McMansion Hell from A to Z: Part One (A-H)
Hello, Hello! As you may have read from last week’s post, this week’s post is a sort of field guide to the McMansion. As the internet’s self-appointed expert on big ugly houses, I have collected over the years a huge amount of materials, data, and resources on everything “luxury.”
As I sat down to plan this post, I came to the realization, that, taking into account such things as geographical variation (e.g. Texas vs New England), fitting the McMansion into one post would be pretty impossible. So, after a week of dwelling on it, I decided to break it up into three posts, using the letters of the alphabet as a guide. Part One is A-H; Part Two will be I-P; Part Three will be Q-Z.
By the end of this three-part series, my hope is that even the least architecturally inclined (e.g. my relatives) will be able to identify a McMansion from a mile away, and the world will be a better place for it.
So without further ado, let’s begin.
A is for Architectural Anarchy
As you might recall from the post on eclecticism, McMansions can’t just pick one architectural style. They have to have all of them and nine out of ten times, they aren’t integrated together whatsoever.
It’s not just mixing styles that’s the problem, it’s mixing shapes, rooflines, details, sizes, and pretty much everything else into Architecture Mystery Meat.
Here are some examples of Architectural Anarchy. If the house you are looking at looks anything like these houses, it is almost certainly a McMansion:
B is for Beige
It’s no secret that McMansions love beige - and the further west you go, the beiger it gets. Now, not all beige houses are McMansions, but often the BeigeHaus, as it is known around this blog, is almost always cladded with EIFS (fake stucco), and the architectural features almost always have a tacked-on appearance.
Here are a few examples of classic BeigeHauses:
West Coast BeigeHauses:
East Coast BeigeHauses:
C is for Columns
Columns, of course, have their own post. But it’s worth reviewing here. Not all McMansions have columns, but all McMansions with columns use them totally incorrectly.
If the columns look like the ones below, the house you’re looking at might be worth tweeting to me.
D is for Dormers
Yeah, there was that whole post about dormers too, but out of scale dormers are a classic McMansion woe.
If the dormers on the house you’re looking at look anything like these, you’re probably in McMansion Hell:
E is for Entryway
Luckily for everyone here, the McMansion has its own textbook entryway, universally recognizable by all. This entryway consists of three parts:
1.) Arched two-story entry “porch”, may or may not have columns
2.) Large front door, usually double door. (May have sidelights)
3.) Enormous transom window, often with square bottom and arched top
The arch in part one is not as important as the other two parts - often the entry is flush against the surface of the building.
Here are some examples of this textbook McMansion Feature:
In the above example, the transom is visually separated from the door by a portico. On the inside, however, they are all the same space.
Note the pilasters, rather than columns, above.
Any variation of this entryway is one of the most important signifiers that you are looking at a McMansion. It is a textbook feature, and one of the easiest to identify.