The perfect home style for indoor/outdoor living? It might just surprise you!

Love indoor/outdoor living? Don’t overlook the ranch home! This California ranch is the ultimate example of how this classic home style can facilitate a casual lifestyle while also embodying a modern aesthetic and help meet sustainability goals.
A dining room that opens completely to the outdoors through corner connected Liftslide Doors.
When you think of a ranch style home, you might imagine tract homes in a mid-century subdivision, and if you grew up in a home like that, this style might seem a bit uninspiring. But we challenge you to let go of this belief by exploring the Caterpillar House — a perfect case study in what makes the ranch home so modern, versatile, and beautiful. Designed by Feldman Architecture, the project was led by founding partner, Jonathan Feldman, FAIA. The home elevates the signature elements of this style in a design that celebrates natural light, easy access to the outdoors, and modern sensibilities. We’ll show you what we mean. 

The beauty of a single-story layout

A ranch home is classically one-level, and this home is no different, though floor-to-ceiling glass makes the home appear larger. The Caterpillar House is located in the Santa Lucia Preserve (20,000 acres), which is a land trust conservancy between Carmel-by-the-Sea  and Big Sur in California. Due to conservation deeds in place, 90% of the land is protected from being built upon — a challenge that inspired a creative solution. Although the home’s footprint is a relatively modest 2,800 square feet, it gains additional space outdoors. Feldman Architecture created an s-shaped floor plan whose curves create distinct outdoor rooms that act as extensions of the home “spilling indoor living spaces into shaded outdoor patios, blending inside and out,” he said.  
A modern ranch that spreads horizontally across the top of a hill with large overhangs and walls made of glass.
This interpretation of a California ranch celebrates natural light and easy outdoor access, including through distinct outdoor rooms created through the s-shaped floor plan. 
“The structure’s smooth s-shape maximizes connection between indoor and outdoor living spaces.”
Part of the reason these outdoor rooms work so well is because of the Liftslide Doors that meet at corners to “dissolve” the walls. You can think of these doors as a moving glass wall system because of their massive size and how they function. Adding to the effect are the clerestory windows along the ceiling, which help to fully erase the walls and immerse the home in its stunning landscape. And if you think too much glass could end up making the home feel overexposed, remember the sinuous floor plan that defines the outdoor rooms also helps keep them in scale with the indoor rooms. What’s achieved is a natural flow between indoors and outdoors that’s made possible by the ranch home’s signature single-story design and the use of large-scale windows and doors.  
A hilltop ranch home with a large overhang covering a patio that’s connected to the home through large Liftslide Doors.
Liftslide Doors meet at corners so two walls can be opened up at once, uniting indoors and outdoors seamlessly. 
“Our design focused on a single floor layout that is deeply immersed in the surrounding landscape and incorporates meaningful and efficient sustainable design strategies.”

A profile that’s passive friendly

The open layout and long, low-slung profile — more hallmarks of the ranch home — also help promote passive heating and cooling strategies. Cross ventilation is created through the strategic placement of windows and doors. Generous overhangs and operable sunshades help protect the home, which is oriented along an east-west axis, from too much of the sun’s heat during the summer while still allowing heat gain when it’s needed in the winter. Additionally, the dual-pane glass and low-emissivity coatings on the windows and doors help to keep the home comfortable in all seasons.  
A terrace with overhead beams that accommodate retractable sunshades.
The overhangs and operable sunshades help keep the terraces and courtyards — the outdoor living rooms — comfortable in various conditions. 
A terrace with overhead beams that accommodate retractable sunshades.
“The south and west patios allow the building envelope to dissolve in response to the sunny or shaded terraces depending on the temperature and seasons.” 
These passive approaches are complemented by other sustainability strategies built into the home, such as radiant-heated concrete floors, recycled denim insulation, rainwater collection tanks that provide for the property’s irrigation needs, and a solar array that produces 115% of the home’s annual energy requirements. In fact, this home was the first custom home on California’s Central Coast to achieve LEED Platinum certification. 
An exterior shot of the home lit up at twilight and viewed from one end so the angle of the roof and glass walls are on display.
The windows and doors that make indoor/outdoor living so natural and connect the home so strongly to the land also bring tangible sustainability benefits due to careful design. 
“The home’s offset curves respond to the site’s gentle sloping contours.”
By emphasizing the qualities of a single-story, low-slung, open ranch home, Feldman Architecture elevated this style in a way that’s truly optimized for indoor/outdoor living.

Looking for more inspiration?

Justina Blakeney stands outside her stucco Spanish Colonial Revival home in front of an open E-Series Hinged Patio Door surrounded by potted plants, a chair, and a giraffe statue.

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A living room with one wall that completely opens up to the pool area outside.

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