but the original red/orange Formica counter tops with the steel edging still look great. we have the original Nutone door bells and the bathroom and kitchen fans. Pittsburgh has a lot of modest ranches and I have been able to hit many estate sales for nice vintage furniture. Since i don’t want to be featured on Hoarders, I take one step at a time, got my low floating sofa, then coffee table, lamps, next on the list is a nice long dresser for the bed room and a credenza for the dining room. Growing up in New England, I was used to colonial style and admit I was overwhelmed by all the knotty pine at first, thinking I may paint it over, but now i just love it. the wood is so warm and inviting. Probably won’t be able to live with the rug forever, especially in the dining room. the rug is so tough it almost resists the vacuum cleaner, I feel like I need physical therapy every time i finish that task! I so enjoy the camaraderie on the site, thanks Pam and Kate!

  23. Joe Felice says

    I did own & live in one of these. At the time, I neither knew what I had, nor did I appreciate it! I often dream in retro to what I could do with the house if I had it today. Back then, we covered hardwood floors with shag & plush carpet! I now consider that to be a transgression against nature! My house was built in Aurora CO, just outside Lowry AFB in Denver (at the time, Lowry was the largest AFB in the world.) The houses in this area were built after the war to house military families. There were a jillion of them. I have noted that there was a HUGE boom in building in and around Denver during that time, and am amazed at the number of neighborhoods & homes that were build in the ’50s. The building boom must have kept the economy humming, as thousands of workers would have been needed to accomplish what they did. The result was a large number of areas around town with MCM homes of every description. Denver seems to have a building boom (or boomlet) every-20 years, so the next one came in the ’70s, and then again in the ’90s. But between each boom, there is a downturn. They call it the “boom-and-bust cycle.”

    In 1952, my parents bought a ranch in University Hills, one of those sprawling neighborhoods built in the ’50s, and, as I recall, it was considered THE place to live. Back then, that was the eastern edge of Denver, though it has now sprawled many miles eastward since. I remember, we had the optional garage and gas appliances. The stove had to be lit every time mom wanted to use it, and we even had a Westinghouse “Weigh-to-Save” front-load clothes washer! We thought we had it all!

  24. says

    Hello!
    I’ve always referred to my ‘new’ house as ‘Mid Century Modest’ (using your terminology) and was unfamiliar with the term ‘Granny Ranch’. In our house hunting, DH and I saw a LOT of Granny Ranches, and I would think that the house we eventually bought back in late August somewhat cuts it, even though I prefer the Mid Century Modest term!

    Our house is a single-owner property built in 1959 in the sprawling suburbs outside St. Louis. All bathrooms are in original condition (the main floor bathrooms are pink & grey, and coral & green, the basement bathroom is peacock blue). The kitchen had been updated sometime in the 1980s- but the original kitchen cabinets were stored in the basement so I’m in good mind to put them back in one day!

    The basement is decked out as a total party pad. The owners evidently had a thing for Hawaii, and along one entire wall of the finished basement is one of those large wallpaper photos of Hawaiian Flowers, and up the other end of the basement is a Waterfall that lights up (and yes it works!). All around the edges of the basement is like a built in seating area- with lights underneath it. Incorporated into the wall with the wallpaper photo is a box the length of the wall filled with light up fake flowers. Of course, the basement is also complete with a Coral & Green tiled bar area! The basement sounds SO tacky and my husband and I laughed so much when we saw it, but we’ve decided not to change it. We actually really like it! We’re just hoping that the city’s occupancy inspector doesn’t ding us, because we’re not sure how up to code all of the colored lights and water feature are!

    The owners evidently loved the house- and we intend to love and respect it as much as they did.

    Since all of my furniture is from the same era, it will fit right in! :)

    Keep up the lovely work with your site as always, Pam!

    xxx
    Amber

  25. Scott says

    Although I wish it were more a bit more atomic, at least I finally have the appropriate terminology to describe the exterior of my compact 1954 ranch, a mid-century modest! I’ve been grasping for the right words for years.

