stukintx

Move Over McMansions, the McModerns Are Here: Better, Worse or Same?

stukintx
August 27, 2018
last modified: August 27, 2018

So it looks like McModerns have replaced McMansions as the “house to build”. Are they better, worse or the same? Where we live in Texas, it seems like literally all the houses built in the last 30 years are ugly. And the nice, older homes are all razed so a monstrosity can be built on the lot. :(


Edited to add the first link below to the original article: https://www.curbed.com/2017/6/30/15893836/what-is-mcmansion-hell-modern-suburbs-history

https://www.cbsnews.com/media/10-mcmoderns-that-are-taking-over-from-mcmansions/

https://www.familyhandyman.com/smart-homeowner/say-goodbye-to-the-mcmansion-and-hello-to-the-mcmodern/view-all/


Comments (102)

  • Joe T.

    Ms. Wagner ... consistently displays a barely veiled contempt for anything bigger than she can afford.

    If you only read the funny bits of her blog, I can see why you think that way, as the homes she skewers are by definition, large. She has several articles where she demonstrates good design in current large houses. Start here— http://mcmansionhell.com/post/148605513816/mcmansions-101-what-makes-a-mcmansion-bad

    Modernism too shall come to pass.

    Already did—followed by Brutalism and Post-Modernism.


  • ninigret

    Ms. Wagner ... consistently displays a barely veiled contempt for anything bigger than she can afford.

    oh, i do love that quote. that is basically what i use as my 'snark check'. i ask myself, can i go right out and buy one? if so, i allow myself to be disdainful of others that would choose it or aspire to it. if i cant, well, i'll just shut up about it. : )

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  • PRO
    Mark Bischak, Architect

    Architecture is an art. Not all those that practice it are qualified. Not all those that experience it possess the sensibility. The final judgement is left up to the individual to determine if it should be placed upon a pedestal, or held to the refrigerator with a magnet (then next week thrown in the trash).

  • RaiKai

    @galore2112 I was not one who made that comment but in my line of work I am involved in people buying and selling houses and get to know quite a bit about people’s finances as a result. People selling and buying their 3rd house in 10-15 years, or buying new a couple years away from “retirement”, and still putting only 5% down (minimum here) and taking on bigger and bigger mortgages and being house poor on their incomes - not putting a lot or anything into other savings. Mind you I am currently in a more a MCOL area so not a place where people have little option but to put the minimum down if they ever want to get into market, like in some HCOL areas, and to me it seems risky - but of course I also recall the sting of 2008 well.

    But for them the new impressive house (not necessarily a “McMansion”, mind you, but generally more expensive and “fancier” house than the last) they “need” to have trumps living below their means and a healthy retirement account (or they still expect to use their illiquid house value in retirement despite showing a trend to not exactly build much equity).

    I don’t think this is surprising. Analysis in the US by the federal government indicates the average retirement savings to be insufficient and many people have none at all. Why would McMansion dwellers be automatically different than that trend?

    It is not the case for everyone of course, heck I know people don’t bat an eye and who pay cash for their $1,000,000 plus pads, or whose big house mortgage is easily within a comfortable budget for them, but some people really are all about putting off appearances they ARE the Joneses even if behind the scenes they are scrambling to keep afloat.

  • Snaggy

    I hate Mcmansion.. McModens and McDonalds !

  • greenfish1234

    Stuk that was a good article but not snarky enough to call out "incomplete arches..." I'm not into it quite enough to want to learn the geometry behind good design but I do always love a quick lesson on why things look "off." I don't have any design background but I have a curse for seeing what is wrong and I always love a quick primer on WHY it looks wrong.

  • palimpsest

    Ms. Wagner ... consistently displays a barely veiled contempt for anything bigger than she can afford.

    I am not sure why discussions about the disintegration (my opinion) of architectural taste always has to devolve into discussions about money, class and financial solvency.

    One of the earmarks of a McMansion, or a miniMcMansion, (or a townhouse mini McMansion or Sliver/Middle finger house for that matter)...one of the earmarks is supposed to be anyway...that it is construction that is striving to look more impressive and more expensive than it really is.

    It's more expensive these days to build something simple with a lack of superfluous detail than it is to build or buy a McMansion style house of whatever size, and much more expensive to build a classically elaborate mansion to the level of quality that mansions once had over the average build.

    At its' heart a McMansion is a tract house with pretensions, and the person who buys one may do so at great savings over buying something else. I still think most people buy them because they are there in the right spot and they are newer construction and people think new will be less worry-free.

    The buyer of this house

    or this one

    may actually end up being more house poor than this one: at least where I live. The above are both more expensive than this last one


  • Joe T.

