Back to Ranch Roots

New layouts both inside and out create warm and welcoming spaces for a California family.

Winter 2008 issue of Better Homes and Gardens, Before & After             Photography by Ed Gohlich


San Diego ’s mild climate lets residents enjoy outdoor living almost all year.  Yet a concrete drive and uninspired ground-level deck wasted much of this ranch house’s backyard.  The interior configuration – a tight entry into a combined living and dining room – was an even bigger problem.  “I’ve never like d a living room and a dining room in one big space,” architect and homeowner Ione Stiegler says.  “I prefer it when they open Before - Frontto one another, but are separate and very distinct.”  With narrow openings to the dining and family rooms, the kitchen felt isolated from family activities.


While mid-20 th-century houses have their fans, Ione decided to take this residence back to the origins of the ranch layout.  “Ranch houses evolved from Prairie and Craftsman traditions,” she says.  “So we reversed the clock and took the house back to its roots.”  Her plan added and rearranged spaces – creating a functional house that Ione and husband Tony could share withBefore - Living Roomtheir two children.  The renovation added 390 square feet, including a new street-facing garage that eliminated the need for a driveway around the side and back.  (Parking had been behind the home, which took up valuable yard space.)

The plan also incorporated a porch, moved the front entry, and added a bow window to a front bedroom.  To separate the living room and dining room, Ione designed a colonnade that runs between them and ends in a window overlooking the garden.

The dining Hallway and Front Doorand living room deviate from the standard ranch-style layout.  The dining room ceiling is 8 feet high at the perimeter with a taller recessed center.  (Ione borrowed space from the attic above.)  A raised roof allows a 12-foot-high ceiling in the living room, which contributes to the airy and updated ambience.

The kitchen, with an enlarged breakfast area and elegant French doors to the pool, features an L-shape work area and an island that doubles as prep and dining space.  The kitchen opens to the family room, redesigned with built-in computer stations.  The family room remains the buffer between the master suite and the rest of the house.  The master suite incorporates a larger bath, redesigned closet – and French doors to the pool and courtyard.



Living RoomLessons Learned:

TAKE A SECOND LOOK: This house was in a desirable neighborhood, but its dull exterior put off potential buyers. Ione Stiegler took the time to plot out potential.

KNOW WHEN TO ADD ON: Even with a revised floor plan, the house was cramped for a family. Adding less than 400 square feet made a huge difference in livability.

KNOW WHAT TO CHANGE: Door and window upgrades update the house, and they boost energy efficiency. French doors provide graceful access to outdoor areas.

Project Manager: Joseph M. Reid


Family RoomBreakfast Area in Kitchen