Updating ranch house exteriors

We’re thinking the rage for mid-century modern has just about run its course, and something else will have to take its place. While we loved the idea of a small, vintage house in a great neighborhood full of old trees and great restaurants and independent bookstores and one-of-a-kind shops, we knew that just wouldn’t work for the lives we’re really living.If it’s hard for you to imagine the big 70s split-level having the same kind of appeal, we get that. We’ve got two adults and a revolving door of three getting-bigger kids (with other parents who live about 60 miles apart from each other).We’re a financially-stretched, stirred family with members who need both proximity and space.

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I’ve worked in this city (because it is a city in its own right) for years, and I always took some pride in living somewhere else.

I’d tell people where I worked with a smirk, quick to add that I didn’t actually But here I am now, and I’m damned if I’m going to be all hangdog and sheepish about where we live–or spend the years we’ll be here wishing I were somewhere else.

We may be five minutes from chain restaurants, discount retailers, and a warehouse grocery store (by car, of course), but we’re determined to make this our version of the American Dream. We think the suburban split-level may be a house whose time is coming, and we want to tell you why–so you can get in while the gettins’ good.

While a city neighborhood full of mid-century ranches and small, independent businesses would be cool and all, it wouldn’t get us the things we’re really yearning for. (And because if more people who like what we like join us, the community will change in ways we’d like.) No, there isn’t the kind of hipster cool we see in Portland: But there’s still a kind of cool.

Simplicity and sustainability are ideas we like a lot. It’s just a different kind of old-school cool (now that the ’70s were 40 years ago).

Buying a house we can afford that works for the life we really live (as opposed to one we might dream about) seems like a different kind of cool. Maybe our community isn’t full of great stuff and interesting people. We’ve got sidewalks and streetlights and just as many big trees as any established city neighborhood. While corner lots always tend to have more space, those aren’t the only ones with some breathing room.

Our front yard isn’t particularly large, but it feels spacious because there’s a nice distance between our house and the neighbors on either side: We like our neighborhood so much better than many of the new neighborhoods we see, with houses all crammed together on postage-stamp lots, nothing much more than paint color to distinguish one from the other. But we see so much potential here, especially for people like us.

Our neighborhood has an organic, grown-over-time quality that we just don’t see in new developments. (Meaning, people with more energy than money, who like a good project and want to make a place their own.) Take a look at this home, which was on the market for less than a week before a “sale pending” sticker appeared on the realtor’s sign: This is a project house, for sure–but when we look at it we don’t so much see the dated color scheme and too-cute window boxes and boxy shape as we see that sweet bay window and space for kids and the trees framing three sides of the house.

You can’t see it, but there’s a large side yard and a creek that runs along the back of the property.

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