    I am not sure why discussions ...

    It becomes snob vs. boor quite quickly, eh? Similar to how the Mies adage Less is More morphed into Less Costs More. It also becomes easy for an apparently aggrieved party to dismiss snarky yet on point criticism as mere class envy, while ignoring salient points.

    I still think most people buy them because they are there in the right spot and they are newer construction and people think new will be less worry-free.

    Exactly this. Here's my experience— transferred across the country and needed a house rather quickly in the right school district and contract fell through on a brutalist house (long story re inspection and bad 'improvements'), so we ended up with a 14 room monstrosity we hated. My wife's one word email back to me when I sent her the link was "McMansion."

    As soon as our son graduated high school, we put that house on the market and it sold quickly to a couple who was transferred across the country... Rinse and Repeat

  • palimpsest

    And this:

    Is a much better value than this

    If you are looking at price per square foot. The price per sq foot is over $100 different, the price difference is that of an entire house in many locations, they are in similar neighbhorhoods (actually the top house is probably slightly better by some criteria). And the top house has a garage which adds $100K. Many people would buy the cheaper house for various reasons. Many people would think the cheaper house more expensive and impressive for various reasons.

  • RaiKai

    palimpsest said: “At its' heart a McMansion is a tract house with pretensions, and the person who buys one may do so at great savings over buying something else. I still think most people buy them because they are there in the right spot and they are newer construction and people think new will be less worry-free.”

    I think this is accurate. I like Houzz - and the discussions on design - but I think sometimes there is a tendency amongst discussions - or even in feedback to questions - to forget that for many people their house is not meant to be or intended to be statement of great architectural design. They aren’t worried about lustful curb appeal or a high end kitchen. It’s meant to be a *home*. And they buy the houses that suit their budget and location. Most people’s houses won’t ever be featured on the cover of AD, or even make someone’s Houzz Ideabook. But people and families and pets will live there, and live there, and fight there, and eat dinner there, and entertain there, and grow up there, and cry there - and in the tapestry of it all of will be *home* and for many will hold sentimental value to them that trumps its appearances, even with an unfinished arch of a senseless turret. Of course the opposite can happen too - a dream house with envious architecture, yet an unhappy home.

    Or heck, maybe they just always dreamed of a turret and this was an affordable way to get one. I am in viewing distance of a multi-million build on an acreage with a turret, and think why shouldn’t someone on a smaller budget have one if they want one. I may not like them, but it’s not my house, and I like them no less on a “McMansion” than I do on that multi-million dollar build where it is “well done” and architect-designed. Turrets are not for me, but why should I plead to take them away from someone who loves them. Apply “turret” to any other feature disparaged as superfluous, bad design, and “for show” only.

    I live in what many here would disparagingly call a “tract” home on a tiny postage stamp lot and some posters would likely tell me to tear down and start over if I asked a question even about landscaping - though it lacks in attempts to impress or appear expensive with its snout garage and rectangular box form, which is something I personally kind of like about it as it satisfies my own desire to keep things simple - but it is a home that works for us, our chosen housing budget, our lifestyle, our other goals and I feel safe and secure and comfortable there. It is easy to live in and just last night I was talking to my husband about how much I love the size (under 2,000sf) and “flow” of it. Is it my dream home in terms of design and location? No. Am I concerned about likely never living in my dream home? No. It’s just not a priority for me to spend my time and more money than I did - or make compromises that would require like a long commute or moving somewhere where I could not work - to achieve that. For others, it is. And that is okay too. I admit hate to see people risk financial instability to do that, but as palimpsest pojnts out, many may be doing the opposite by buying a McMansion. And at end of day, it is also not my money so I need to remind myself to not project my own priorities, choices, or circumstances onto others.

  • Chessie

    "I need to remind myself to not project my own priorities, choices, or circumstances onto others."


    Gosh that goes against the entire grain of the HOUZZ forums, doesn't it??


    :-)

  • C Marlin

    I'm glad to see others pointing out the snobbery shown in this thread.

    There seems to be many assumptions made about the people who design, buy, live in homes another person dislikes.

    Its sad to see pejorative threads run faster than nice ones.

  • RaiKai

    @Chess - oh not just Houzz but against most of the Internet! As I noted, it was a reminder to myself more than anything as I can often fall into the same trap sometimes of forgetting - or ignoring - that there are people on other end of a user name (or a bot...) ;)

  • PRO
    Virgil Carter Fine Art

    "...And at end of day, it is also not my money so I need to remind myself to not project my own priorities, choices, or circumstances onto others..."

    This is an excellent comment and advice.

