Douglas Milewski (dacuteturtle) wrote,
Douglas Milewski

More on Big Houses

I was surprised by the number of responses on big beautiful houses a few days ago.

Just to keep my conscience clear, I do like some big houses. When we were house hunting a few years back, there were a few that I rather liked. If we had had the money, one I would have bought. (I could see that it needed $100k worth of work, so the house would have never worked. The options were either replace the windows, or be sucked dry by heating bills.)

Part of what I dislike about these modern houses is the lack of human-scale to them. I wish I could put my finger on what is WRONG with them. It goes beyond size, because I've also seen smaller houses with the same awful vibe. I've also been in large houses with terrific vibes. What is it that makes some houses awful, yet other houses terrific?

"Human scale" is the best that I can come up with.

Let's do a little Googling.

McMansion - 247,000 hits
Ugly McMansion - 130,000 hits
Beautiful McMansion - 95,000 hits

OK. That's a lousy metric. However, it does show one thing that is somewhat heartening: there's lots more talk about McMansions being ugly than beautiful. On the other hand, McMansion is a very biased word.

Let's try:

Big Beautiful House - 4,000,000 hits
Big Ugly House - 500,000 hits

Hmmm. More entries associate big and beautiful over big and ugly.

Doing a bit of reading, I stumbled on a few things. First, what makes a McMansion ugly is that it is made to LOOK big, not to look pleasing. Think of it as talking loudly. I don't like loud.

The second issue is a potpourie of styles and proportions. That is to say, my artistic eye does not like the composition of the house.

All of those things have nothing to do with the social part that offends me. What is it that drives my peers to such excesses (homesteading aside)? What need does this feed, and what does this need say about us?

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