I grew up in a tiny three bedroom rancher. Back then, the rancher was the staple of the neighborhood. Two story houses weren’t built until about ten years after my parents moved in. Of course, as a child, I don’t remember thinking the house was small. All of my friends lived in ranchers in the same neighborhood, so I simply didn’t know any differently.
But as I grew older there were definitely times when our house was a little too cozy. Like when my brother got hot and heavy with a hippie chick his senior year of high school. My bedroom and my brother’s bedroom shared a wall. Needless to say, the first night after he brought that girl home, I was forced to move my bed to the other side of the room.
My parents have lived in that same rancher for over twenty-eight years. The other day my mom mentioned that she doesn’t ever plan on moving out of her house. My folks have converted my brother’s bedroom into a home office and they use my old bedroom as a playroom for their grandchildren, my niece and nephew. They remodeled the house, taking down old 1970s paneling, and are in the process of completely re-doing their kitchen. My mom says the house is just the right size for them now and they don’t have to worry about falling up and down steps since everything in the house is on ground level.
As she was telling me about her plans to stay in the house, I started to wonder, where have all the ranchers gone? In new neighborhoods, monstrous homes are being built with multiple bedrooms and bathrooms, playrooms, dens, and home offices. It seems that the rancher may be a perfect home for a small family. After all, when the children grow up and move out, as my brother and I did, the house provides a little extra space, but not so much space, that the house feels empty.