    That said, we should also remember when folks post their proposed home designs and ask for comments, it's important to be clear, honest and to the point. That doesn't mean being rude. It means a clear, honest and succinct architectural review.

    Now, the house mothers will say, "It's their home and they can do what they want to!" And that's very true. No one is suggesting otherwise.

    But...if one asks a question, one should expect an answer.

    After all, that's the purpose of this particular forum on building new homes.

  • PRO
    Mark Bischak, Architect

    As most people do not get a therapeutic massage to get tickled, I would hope most people do not post their proposed house design here on Houzz to receive strictly compliments. Most criticism has a constructive vein that can be very useful if sought out and applied. I personally restrain from using the phrase, "Your design sucks", regardless of the appropriateness of its application.

  • PRO
    Virgil Carter Fine Art

    I remind folks, from time to time, that a frequent critique method in architectural school is for the faculty to throw a student's finished model out the third floor studio window, or...alternatively...put it on the studio floor and jump on it.

    That's the sort of critique architectural students learn to understand and build from.

    Consumers here on Houzz have no idea what a strong architectural critique can really be...

  • PRO
    Mark Bischak, Architect

    Some architecture has an underlying beauty that is not apparent at first glance.

    This masterpiece was designed by a guy that was an officer in the civil war and laid-off Louis Sullivan.

  • PRO
    Mark Bischak, Architect

    I need to "Like" Virgil's last comment two more times.

  • greenfish1234

    Can't we hate (and hate ON) bad design without hating the residents therein? There is a difference, and while there is unnecessary rudeness on this forum, I don't see why it is so bad to have a little fun at the expense of inanimate objects.

  • Bryan Lovely

    Mark Bischak, Architect I like that one, even if it looks a bit like a supervillain's headquarters. But context is everything, right? It would look utterly horrible surrounded by one-story tract houses.

    I'm not going to be a snob about the people who buy McMansions/McModerns/McWhatevers -- I expect they're mostly buying the house they think they can afford, and their architectural sensibility consists of pointing to a plan book and saying "French chateau sounds nice, so, um... that one?"

    I reserve my scorn for the "architects" who design those plans in the first place. For every out-of-scale two-story entry, or jumbled roofline, or palladian windows for no reason, I strongly suspect there's some "trained" architect who's trying to "deconstruct the classical forms" or some other BS they learned in school, rather than build houses that are beautiful because they respect art, traditions, and human beings. And don't get me started on "houses are machines for living" and that Le Corbu/New Socialist Man c**p. Ptui.

    (Or, maybe, it's just the guy who graduated at the bottom of his class and should never be allowed to load up a CAD program, and the only architectjob he could get was grinding out house plans.)

  • palimpsest

    There seems to be many assumptions made about the people who design, buy, live in homes another person dislikes.

    Of course, and that's a problem of sorts.

    But on the other hand, this thread isn't about a particular person or a particular house, it's about a type of design, and this is a design forum.

    It would be preferable if design could be discussed in the purely in the theoretical rather than on the personal level. It can't be, completely, but I also think that we live in a culture that tends to take any comment, particularly negative comments about something in the most general terms as if it is directed straight at them, if they can identify with any particular facet of the topic of discussion at all. To the point if someone makes a joke about death, someone has to pipe in and say "Hey my mother just died ten years ago and I am still upset about it. You are a terrible person to make jokes about death!"

    Really whatever. These houses were first identified as a type in 1990 and there is culturally a general opinion that these houses are ugly. And unfortunately there are also some stereotypes and biases that go along with the house. And like all stereotypes there is some truth to it and there are many exceptions to it. Ultimately the discussion is about the house and the phenomenon rather than about particular individuals who own them. It would be nice if those things could be discussed separately.

    I still go back to my thesis that why people buy these houses is much more complicated than that the buyer thinks they are the most beautiful thing they've ever seen.

    One, I think that a lot of people don't care. Or they don't care enough to worry about it. The house is where they want it to be at the price they want and it has amenities they want.

    Two. People like what is popular. To some people that's all taste is. They like what they are supposed to like in the milieu they are in. They don't want to stand out. They want to fit in. Even if they design it they are going to build what they are used to seeing. I think a lot of people figure that someone who knows better than they do decided this was a good thing and they are going to go along with that. They are going to go along with the neighborhood. They are going to build what they can sell. They are going to build to the norm of the area.

