The musings of a rambling designer.

To be honest I didn’t even know what a McMansions was until my 24 year old son enlightened me. I consider myself fairly learned, but somehow I must have missed a couple of decades of what John Q Public considers “good architectural design aesthetic”.  I have had my rose colored glasses on for far to long, and have obviously overlooked this architectural hell.

As a person with an architecture background, I feel like I should have known about this “appealing” design aesthetic sooner. In my architecture school days we studied that beauty could be derived from symmetry and balance. The use of asymmetry was always practiced with proportion in mind, and to be pleasing to the eye.  

Well apparently McMansions throw all great design concepts to the wind and let things fall where they may, literally.  They take the design concept of form follows function to the extreme, or maybe not, I am just not quite sure. It is as if the designer decided what the room sizes should be, placed them in a specified configuration, then designed the exterior form from there.  At some point a roof, or many roof lines had to be added, then came the windows and doors.

I know you are now curious about what in the heck is a McMansion.  By definition, it is a very large home, usually over 3000 sf that is designed without regard to proportion, balance and good design principles, usually very cheaply constructed but very expensive to purchase, often found in McSubdivisions. Just big for the sake of being big. Complicated for the sake of being complex. No cohesive style to speak of and lots and lots of everything (please forgive the incomplete sentence structure to all my former engish teachers).  

In the case of a McMansion, “gaudy” is not good. Speaking of Gaudi (Antonio) , if you look at his elaborate works, though it is full of detail, there is symmetry and consistency in his design which bring projects like the La Sagrada Familia together beautifully.

Ok, back to McMansions that are designed with no reference to any style, but are a hodgepodge of many style references. These homes are designed to be “big” and ostentatious and to scream “I have money, hear me roar”. Look at me, I have 50 million windows and a pool the size of a football field.  I have roof lines with angles that would confuse any geometry teacher. Well, maybe I am exaggerating a little bit. Many years ago a mentor told me that people can’t buy taste, and now I understand what he meant. This is the case with this “class” of homes. Just because someone drew it, does not mean it is a good idea. It is kinda like the parent that tells the teenager, if your friends are gonna _____(insert stupid thing)__doesn’t mean you should do it to.  Like I tell my design clients, just because you put a sign on your wall that says farmhouse, doesn’t make your 4th floor walkup in the city, a farmhouse. People often take bits and pieces that don’t match or go together and squish and combine them together because all those ideas are popular. They don’t think about the style of their home and how it feels, and how they might want it to feel in the future. I won’t even ramble on about my feelings on shiplap…To me there is a huge difference between juxtaposing styles for the beauty and benefit of both styles vs blatant style clash.

So while I was researching what I am rambling about, I also discovered the McModern, which is a new type of architectural hell. Basically the same concept on the inside as the McMansion, large non-intimate spaces, with a more modern aesthetic that still has no cohesion.  All in all it is just bad architecture. My question is, who in their right mind designed these homes and put their stamp on the drawings. Were these “custom” homes, purchased from the latest version of Floor Plans Today. Something really must be wrong with this type of architectural style, when the city of Seattle proposed a ban on it.  In reality, a pig is still a pig even if you dress it up and put lipstick on it. Poor design is just that, poor design.

Rant done for the day.  Back to helping homeowners design and build their dream homes, not a magic castle.

Remember, we can build it better together.


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