Minnesota Classics: Ramblers

Minnesota Classics: Rambler
photo credit: Custom ASAP blog

It seems that ramblers are quite Minnesotan in nature.  Humble.  Solid.  Nice.  Attractive.  Not showy or flashy, but dependable and accommodating. Casual. Functional.  They’re a classic form of Minnesota real estate and are currently enjoying a revival in popularity.

One story homes have always been around, but as an architectural showpiece they got their first shot at the spotlight when Frank Lloyd Wright used the style for some of his signature 20th Century designs. They got a huge boost in post-WWII building boom, and their popularity skyrocketed. An increase in home ownership in Minnesota and around the country meant that many neighborhoods needed to be built quickly and efficiently for returning GIs eager to put down roots with their families. Ranging from sprawling and stunning to compact and familiar–by 1950 ramblers accounted for 9 out of every 10 homes built in the US.

Ramblers, also known as ranch homes, have a lot going for them. Ramblers emphasize the upside of a single story home.  Typically, ramblers have many of the following features:  single story; low-pitched roof; rectangular, L-shaped, or U-shaped layout in a simple floor plan; large windows; deep-set eaves; attached garages; efficient use of space; sliding glass doors leading to a backyard patio and simple décor with minimal decorative detailing. For many, the idea of one-level living is appealing.  If your knees are bad or your balance isn’t what it used to be, stairs can be daunting.

photo credit: DC UrbanTurf
photo credit: DC UrbanTurf

Ramblers are increasingly popular with younger home buyers. Gen X and Y buyers view them in a positive light, having either preservationist ideals or due to the ease of remodeling these homes.  Atomic Ranch magazine, only published since 2004, has 80,000 subscribers who celebrate this simple midcentury classic. It’s relatively simple to create an open floor plan or  vaulted ceilings (which you can’t do if there’s a second story above you).  Ramblers are easy to renovate, remodel and update. As split-level designs became popular in the 70s, ramblers lost some of their appeal, but their simple, efficient design remains popular even today.  Ramblers are most definitely “Minnesota nice.”


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