    In both this forum and the home decorating forum people are continually steered away from doing something at all unique because if they do they will have a hard time selling the house so some anonymous future buyer. "Taste Specific" is a bad word (and is not used about the very specific prevailing tastes that everyone is urged to adhere to). But even to the point of paint colors and wallpaper. People are building a house or have just bought a house, and picking colors or wallpaper, and someone always pipes in and says "You know, if I were to walk in your house when it 's for sale and see that (paint color/wallpaper), I would turn around and walk out because all I could think of is having to repaint or remove that wallpaper. If feel like eventually everyone is going to live in a series of long term hotel rooms. Anonymous, decorated to the prevailing trends, and having amenities X, Y, Z.

    Finally, for what it is worth, and it may be different because I live in an urban area, not a suburban area: My SO is a Realtor, and has not sold a single house because if what it looked like on the outside. The last clients said they thought the outside of the house they bought is ugly, but not as ugly as some. A current client pays so little attention to the outside, that you can't even used the exterior as a descriptor. She doesn't even Know what the outside looks like. Tell her what the bathroom or kitchen looks like and she remembers. Tell her where the laundry was as she remembers. The outside is not in the equation.

  • worthy

    Frank Furness' National Bank of the Republic

    Geeze! Stop making us have to look things up.

    Brooke House, Birdsboro, Pennsylvania. arch. Frank Furness, 1887.

    42 rooms and 13,700 sf. Oh, the waste when so many Americans lived in poverty.

    And, as Kate might sneer, why the lone half-moon window? the hidden front entrance? etc.




  • PRO
    Virgil Carter Fine Art

    "...the only architectjob he could get was grinding out house plans..."

    What many consumers don't understand is that architects who specialize in single-family new and remodel projects, or for whom these projects are a sizeable percentage of their overall practice is that...

    Single-family projects are often money losers for architects. They take more time, more hand-holding, more conferences and calls, more changes of mind, more revisions than virtually any other building type. The fees are lower, the time involved is greater, and the angst is often higher than any other building type.

    This is why drafters, CAD operators and builder's employees have learned to manage time and expense, by only designing one thing at a time, beginning with the first floor plan. When that "first step" is approved by the consumer, these folks than move to the next step, the second floor plan. Eventually they will get around to elevations and roof plans, one step at a time.

    This "stair-step" approach, one step at a time, is the way drafters, CAD operators and builder's employees manage consumers, time commitments and changes, minimizing all these to the absolute minimum required.

    And, of course, seldom is there any critical evaluation of a consumer's stated desires; the drafters, CAD operators and builder's employees simply give a consumer what the describe, whether or not the consumer understands the implications. Forget getting any better, more practical or more creative ideas.

    Architects design completely differently, exploring and studying all of the architectural elements in coordination with one another. Architects will listen to a consumers wants and needs, but will also apply experience, judgment and critical review.

    And I'll point out that architects who specialize in single family homes and remodels do so because they genuinely love the type of project and working with consumers.

    If they didn't truly enjoy working on single-family projects, they would spent all their time on much more profitable projects, and retire early.

    And as for "..."architects" who design those plans in the first place. For every out-of-scale two-story entry, or jumbled roofline, or palladian windows for no reason...", chances are these are the sorts of decisions and designs by drafters, CAD operators and builder's employees...not architects.

    Finally, I'm willing to bet every architect who participates in this forum can take one look at a posted plan and immediately tell if it was designed by an architect or if it was designed by a drafter, CAD operator or builder's employee. And this includes all of the plan-factory plans, and plans by owners. Few consumers can do this or even understand the differences in various plans.

  • Chessie

    "You know, if I were to walk in your house when it 's for sale and see that (paint color/wallpaper), I would turn around and walk out because all I could think of is having to repaint or remove that wallpaper. "


    LOL! I have said that, in this forum, somewhere. (I don't care a whit about paint, but I never want to see wallpaper again.)

  • functionthenlook

    Worthy, there was a lot of wealthy people in PA at the time due to our abundance of our natural resources. The porch was designed to protect visitors from the PA weather. To the left is a carriage portico. The wealthy couldn't get rain or snow on them. lol The family didn't use the whole house. The 3rd floor would of been for the servants that kept up the house, serviced the family and grounds. Sometimes there would be several generations of the same family living in the house. The males of the family would marry and the new bride would move in with his family.

  • palimpsest

    Brooke House, Birdsboro, Pennsylvania. arch. Frank Furness, 1887.

    42 rooms and 13,700 sf. Oh, the waste when so many Americans lived in poverty.


    Maybe the more things change the more they stay the same.

    The owner of one of the small practices I work in lives in a McMansionish mansion of 13,000 square feet (It's McMansionish because other than the appliances and the kitchen cabinets the quality of materials in no better than any development house).

    But, it has many less than 42 rooms, and is lived in by himself and two adolescent boys and recently the girlfriend has moved in (who is somewhere between his age and that of the adolescent boys). And he is not "wealthy" like the owners of Brooke House were.

