Raised Ranch: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly.

raised ranch
raised ranch, raised ranch ideas, raised ranch decorating ideas, raised ranch updates, raised ranch renovations

What is a Raised Ranch?

Raised ranch, bilevel, split-level…. whatever you want to call it. This term can evoke some very strong opinions from a lot of people.

If you’re unfamiliar with a raised ranch, picture a ranch home with a main floor and a basement that is literally “raised” up in the air half a story, to where half of the basement is now showing at the bottom of the house.

These types of homes were basically created as a way to conserve costs. And they started popping up everywhere in the 60’s and 70’s. So you have all of these older raised ranch homes, which are so different than your typical home, and you end up with all these outdated homes that no one knows what to do with. Myself included.

When you walk in the front door of your typical raised ranch, you will generally see two sets of stairs right inside the landing. One set leads up to the main living area, the other set leads downstairs to the basement. Or at least that’s how it is in our house.

And no matter which entrance you come in, there are always stairs that have to be climbed. (Not to mention bringing in groceries is a major chore!) It really is a factor that should be considered before buying this type of home.

While we took this into consideration for ourselves, we didn’t really think about the impact it would have on our extended family. We have several older relatives that have a hard time coming over for parties, visits, etc due the layout of our home.

Raised ranches can pose many, many challenges from a design perspective with it’s overall setup and typically have a pretty bad reputation. Usually the floor plan is composed of choppy, smaller rooms and the overall curb appeal is sorely lacking.

Why We Chose To Live in One

Which is entirely why when our current home, a raised ranch, was first listed for sale we ignored it completely.

Even though we were looking for a larger home.

Even though it was economically priced for the square footage.

Even though it was in a good neighborhood. And yes, even though it had everything our growing family could possibly want.

We just couldn’t get past the exterior.

But, we finally decided we had nothing to lose and decided just to have a look around. I fully expected after the initial tour to say, it’s a lovely home but no thank you.

However, instead, we were hooked.

It had so much storage. So much potential. Something about the way the main living areas were elevated from street level made the house seem so private. I fell in love with all the character, charm, and quirkiness that this outdated raised ranch offered and was so excited about making it our own.

Except, I couldn’t find any real life examples of a modern, cute, updated raised ranch. I searched Pinterest. I scoured all the info I could find on Google. The only examples I could find were complete interior gut jobs and extravagant curb appeal makeovers that completely changed the looks into something that didn’t even resemble a raised ranch any longer.

And I knew these types of makeovers were not in our budget.

I just wanted to make small, “one at a time” DIY changes like we did to our first home. But I couldn’t find anything. Which is why I didn’t do too much to our home for the first few years. Which is where this blog was born from.

I hope by sharing our budget DIY projects we can maybe help someone who was in our shoes 4 years ago. And maybe, instead of trying to turn a raised ranch into something it’s not, we can learn together how to embrace the raised ranch life and turn our homes into a unique, one of a kind beauty.

Highlight the Positives

Let’s embrace the positives of these types of homes. Let them stand out. Buff ’em until they shine. I picture it like giving them a little facelift. No “cosmetic surgery”, if you will, but highlighting the good parts and camouflaging the not so good.

When we moved into our home 4 years ago, this is what the exterior looked like.

Here it is today.

Raised ranch

*Update: We’ve since painted the door Urbane Bronze. You can read all about how we did that here.

Obviously we still have a ways to go.

We’ve only been able to tackle some minor, inexpensive changes to the outside but yet it still provides a dramatic impact. (To read our full plans for updating our home as well as a full tour, you can click here.)

So you don’t have to wait until you can do everything, or until you can take on even a one room major remodel.

“Inch by inch life’s a cinch. Mile by mile, now that’s hard.” I love this old saying. It used to be hanging in my aunt’s kitchen and every time I was over there I would read it over and over.

That same saying applies to a lot in life but is especially true for home DIY. Just start small. Start somewhere. Just start! Those small projects snowball after awhile and before you know, your house is taking on a new persona. It starts to look like, well, you.

With each little update I post, I hope it brings you some inspiration for your raised ranch. I hope it helps you create a vision for your home, your family. To take it one step at a time, one day at a time.

Yes, it’s overwhelming. Yes, it’s exhausting. But the end result will be so, so worth it!

I hope you join me along the way!


  1. Fonda Webb says

    Good for you for taking this challenge. I too have a similar home and limited budget. However, my family and I have been in our home for 10 years. We did our first renovations inside (kitchen and bath) as that is my specialty as a design professional. Now I am desperately trying to work on the exterior with a limited budget so its wonderful to see your Ideas. My home has a combination of cedar batten and brick with two horizontal roofs. I believe your home has a larger living and dining space as mine has a larger kitchen (15×16).
    Good luck on all your design features…I’ll be watching:)

  2. Samantha Bushika says

    This is EXACTLY the position I am in. We are closing on August 7th, 2020. Our 1st home. We have a newborn, a 3 year old and my 13 year old stepdaughter, for whom we need to make a room for on the sublevel. We don’t have much money. I’m 40 years old and this is ny 1st home and we vorrowed the down payment and closing costs ur raised ranch is gordeous. Our has yellow siding and the front yard is a steep hill on which I want to put a Pergola because there is no front porch. I LOVE most of the house. It still has the outdated bathrooms and the sublevel has probably the sane wall paper as 1974, when it was built. I can’t wait to explore more if your renovations. Any ideas on building a inexpensive 13 year ok’d girls room on sublevel?? Please?? Lol thank hou for this!

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