Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The Upside of the Economic Apocalypse

If anything good comes from the meltdown, it's the end of the McMansions. According to this article, modest homes in established neighborhoods may once again be safe from McMansionization with the collapse of the market for giant buildings to house giant egos. There are silver linings.

With my house at just under 1100 square feet, I confess I'd like a little more space. I'd love a laundry room instead of a washer and dryer alongside the deck. I'd like a home office that didn't double as a guest room. I'd like a linen closet and a butler's pantry.

But then I'd be spoiled. My house started its life at half its current size. It had a nice little backyard that was eaten up by the addition of a second bathroom and a second kitchen (when the house was duplexified.) I suppose it was the McMansionization of its day. And I confess that I have benefited from the sins of the past. We would never have bought this house at its former size - with one bedroom and one bath, smaller than our former apartment. While the cosmetic flaws were disastrous, it was the size of the second kitchen and its potential to become a decent master bedroom that sold us. Plus, there was the lure of the second bathroom, a rarity in homes this age of comparable size.

So, there are silver linings.

Now I have to go watch HGTV. My Big Amazing Renovation is on.


Jayne said...

McMansionization...Mc..Mansion..i..zation....nope, I still can't say it. But I'm glad it's gone! I hope the trend of huge garages sticking out front with the house tacked on behind ends, too. Ugly.

fred@opc said...

I'm relieved to see this trend as well... and its one that I thought would eventually come. I predict that in the future, with energy concerns and conservation becoming popular, we'll see more, small, custom houses that are very well designed (perhaps uniquely designed). The money will go into the architecture and design rather than materials and space... We'll be all the happier for it.

Christopher Busta-Peck said...

I sometimes start to rant at my better half about McMansions and she then asks me just how much bigger they are than our house...

There's something about a big old house that makes it more tolerable than a big new house. The big old house tends to fit in its neighborhood better. If it has been added onto a half dozen times, it is usually honest about this.

Of course, maybe I'm just trying to justify all this to myself.

I know that the house we have is too big for myself, my wife, and my son. But we bought it with the plans for more children. We bought it with the hope that our house will be the one where the family gathers at the holidays.

Why S? said...

Fred, I hope your prediction is right.

Christopher, I think it's a question of proportion. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with a large house. There have always been estate homes. The problem is when a home is out of scale for its lot size and surrounding neighborhood. From the pictures on your blog, you have a lovely home with nice outdoor space surrounding it. What I really hate to see is a house built to the limits of the lot, with the garage right at the front edge as Jayne mentions.

Yes, throwing a few stones at social issues is a problem, what with our pesky glass walls. I’m sure most of us would like a little more living space. But I don’t think we all need a game room and a home theater and a home gym and a 4 car garage . . .