    So he doesn't have a large family, he doesn't have an extended family and he doesn't employ any staff to take care of it as would have lived at Brooke House.
    When he was married, his mother in law lived over the garage and was cook, nanny, maid and general doer of everything he was too important to do, and she did it for her room over the garage just like the lowest of Victorian staff did, (for a place to sleep and food), not even the status of "housekeeper".

    Since the divorce he refuses to actually pay anybody to do any of this and the house is falling into wrack and ruin.

    At least the Brook House served as housing and employment for a relatively larger group of people.

  • Bryan Lovely

    Virgil Carter Fine Art I was referring to the hypothetical bottom-of-the-class architect who works for the plan book company, whose instructions are "We need 25 each of French Country, Victorian, MCM, Colonial, and Farmhouse, from 2-5 bedrooms, a great room, and a mudroom. By next week. Go!" :-)

  • cpartist

    I still think most people buy them because they are there in the right spot and they are newer construction and people think new will be less worry-free.

    This is the place my sister is at right now. She's moving from one state to another and just sold her charming late 1930's house. In the new area she's looking are only McMansions or at least McMansion wannabe's. The houses are almost double the size and has the fake shutters, jut outs, angled interiors, etc. Gag me with a spoon but it's that or live in her car at this point.

  • cpartist

    I reserve my scorn for the "architects" who design those plans in the first place. For every out-of-scale two-story entry, or jumbled roofline, or palladian windows for no reason, I strongly suspect there's some "trained" architect who's trying to "deconstruct the classical forms" or some other BS they learned in school, rather than build houses that are beautiful because they respect art, traditions, and human beings.

    I think most aren't designed by architects. Most are designed by "design/build" firms which employ draftsman who call themselves designers. And 99% of those "designers" never even took an art 101 course.

  • RaiKai

    @palimpsest said: "Finally, for what it is worth, and it may be different because I live in an urban area, not a suburban area: My SO is a Realtor, and has not sold a single house because if what it looked like on the outside. The last clients said they thought the outside of the house they bought is ugly, but not as ugly as some. A current client pays so little attention to the outside, that you can't even used the exterior as a descriptor. She doesn't even Know what the outside looks like. Tell her what the bathroom or kitchen looks like and she remembers. Tell her where the laundry was as she remembers. The outside is not in the equation."


    I don't think you (or your SO) are far off the mark on that one and I admit I am one of those who looks more at inside over the outside. I am currently in a planned community in my smaller city's limits, but it is still rather densely built ("low density" is a bit of a misnomer!), but I have lived in all variety of urban, to suburban, even a bit of country. I think there was a time maybe I was more concerned with the "curb appeal" - my first house as a younger 20-something in a then-LCOL I can recall being worried about it - but as I have lived almost two decades longer, moved around more, traveled a lot more, experienced a variety of homes and layouts - both ones I have personally lived in and that of friends and family, it is of very little concern, and definitely also affected by local markets - and local norms or realities for residential housing.

    The outside of my house is rather bland. I am sure to others it would also be ugly (it is not that offensive to me but I know it would be to others, including some here with a disgust of snout garages and the like!) But I absolutely love the interior layout, which though a builders plan we modified to suit our small family of two plus furry one and preferences. I have looked at lots of houses, old and new, with great curb appeal but inside, they just did not feel "right" to me, or were not functional for my own lifestyle, or would require substantial work to make "right" for me and substantial renovations are just not something I am interested in doing again. When I am at home, I spent a lot more time living in my house than standing outside looking at it, so for me the interior will always win out and the exterior is not high on the priority list.

    Sure, one can I suppose have both great curb appeal and exterior design and a wonderful interior layout, but again, then it becomes about budgets, timing, priorities, locations, and so on.

    I did live in one home that had fantastic curb appeal and lovely exterior design in my opinion, a then 110+ year old 2 1/2 story home with wonderful charming exterior details and finishes. The funny thing is that it was a house I ended up with because of timing and needing to move into something fairly quickly. And admittedly the inside was wonderfully finished and maintained, with lots of original wood and built ins. But, the inside never felt quite like "home" for me, it was just not "me". I found it too dark yet I would never have painted the wood myself. And the layout for me was much too choppy and segmented into various rooms and halls, with more size devoted to "formal" areas which were hardly used and less size devoted to "private" areas, which were much used. It also felt "fussy" for me, with the details - I am someone who prefers a more simple and minimalist aesthetic. So it was beautiful and full of character, just not compatible to *my* character or lifestyle, or even how I would prefer to furnish a home, and I would not have felt good transforming it into something it was not - I hope the next owners loved it as it is. There is an old Tudor "mansion" in my city listed for sale in a rather desireable now-urbanized area. It has great curb appeal, and the price, which has dropped quite a bit, seems fairly reasonable. And the photos of the inside show an original - not renovated to open concept but wood finishes, a maze of rooms, beautiful windows....and to me I just see a beautiful house I would never feel at home in, would not suit my own preferences for interior finishes and furniture, and would be costly to maintain as well. I learned my lesson! I will let others be the stewards of the past.