    Although a mid-century modest can be a bit sleepy on the outside, they are often just neutral enough inside so the way-back dial can be convincingly set at just about any year your heart desires without being in total conflict with the exterior.

    And who knows, maybe during 2013 I can do a few small things to help coax this modest exterior out of its shell a little. :-)

  26. Tina says

    My dream house. What I’m looking for to retire to. And then I can add my own Granny (“YiaYia”) love and touches.

  27. Elaine says

    OK, I have a granny ranch. It even came with the furniture! Nice to know the term. The kitchen appliances are newer, but at 40 or so years of age, they might have needed replacing. The newer oven (age maybe 25 years) is a little iffy, but the neighbor still has her 50s Flair.

  28. Sarah says

    Oh, you are SO describing the 1957 MA home I bought 10 years ago from the original owners! Original everything down to the small kitchen oven, heating system (scary), 110 electrical, pineapple wallpaper and pink & “mint” bathrooms. We had to replace some things for safety reasons and do a lot of electrical work (did people in the 1950s sit in the dark, or what?), but we are careful to preserve the style of the home because it is a classic!

  29. D'Lynne Garner says

    My first in laws had a “granny ranch” and my ex still lives there. His parents adopted him when they were 40 yrs. old, and my FIL had a painting and wallpaper hanging business. I remember the wild flocked and foiled wallpapers he used to hang in the homes of some wonderful brand new mid 1970s homes in Fort Worth (which your recent article reminded me of). But their home still looked like 1950s, when they bought it new. It was furnished with some very nice 1930s-40s family heirlooms in the formal areas, with more modern traditional pieces in the den and kitchen. My MIL never rearranged the furniture or remodeled, but she was meticulous about cleaning. I didn’t see her buy many “new” things for the house, but when she did she only bought quality and took care of it. No garage sale or rummage sale items for her, she only brought in new items. She never got rid of anything sentimental or cherished though, so she had a collection of treasures given to her by family, and my FIL made sure she had a place to display everything. She was definitely “a place for everything and everything in it’s place” sort of person. I remember she used her wedding gift silver-plated flatware for everyday serving, and had for many years, but she envied the shine and ease of the newer stainless steel sets. She bought me a very nice set of stainless that I still use sometimes. I grew up poor in a large family moving from one rental to another because my mother was never happy, so I really loved my in-laws modest and steady home.

  30. LauraLee says

    My husband and I purchased a 1962 granny ranch back in 2000. Unfortunately, the house had been neglected while vacant for over a year so we removed some of those original touches like orange wool carpet in the living room and a ruined wall mural. We finally realized the kitchen needed a re-do, which is really just an update of what was there. We painted everything in 21st century colors at first and are now repainting back to mid-century colors. I think you all have inspired me. :)

  31. Mary T. says

    Pam,
    We moved into a “granny ranch” 2 years ago and are still in love with it! So many amazing original features in beautiful condition since 1957. Original boomerang counter tops, Coppes of Napannee solid maple cabinets, built in aluminum foil/ wax paper dispenser and pop up shelf to hold your mixmaster, and that’s just the kitchen. Now the pressure’s on us to preserve these treasures. But it’s all good!

