I 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?”
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.