    My husband would happily live in a small apartment adjoined to a giant garage, or a very obvious "shouse" because to him that would be functional and livable, even if far from pleasant to look at from the outside :)

  • beckysharp Reinstate SW Unconditionally

    I was referring to the hypothetical bottom-of-the-class architect who works for the plan book company, whose instructions are "We need 25 each of French Country, Victorian, MCM, Colonial, and Farmhouse, from 2-5 bedrooms, a great room, and a mudroom. By next week. Go!" :-)

    Those aren't even bottom-of-the-class architects. Those are draftspeople. Or staff members who have a four-year pre-professional BS in architecture or a two-year Master of Architecture degree for those who intend to become licensed architects. But who aren't architects yet and might not ever be.

    I recall [this recent thread[(https://www.houzz.com/discussions/a-silly-new-home-build-dsvw-vd~5362326), where the original poster assumed that the house under discussion was built by "a semi-custom builder. They have an in-house architect." I did some quick Googling and learned that the building company does NOT have an in-house architect. What the company has is a vice president of design and architecture, who has a BA from a small private religious college in Chicago that offers an engineering program but as far as I can see offers no architecture program or even courses, and leads their "architectural design team" of four, which consists of himself, a drafting manager, a CAD drafter, and a senior CAD drafter. Worth noting that the architectural design team is listed after the interior design team (of five).

    According to the company bio, the vp "turns out new designs with amazing speed", which to me at least is a bug and not a feature. Also in the bio: "In his career he has rubbed shoulders with names like Susanka, Lander, Cudd, Bloodgood and more. He is friendly and enthusiastic about his work." I'm not sure that rubbing shoulders with Sarah Susanka's name is enough to have good design skills rub off.

    Never assume. And caveat emptor.

  • PRO
    Anglophilia

    When we were moving to KY and my realtor took me house-hunting, there were houses I refused to get out of the car to see; they were very ugly. I don't think I could come home everyday to an ugly house. The one we ended up buying was a bit of a "plain jane", but we felt she had potential with landscaping and proper shutters, and it has been.

    I have no idea why but I have always been happiest when I was surrounded by some beauty. In Maine in the dorm apt, it was the gorgeous pine trees mixed with maple trees along the border between the dorm "back-yard" and the abutting cemetery. It was beautifully year 'round.

    I like a pretty house - a pretty room - a pretty garden. They have always been important to me and I guess always will be. And yes, over the years I learned how to make a shoe box "pretty" on a dime.

  • Bryan Lovely

    Yeah, that's why I put "architect" in quotes. I still suspect that that designer or what have you thinks something like:

    "That famous-architect-designed custom house plan I saw had a great room and 12-foot ceilings, so all my plans should have a great room and 14-foot ceilings!"

    "That famous house had 5 different roofs, so my plans should have 8 different roofs!"

    "That famous architect mixed two different styles, so my plans should mix three different styles!"

    And then they do it ... wrong. But I still blame the original famous architect for their ugly and/or unlivable ideas in the first place. It used to be that designers or even gifted amateurs could look at pattern books, apply some well-known rules of thumb, and come up with decent-looking livable houses. (My 1930 house, for instance.) Apparently not any more.

  • suedonim75

    My house was both a dump on the outside and a dump on the inside, lol. It was cheap and on some acreage. While it was habitable, I don't know anyone who would want to live in it.

    We have done extensive work on it, but it is nowhere near a showplace. It is a small 1968 "tract home". I think it was the most basic model they offered with zero upgrades.

    It's fine for us, I don't have huge utility expenses, and it's easy to keep up. I do care quite a bit about curb appeal and work very hard on my landscaping. I'm proud of the work that we've done, and I want the outside to look just as good as the inside.

  • beckysharp Reinstate SW Unconditionally

    Holly, I tried to message you but couldn't find the button. Did you mean to post your last comment to your lighting post? Or is my Houzz feed well and truly mixed up?

  • Holly Stockley

    Nope. I'm just an idiot. I wondered where that went. :-)

    ETA - Becky isn't crazy, I just deleted the comment because apparently both my browser and my brain have too many tabs open.


