The brainchild of designer/developer Jean Vandruff, these fairy-tale-inspired ranch houses were an instant hit in Southern California when first introduced by him and his brother Shannon in 1955. Sometimes referred to as “storybook ranches”, these houses differed from other tract homes of the period in that they sported fanciful trim and rooflines which recalled the cottages often depicted in fairy-tales. Other common stylistic features include diamond-paned windows, gable-end dove-cotes and decorative “shutters”.

Vandruff’s creations became so popular that they were franchised to be built all along the west coast and into the center section of the country. Many imitations popped up as well in these and other areas. Sadly, the design integrity of these distinctive houses is increasingly under assault through misguided and indifferent renovations and temporarily faddish “updates”. More about Mr. Vandruff and his houses can be found at where a book on the subject is also available. Let’s take a look at some survivors!

A pair of Cinderella homes mirror each other in suburban Southern California. The house on the right retains its original decorative shutters while the house on the left retains the original diamond-paned windows in the garage (if not elsewhere). Image courtesy of Google Street View.

The roof above this entry typifies the exuberant use of fanciful trim. Photo source:

More details characteristic of Cinderellas. Photo source:

The look was a big hit in Oklahoma City, too. Here builders placed more emphasis on fanciful chimneys. Image courtesy of Google Street View.

Also in Oklahoma, this house sports two tower-like rooms and a cylindrical chimney with spiral motif. Image courtesy of Google Street View.

Diamond pane windows and dove-cotes still adorn this OKC house. Image courtesy of Google Street View.

The exaggerated roofline of this Southern California house nearly touches the ground! Image courtesy of Google Street View.

A large dove-cote, arched windows and sculpted bargeboard distinguish this Cinderella-inspired house in Oklahoma. Image courtesy of Google Street View.

This house may have lost its original bargeboard, but retains a massive chimney and dove-cote in OKC. Image courtesy of Google Street View.

Slightly dilapidated, but retaining lots of original features in Southern California. Image courtesy of Google Street View.

Pretty in pink. Hays, Kansas.

Contemporary colors update this charmer in Southern California. Photo source:

Jean Vandruff. Photo source:

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