  32. Geronimom says

    I think you’ve described the 1960 home we bought last summer pretty well. The original owners, “Irene & Frank”, lived there until they both entered nursing homes about 5 years ago. The home is definitely what you’d call “modest” – but loving touches left behind by Frank & Irene abound everywhere – starting with all the homemade, re-purposed materials Frank used to build his workshop in the garage (throw out a perfectly good bathroom vanity mirror just because they upgraded to a larger, newer model? No way! Frank just attached the original old one near the workbench where it’s shelves soon became home to various jars of nuts, bolts, etc.! The shelves in the garage are old cabinet doors turned upside down…That generation definitely didn’t believe in constantly replacing things & wasn’t a “throwaway society” like ours today. Everything got re-used in someway, it seems. Modest though it is, Frank & Irene maintained the home regularly and the tile in both bathrooms is in immaculate condition. There is a built in china hutch in the kitchen. A built-in brick planter in the entryway. A “sewing/craft room” Frank converted from the former utility room for Irene’s sewing hobby. It’s not a fancy home, but when you enter it, you definitely feel the love that lived in this place. I love that we will be a part of continuing on with that! Our story is not typical. This is our second home. We bought it as an investment. We needed someplace to park some inherited money from my late mom’s estate – and the stocks were not doing so well. We ultimately made the decision that investing in a small 1 story home in a neighborhood that we loved, wouldn’t be a bad idea. Our other home is lovely but not the type of place one would really want to live in as a older person – too much maintenance & too many stairs! Just like Frank & Irene – we, too, plan to eventually retire in our “granny ranch” and spend our own golden years puttering around the workshop & garden, etc. Until then, I am having a blast decorating it with my late mother’s furniture (all era-appropriate – lucky me!) and fun thrift store finds. Yeah, I know – we’re not “normal”. Who cares! Everyone asks if we are going to rent it out. No. We aren’t. At least not at this point – unless we end up needing the $. We like having a second place to go hang out – and to put up our relatives when they come to town – this little “granny ranch” is perfect for our needs! ;-)

  33. Morgan says

    When we walked I to the house we are in the process of buying, I turned to my mother and said, “This is Grandma Harriet’s house.” Maybe that’s why I love it so much. It is larger than Mid Century Modest (2.5k SF), but very little has been updated. The original stove is even in the basement. Be still my heart!

  34. Elisha says

    Pam I believe my neighbors house would be
    A granny ranch. We live in a 1964 mid modest
    ranch. When we moved in 16 yrs ago our neighbors
    were a wonderful sweet elderly couple…great typical
    southern cook and the mr. Was always cutting
    Grass and working in his work shed. They both
    Were retired and liked to keep busy. Some years
    Ago the mrs passed away and the mr just had
    To move in with his son…is 95 and just could no
    Longer stay by himself…their house is up for sale now
    And we sure do miss them. She would bake cookies
    For my little girl and he would sit under the Japanese
    Maple with my hubby and talk about golf, the Atl Braves
    And fishing. They were wonderful neighbors for 15 yrs:)
    But the mrs kitchen has the white gold speck laminate
    Counter top, knotty pine walls in den, believe one bathroom
    Is yellow and black trim tile and other is blue or green.
    Oh and the house was a real comforting loving
    Home for her children, grandchildren, and greatgrandkids
    To come home to. I will always have wonderful memories
    Of our “older neighbors” who lived in the house next
    Door to our little brick (first home) and is still our home:)

    • pam kueber says

      Oh my goodness, what sweet memories. My grandmother had a house like this, too. Thanks for sharing!

  35. krissy sandvigen says

    We have recently purchased a 1953 cabin on a creek in Mammoth Lakes CA Reading this article about Granny Ranches has helped us define our new project of restoring our 1000 square foot cabin thank you fro the definition and to this great website for all of your ideas in our restoration project.

  36. Laura says

    I know I’m late commenting, but we live in a neighborhood of “granny ranches”, including our own house. I think part of what contributes to the “granny” feeling so many people describe is that the homes were built new by a generation of people who bought/built a house to raise a family in and stay in for the rest of their lives. The houses absorb all that history and have “souls” as a result. You can just tell when a house has been a much-loved family home rather than a “starter” home or “investment” to be lived in before the occupants move up to the next rung on the property ladder.

    • Joe Felice says

      I do believe what you say is true. Houses DO take on the personalities of those who have lived there. It’s an energy thing–can be positive or negative, depending on the people & what happened there. And we know that some souls have difficulty leaving their residences. I feel a definite connection to some of the places I’ve lived. Whenever I move, I look upon it as closing one book and picking up another.

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