  • aprilneverends

    "I'm not sure that rubbing shoulders with Sarah Susanka's name is enough to have good design skills rub off."-aaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!

    you've no idea how you made my day

  • tqtqtbw

    Here are some seriously bad McMansions designs.

    McMansion Hell

  • PRO
    Mark Bischak, Architect

    I'm not going to look.

  • PRO
    Virgil Carter Fine Art

    Welll...back to the McModerns illustrated in the CBS News link. Virtually all of those houses were simply McMansions in a different vocabulary. That's all.

    I'd wager very few, if any, were designed by an architect with a long standing, successful individual practice.

    Why?

    Because all were so very unresolved and uncoordinated. They were simply assemblages of shapes and materials. Some were more refined than others, but that's not saying much. There was nothing harmonious or studied and resolved about any of them. Some were so amateurish that they should simply be blown away...and as soon as possible.

    Will we see more of these? Have we seen a lot of McMansions?

    As long as folks buy either of these approaches to building, builders will build more of them. When folks stop buying them, builders will move on to something else. The annual builders conventions will start demonstrating other approaches to building single family homes.

    It's simply supply and demand. If the demand is there, the builders will keep speculating and supplying them.

    Hint: Stop the craziness. Support your local architect. Help them send their daughter to mechanic's training...

  • RaiKai

    Thinking more on this....

    I think there is a bit of a "trickle down" effect too for anything. Things that many of us take for granted or wanted in our "average" homes now usually originated in higher end homes - from dedicated mud rooms to butler's pantries. Most of us do not "need" a butler's pantry, especially with the general doing away of formal dining rooms, but it is something that is picked up in higher end homes, then makes its way down to larger builders, and to the "masses". I am seeing this now in my area with "second kitchens" rather than butler's pantries. Does a 2,000 sf suburban house need an entire second kitchen right off the first unless they have certain dietary needs or requirements? Likely not, but I see it making an appearance now in model homes in the "mid range" market.

    These are examples of $2,000,000 - $5,000,000 (CAD dollars, mind you) homes in Calgary, which is the nearest "big city" to my own city, all built within last three-four years or so. Granted, many of these are in desireable higher end areas so land costs factor in. But still, it is no surprise to me builders who are building for the "larger" market of home buyers (i.e. the ones with much less than $2,000,000 to spend) also want to emulate - however well or badly - some of this for their potential buyers who want to feel they too are buying what is new and current, or who see these homes and want a "piece" of what they like for their own dwellings; though it is generally going to mean a lot of changes in materials and finishes.

    210 39 AV SW, Elbow Park, Calgary, Alberta T2S0W5 - C4197444 | Realtor.ca · More Info

    2815 12 AV NW, St Andrews Heights, Calgary, Alberta T2N1K9 - C4180993 | Realto · More Info

    815 CRESCENT BV SW, Britannia, Calgary, Alberta T2S1L3 - C4189563 | Realtor.ca · More Info

    4248 BRITANNIA DR SW, Britannia, Calgary, Alberta T2S1J3 - C4145188 | Realtor. · More Info

    6424 Bow CR NW, Bowness, Calgary, Alberta T3B2B9 - C4177654 | Realtor.ca · More Info

    For funzies, the overview of the house directly above on its narrow lot, and its neighbour (these are obviously infills) ;)

    6424 Bow CR NW, Bowness, Calgary, Alberta T3B2B9 - C4177654 | Realtor.ca · More Info

    And I wanted to show the community/school looking house I saw as I was perusing the listings above...I can't tell if it is a school or a house, actually.

    210 39 AV SW, Elbow Park, Calgary, Alberta T2S0W5 - C4197444 | Realtor.ca · More Info

  • suedonim75

    And you just explained the whole McMansion phenom. They're trying to emulate grand mansions, throwing in stupid columns and turrets and using cheap materials. The turrets on that grand mansion above worked, it was symmetrical to the other half. A turret on a faux Tuscan suburban zero lot line home= stupid.

  • Holly Stockley

    Virgil, I fear you are something of a lone prophet, proselytizing the heathens.

    This is in part because too many people don't know the difference between good design and bad - and too many more don't care. "Location, location, location" is really a truism. As is "most people want what the neighbors have, only a little nicer." Similarly, most of the striving upper middle class wants what their financial betters have - only as it can be construed within their budgets. Architects are always going to appeal to that narrow slice of the population that is independent-minded enough to eschew trends for the sake of trends, but also able to listen to an expert rather than think they can do it all themselves. Which probably DOES add up to about 2% of the population.

    So the same will hold true for McMansions, Mc Moderns, and whatever is next.

    I'm betting on Farmhemian.

  • beckysharp Reinstate SW Unconditionally

    I'm betting on Farmhemian.

