McMansion … McShmansion

Oh…this is a fun topic. Patty and I have been saying for years, “What are people going to do when these terrible, Spanish-Med(icated) or neo(not) classical mcmansions built and designed by builders need to be renovated?”

Houses built in the ‘50s, modern and simple, stand the test of time. Though not everyone likes modern, a ’50s home, with its rectangular floor plan, simple lines, lots of glass, flat or low roofs, can be modified into almost any style desired. They are an artist’s canvas. And we are starting to see a trend towards more modern renovations whether Spanish, Colonial, Key West or ranch.

Recently, we renovated a builder grade, Spanish-Med home into a contemporary, modern house. It was not easy. Arches with foam ornamentation, a red barrel tile roof, angles and roof pitches like Superman’s Fortress of Solitude, the dreaded octagonal-shaped entrance and the thickest troweled-on stucco imaginable. You could climb the wall without grappling hooks. And best of all, the house was painted pink! Yes … pink.

I always ask, “Have you ever been to the Mediterranean?”, when people ask if we design in that style. True Mediterranean architecture is simple. Arches are at entry ways only. Stucco is smooth. Columns are used properly and proportionately. Windows are rectangular without tons of ornamental bad trim.

So how did we resolve this design challenge? We purged. We simplified the building. We cleaned the house of the builder’s choices and modernized it as best we could.

We also created a very modern interior, which helps the entire house feel upgraded.

And don’t get me wrong, we’re not saying all houses need to be modern. We are saying they need to be properly and consistently styled throughout. Though typically less is more … more is ok if done properly.

~Barron Schimberg, AIA, LEED AP

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