Storybook Book Ranches In The Valley


I apologize that the photos to accompany the text did not upload as planned. I only just realized it!–to see the text, but with the house photos I refer to, please go to my blog “Tarzana Is My Heroine,” where the full post can be found:

Thanks and sorry for the confusion! — Coco


Here are a selection of storybook ranch homes I’ve seen out in Encino, where we live the rest of the time when we’re not in Redlands. These homes epitomize what my favorite retro home blog, Retro Renovation (, would call “mid-century modest” homes.

Fortunately not too many of these homes have been torn down to build Spanish-style McMansions–as happened to one very lovely barn-red storybook ranch home on the corner of Hayvenhurst and Adlon a few years ago. If any of you are familiar with Encino, you may remember the house I’m talking about.

I love the pale yellow exterior of this first house below, and of course the diamond-pane windows on the garage too!

Look at the mix of horizontal and vertical batten boards here (behind the white picket fence!)

I love storybook ranches in barn or carriage red with white trim

Look at the little dovecote tucked just under the eaves

This house below is so attractive with its row of diamond-paned windows, pale green exterior, and the peeling bark of the gum or melaleuca tree in front.

I have in mind starting a project of photographing of every storybook ranch in Redlands–and of course I have a special interest in the ones around Caballero Lane and Crescent Ave., since these were the houses my dad helped Ed Caballero build!

Maybe you can help?


Storybook Ranch Homes, La Sierra




The yellow home on Sierra Vista at the top has fairly pronounced storybook details–see the heavy shake roof and trim–of the many I’ve seen around Southern California.

It also has lovely diamond-pane windows on the other side, but I wasn’t able to get a picture of them without appearing too nosy!

What I particularly like in the second house, just a couple of blocks away, is the dovecote under the eaves.

I think there’s something about birdhouses that feels homey or cozy to us. I imagine it’s because where there’s a birdhouse, by extension, there’s a nest.

If the house has a design that signals that birds are welcome and safe there, I think our unconscious association is that anyone living in such a house will be warm and safe too.

A Storybook Ranch, Balboa Peninsula

I saw this cute yellow ranch house at the end of the Balboa Peninsula in Newport Beach. It looks to be in beautiful condition and hasn’t had exterior “improvements” like new vinyl windows to replace the diamond-paned originals.

I admit that new windows are probably more energy efficient, so there’s that downside to not updating. But I think there’s an aesthetic and even philosophical benefit to keeping the original look:

Keeping original features of an older house can honor the “mid-century modest” ethic (from Pam Kueber of Retro Renovation, This is perhaps just a different kind of energy conservation–that of opting for less consumption and resisting the impulse to spend money in new products just because they’re new and everyone’s doing it. (Kind of sounds like an adolescent mindset when I out it that way, doesn’t it?)

Even if the product one would be buying, in this case, is a greener product, it’s possible that not updating means not consuming the energy it takes to manufacture, transport, install, and dispose of all the materials involved.

I’m sure there are such cost/energy comparisons out there for updating vs. not updating ….

Has anyone seen something like that related to windows?

Another storybook ranch in Encino


Now that I’m thinking regularly about storybook ranch homes, I see them everywhere I go around the San Fernando Valley and the Westside of L.A. There were a few especially nice ones I’ve always noticed, but now I see them constantly. Many are very “mid-century modest,” as Pam Kueber of Retro Renovation calls them, and so don’t stand out. But they are there! Btw, here’s a link to her “Mid-Century Modest Manifesto”–

I’ll post any photos to give an idea of the variety of looks (and various types of ‘upgrades’) these houses have. Some of the cutest ones I’ve seen are painted barn red, and in a future post, I’ll put up pictures of some in my SF Valley neighborhood. The barn-red houses look especially good with the invariably white, almost gingerbread trim.

Ad for a 1953 Storybook Ranch

My house was originally painted in almost this same yellow. We had (and have) carriage lamp sconces, the rafter tails, the diamond mullion windows, and most of the other features seen here.

In the lower picture of the interior, note the fireplace and mantel–they must have come as a unit . . . because I had a small one in my bedroom as a child! I think we had the same fireplace screen too.

Thanks to Retro Renovation, where I saw this image.