    Which will make us all nostalgic for "modern farmhouse" lol.

    If only the people behind McMansions have as great an understanding of design and architecture as they do of human nature.

  • greenfish1234

    It actually explained more than the "dumbing down for the masses" factor. To me, it exposes a different strategy: "confuse the masses." McMansions, for me, are easy. I am familiar with and love traditional homes so I start to twitch when I see crap. I like but don't know and have hardly ever been IN modern spaces and I think it would take an extreme example (like the OP photo) for my head to explode.

  • havingfun

    i don't think i said this correctly. how many of these, lousy quality homes are sold based on the fact they are new. i have met so many germaphobes who don't seem to want anything used, i wonder how much of these sales are due to this rather than unknowing of quality design.

  • greenfish1234

    I totally agree havingfun. i mean, people won't even look past paint colors, much less wallpaper much less some window rot in neglected original windows. I have to admit that when I was young, after removing bad wallpaper in an apartment or two, wallpaper became a hard stop for me when house hunting. It certainly never occurred to me (to my credit it was a very hot market) that I could realize some savings on the house and get it professionally done. Luckily I don't think I passed over many winners for that, but still. Another thing when we were looking is that while I would love to live in a 1930's or older house, they are all on busy roads now (thanks in large part to the McMansion neighborhoods!!), and we have no sidewalks in this former farm town. City planning has as much to do with the degradation of good architecture and the common aesthetic as anything. When it came time to upgrade from our 1960 1200Sf Ranch on a quiet street, my only real options in our town were 1) a few antiques on busy streets that needed lots of work 2) colonial in massive 80s-90s colonial developments with perfect lawns and identical houses, 3) new build in similar but of-this-era pork chop 4) McMansions already in the beginning stages of decay

    so we re-built and added 2nd story to our ranch (don't despair it was no mcm gem for sure) despite my guilt over depleting the world of yet another "stater/ender" home). I'm not sure I would recommend the process to my worst enemy and it cost me way more than even a shiny all new home but i love it and it smacks of age because of the mature lot, sub-McMansion square footage (under 3000sf) and the use of some original house forced us and our architect out of the cookie-cutter.

    I would love it if we could bring back real neighborhoods with sidewalks to town/school/parks and more modest, well-built homes.


  • Chessie

    "havingfun

    i don't think i said this correctly. how many of these, lousy quality homes are sold based on the fact they are new. i have met so many germaphobes who don't seem to want anything used, i wonder how much of these sales are due to this rather than unknowing of quality design."

    Frankly, I think most buyers, if they are being honest, would prefer a new home - if they could swing it financially. And by "most", I am not referring to the HOUZZ population - which has a disproportionate number of somewhat lofty, occasionally haughty and often "know-it-all" folks. No offense intended to anyone here of course. :-) This reminds me of what my sister just went through, to buy a home.

    She just moved into a new home. She recently divorced, and had to sell her nearly 4000 sf home. She had to do this all on her own - packing/cleaning/everything as her ex is a d**k and would not help with any of it. (Yes, a lot of his crap got tossed.) Anyhoo...in her search for a home, she went into a few "used houses" (and honestly I had never heard anyone use that term before I heard her say it) and was overwhelmed with how much work she would have to do in them. Now, she is a very particular person, to be sure (I consider myself to be particular, but she leaves me in the dust) and the thought of moving in, all that work ahead of her just to move in, and then to have to do so much to the house...and the possibility of repairs and that whole unknown....well, that was just not something she could handle. For one thing, she knew next to nothing about red flags, repairs, DIY - buying a home that was NOT new, to her, was a huge scary unknown - just overwhelming. Never mind the fact that although I would not call her a "germophobe", she spends more time cleaning and straightening than most people I know. (I think she got the cleaning genes, and I got the handyman-lawn&garden genes. :-) ) I totally understood all this, and why she made the decision to buy only a new home. I get it.

    I will say that we spent a lot of time checking out the construction as it was built - her at-the-time BF was there at least once a week, and everytime we visited, we went and looked at it. It's not one of the more "mass builders" like Ryan Homes (eek) which she had been looking at previously - thank goodness she decided against those. There were many many issues along the way, as there always are when you build a home, but in the end, I think she made the right choice for her.

  • worthy

    "In his career he has rubbed shoulders with names like ... Bloodgood and more."

    Moon Bloodgood

    I'm impressed!

    *****

    In an interview, the largest Canadian home producer once said, "Am I a homebuilder? Is McDonald's a chef?"

    So why would mass market moderns be any more distinguished than mass market traditionals?

  • havingfun

    i think maybe some of them gain that as being still standing over time, no?

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