Exterior of a mid century rambler blue siding
This period-perfect blue rambler in Seattle has a brightly colored vintage patio set, giving the exterior a true midcentury vibe.

You’ve probably heard the word “rambler” used in the context of mid century houses. You may have even heard “rambler” used interchangeably with “ranch.” But what does it mean for a home to be a mid century rambler?

Mid Century Rambler

A mid century rambler is a one-story home built in the mid century era (usually considered the 1950s and ’60s, with some outliers in the late ’40s and early ’70s). Because they’re one story buildings, ramblers are low to the ground and often create a larger footprint than many two-story houses with the same square footage—thus the term “rambler.” They’re sometimes L- or U-shaped, and often have an attached garage.

But how else can you distinguish a mid century rambler from other styles of home? Here are some of the other key features of this groovy mid century house.

blue and gray living room with open floor plan
The living room in this mid century rambler in Seattle has an open floor plan. Photo by Matthew Gallant, styling by Michelle Faith.

Open Floor Plans

The mid century era saw a move away from the closed-off floor plans typical of Victorian homes. Modern families want to be together while cooking dinner and hanging out. By contrast, in the Victorian era, the upper class often had servants to do those tasks for them, so they wanted to remain in separate spaces. The mid century rambler, in particular, is known for its open floor plan, often between the living room, dining room and kitchen.

mid century rambler living room with vaulted ceilings
The living room in this mid century rambler in Minneapolis has an angled vaulted ceiling in the living room. Photograph by Julia Auerbach.

Vaulted Ceilings

The typical home has 8-foot ceilings, and vaulted ceilings can be anywhere from 11-12 feet or higher. Because ramblers don’t have second stories to restrict the height of the ceilings, vaulted ceilings are a typical architectural feature. They make the house feel tall and luxurious even though from the outside, the structure still looks shorter than other two-story homes.

Kitchen with angled roofline and breakfast nook
This Seattle rambler has windows on all three walls in the kitchen and breakfast nook. This allows it to feel light and airy when the daylight streams in. Photograph by Matthew Gallant, styling by Michelle Faith.

Lots of Windows

Rooms with vaulted ceilings look amazing with lots of windows. The architects who have designed ramblers have discovered this, and the mid century rambler is full of nature sunlight. It’s also a great feature for allowing an indoor-outdoor feel to the home.

exterior of a mid century rambler
This mid century rambler in Minneapolis is a split-level walkout rambler. Even though part of the building has two stories, the whole structure maintains the low-to-the-ground look. Photograph by Andrea Rugg.

Split Levels

While most ramblers have only one story, there are some split level homes that are considered rambler variations. This is true especially if they have some of the other architectural features common to ramblers, as well as that low profile look from the exterior.

Ranch or Rambler?

The mid century rambler is very similar to the ranch, and most of the time, there’s little to no difference between the two house styles. Mostly it depends on what area of the country you’re in to determine whether it’s called a ranch or rambler.

Want to tour one? Check out this mid century rambler in Minneapolis. And don’t forget to follow us on InstagramFacebook and Pinterest for more your daily dose of Mid Century Modern inspiration.