McMansion Styles Slowly Fade From The Suburban Landscape

A McMansion is a unique type of building. There are many different types of residential buildings and homes that have many different styles. One of these types of homes is called the McMansion home, and it is quite different.

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Today, new homeowners are remodeling their homes so they won’t look like McMansions. The trend is what designer Jean Stoffer calls “deMcMansioning.” 

“I actually prefer a remodel versus new builds because it’s all about seeing potential in what’s already there,” said Stoffer, while explaining how younger families often buy homes that have an outdated aesthetic.  

Those unfamiliar with the term will learn more about it here. We’ll show you how a McMansion is defined and what makes them unique.

What Is A McMansion?

McMansion is a derogatory term used to describe oversized and ostentatious houses. The homes are constructed with cheap materials and considered obnoxious eyesores. Because the homes are built faster than other styles, the dwellings are believed to be the “fast food” version of housing. 

The name association with McDonald’s is not a compliment. When a comparison is made to the fast-food chain, rarely is it meant as a form of flattery. 

History Of The McMansion

McMansions emerged in the 80s. The housing style became popular during the run-up to the subprime mortgage crisis of 08. As the polar opposite of minimalism, McMansions symbolized the American Dream. All of a sudden, maximalism replaced minimalism

The term isn’t relegated to the US. McMansions are international. Australia builds homes bigger than the US. Not only are the houses larger in Australia, but homes have more land. In rural environments, many homes sit on a few acres of land.  

The McDonald’s McMansion

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In Long Island, McMansion refers to the McDonald’s McMansion. This is an operating Mcdonald’s franchise that was built inside a home from America’s Colonial period. 

Denton House sits in New Hyde Park, New York. The home was scheduled for demolition in the 80s before it was converted to a fast food restaurant. When the home was remodeled, the owners agreed to transform it but only if they could keep the original exterior. 

Traditional Mansion

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MILLER + MILLER Architectural Photography

Some people confuse mansions with McMansions. Their architectural styles are different. Mansions are older houses and were usually built before the 80s. 

There are a few details you should know about McMansions. We’ve labeled the key elements of traditional mansions that McMansions do not have. 


Over 90 percent of real mansions are standing today. These homes were built before the 80s. Most homes built in the 90s were McMansions. 

Real mansions or larger houses tell a story. Their owners weren’t middle class, like McMansion buyers. They were owned by those with titles who inherited their homes.


Real mansions are tasteful. They weren’t built in a week. The construction quality of a mansion is superior to the McMansion building. Some mansions have multiple chimneys. There is a classiness about mansions that make you want to visit them.

You won’t find a mansion that couldn’t be turned into a museum unless it is a McMansion. The knockoffs are not classy. They require extra work during the remodeling, unlike authentic mansions.  


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Richard Drummond Davis Architects

If there were newer mansions built after the 70s that were real mansions, then they would need to keep the environment in mind. These homes would need to respect nature and use what was put around them.

It didn’t take an excessive amount of lumber to build the home. The architectural acoustics are better. These mansions adapt to nature and their surroundings. They are built on lots that could benefit from the home or at least won’t suffer from it. 

Building Materials 

The materials of a real mansion are important. They need to be real materials that are picked specifically for the project. No knockoffs, no clearance only sales, just good materials that will work well for the home.

Stone, wood, and brick are used to build mansions. Their construction is superior because cheap materials aren’t used to build them. Some homes have multiple chimneys and all of them have sturdy front doors.

Plastic or other cheap materials are not used. Such materials weren’t used or popular when the mansions were built. 


This is so important. In real mansions, everything needs to be cohesive. You can’t have a mix and match of materials unless they happen to go together very well. Good flow is crucial for a mansion to work.

It doesn’t matter if it is an open concept or a closed-off room. What matters is that everything works well together and feels peaceful. It can’t look like a storybook home it needs to be a storybook home.

What Makes A McMansion?

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Sundeleaf Painting

Although McMansions don’t have a specific definition like other types of houses, craftsman or colonial, for example, which are set, there are a few things that people seem to think belong to this type of home. 

These things aren’t always true for every McMansion because not all McMansions are the same. After all, the term McMansion is slang, and slang terms represent a feeling.

Minimum: 3,000 square feet 

Size is very important when it comes to McMansions. Most McMansions are at least 3000 sqft. This is quite large and is larger than most homes in the world. The size is the most crucial aspect of a McMansion. 

Some McMansions can be smaller if they appear bigger. For example, a 2500 sqft three-story home can easily be called a McMansion. But much smaller than that and the term won’t be heard about the home.

Cheap Materials

Before the financial crisis and the bubble burst, homeowners wanted to keep up with the Joneses, as they say. For that to happen, people had to use the cheapest materials possible in order to afford the sheer size of the home. This explains why the construction quality of  McMansions is lower than other homes.  Each home is built quickly and with cheap material.

Hodge Podge Of Materials

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Gonyea Custom Homes

Another thing was how the materials used depended on whatever was on sale. Because of this, the houses were built with a mixed bag of materials. 

This isn’t always the case if there was enough of material available for the whole house but more often than not, the interior of the house is not cohesive. Instead, it is a conglomeration of clearance materials. 

High McMansion Ceilings

High ceilings were important to McMansion owners because they wanted to have a grand entrance. So they had huge living rooms and entryways with two or three stories in one room often with a chandelier in the center.

This wasn’t ideal because it was considered a waste of space. After all, having an open concept with multiple stories in one room cuts the amount of space you actually have in half, which is dreadful for most people.

Large Garages

Two or three-car garages were ideal in McMansions. Imagine an opulent tract house, and that’s how ridiculous they are. Even if the family only had one car, the large garages left the impression that they had multiple cars and hardly enough space for all of them.

You see this theme a lot in the McMansion style. Because nothing is about practicality or taste. It’s all about making your neighbors think you’re living a better life than you actually are. 


McMansions were mass-produced during their heyday. Tract communities and suburban environments feature the home style. 

The homes look the same because they’re cheaper to build using the same materials. It’s also cost-efficient to reproduce homes with similar styles and compositions. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)FAQ

What Are Some Problems Caused By McMansions?

Storm water runoff is an issue for homes situated downhill from McMansions. McMansions are built on raised foundations. After a rainstorm, water runoff is a problem for homes on lower foundations. Residents who encounter this problem must invest in costly drainage systems to protect their homes from water damage.

What Are The Four Meanings Of A McMansion?

McMansions are large, opulent houses. The term describes a home that has a flawed architectural design. It’s also a symbol for issues including sprawl and excessive consumption.

What Is McMansion Hell?

A blog dedicated to the McMansion. Launched in July 2016, the blog exposes the flaws and defects of McMansions. It also covers the latest home style trends and the inconveniences they cause.

What Is A McModern?

McModerns have replaced the McMansion ugly houses. The trend began during the early 21st century. The homes are similar to McMansion in that they’re built with cheap material and are mass-produced. McModern homes resemble Tudor or Colonial architectural styles. 

McMansion Wrap Up

The thing about McMansions is that the term is often used to describe opulent homes that are not McMansions at all. McMansion is considered a derogatory term 90% of the time and is used to describe cheap-looking homes.

Sometimes, the term McMansion is incorrectly used to describe any large or elaborate home. This just isn’t the correct term to use and is meant as a joke.

Today, the trend is focused on small houses instead of big houses. The advent of the tiny home has changed how US homeowner perceive their living spaces. It seems the McMansion be at the end of its rope.