Nita Research: The Lemmon McMansion

Pictures can help me write a thousand words, so I do a lot of google-search.  This time it lead me to Kate Wagner’s McMansion Hell, an outstanding blog about the infernal large builder-designed houses that are too big, too ugly, and too poorly built to deserve anything but Wagner’s biting criticism (Zillow once tried to shut down the blog because it was too truthful. They failed.)

I started my search because I had this line in the book:

Nita slowed as they reached the turn down into the Preserve, passing the ugly yellow McMansion the Lemmon family had built in the middle of all the wild beauty.

That’s picked up again in a later scene (Act 2) where Max and Mammon go to see who lives there:

“So, we’re zero for four,” Max said, looking at the massive yellow mansion plunked down in the landscape just outside the Nature Preserve.

and

Max looked back at the massive yellow builder’s dream. “That is really ugly.”

Yeah.  It lacks specificity.  And since there’s a huge scene there later, I really needed something that I could describe briefly that would stick in the reader’s mind.  McMansion Hell did not let me down.

Except that the Lemmon Mansion is, of course, done in yellow brick.

I can work with that.  Here’s Max’s dialogue now (a million rewrites yet to come):

“That is one ugly house,” Max said, looking at the massive yellow builder’s dream plunked down in the landscape just outside the Nature Preserve. “It looks like it was built by angry elves. Who then peed on it.” He tilted his head, trying to find a better angle. “The balcony was probably useful for defenestrating the architect.”

Mammon shook his head.  “The last time I saw that many turrets on a building, I was at Disney world.”  

“You went to Disney World?” Max said.

The McMansion Hell blog is more that just snarky comments on bad architecture and well worth checking out.  But the snarky comments alone are worth the trip.  (Apologies to any reader who might reside in this house.)

 

 

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41 thoughts on “Nita Research: The Lemmon McMansion

  1. Oh! I adore McMansion Hell. ADORE!

    It’s telling that a lot of the interiors of the Extreme Home Makeover show have McMansiony qualities. Heaven forbid you have an interest, you get a room of NOTHING BUT.

    Also, “You went to Disneyland” has shades of “I was actually at wood stock. I fed on a flower person…” I can’t remember the rest of the quote.

    7+

  2. I’ve just spent an hour on the MacMansion Hell site. Thank you! I wish I’d had a real estate agent with the same sense of humor when I was looking for a new house.

    1+

  3. My husband is a real estate agent in a suburb rife with McMansions. He says it’s hell trying to work with the wealthy homeowners who built these monstrosities in the 80’s and 90’s, haven’t updated them since, and expect top dollar in an area with falling home prices and stiff competition from new developments.

    6+

    1. Carpeted bathrooms, flowered wallpaper in every room, white kitchen appliances, and “we won’t go below $800,000!”

      2+

        1. It’s bad, but to be honest if I had a lot of money and no taste, I’d rather take one of the dated, 80’s McMansions than the new ones they’re building nearby… at least the houses built in the 80’s have trees in their yards. And windows.

          2+

        2. We put carpet in the master bath when we built our house thinking it would be nice to have warm floors. A few years later, the carpet was gone, exchanged for tile with an electric warming pad under it. (The floor heater is on a thermostat and has been wonderful, BTW.)

          7+

          1. In 40 years, 40 year olds will be mocking your design choices too – saying who thought this was nice?

            And 40 years after that on the Lunar colony, some teenager will roll their eyes and demand carpet everywhere even though the lunar dust is impossible to get out of carpet. ; )

            You have no idea how excited people were about avocado and harvest gold refrigerators.

            5+

          2. You know, I think the good design from each period lasts, it’s the extension of good design past the point of good design that becomes mockable. You can see it in fashion. Any time you get to “it’s trending,” you’re gonna be in trouble forty years later, but the basics always last. There’s nothing wrong with harvest gold or avocado as colors, even colors for appliances (says the woman who has a bright teal toaster oven and cupcake baker); they’re really rich beautiful colors. You know what I can’t stand in an appliance? Stainless steel. Gray is depressing and so are fingerprints. Another kitchen standard I loathe: granite. My last kitchen had bright blue quartz counters. I loved them.

            Really, it depends on what you like. No matter what it is, somebody will make fun of it.

            3+

          3. I also dislike granite for countertops and I like color on appliances. We are getting white laundry machines because of practicality only: the Whirlpool has a flat front meaning I can actually see the controls for the dryer in the stacked configuration, whereas the Merlot Samsung has a tilted control panel which would be invisible to me from where I stand. Simple things, so simple.

            When our stainless steel-fronted refrigerator dies I plan to replace it with white, unless we have come into money and I can afford a retro-styled one with a colored finish. 🙂

            1+

          4. The good thing about white appliances and white tile is that you can leave them be and then replace everything else if you want a change of color. Paint, dishes, towels, pictures are fairly cheap to replace compared to the permanent stuff.

            1+

          5. I will say I like stainless steel counters. Ours are old enough to have a patina, so there’s no problem with fingerprints. Plus, you can pour boiling water on ours, and the counter is such that it all drains into the sink. I only do it a few times a year, but I like being able to do it. Grandmother chose them, but she also balanced the look with bright, sunshine-yellow vinyl laminate (? maybe? smooth and shiny) cabinets that would look totally fab with teal appliances, could I find any here.

            Carpets can suck. In one of my childhood homes, both the bathroom and the kitchen was carpeted. Somehow, my mother kept them up to standard cleanliness — I think that was about the time you started to be able to rent steam vacuums and do a good shampoo. The carpets came with the house, and my parents weren’t really into remodelling. When the house burned down when I was in college, we were all quite sad, but rather unanimous in dancing on the grave of the orange shag carpet in the living room.

            1+

  4. Thank you for this. Two years ago the builders started to gobble up homes, tear them down and build a cross between McMansion and west coast architecture with Mediterranean influences. Thankfully the house behind mine is a true west coast home. The rest are ugly, ugly, ugly and built to fill the lot. Apparently, new Immigrants, just off the plane, with pots of money, think these homes are the thing. And, don’t get me started on the stucco walls and rod iron filigreed gates. Oh! And the fountains and staturary. 🙈

    4+

    1. There is a house, near the apartment we just vacated in Beverly Hills, with a yard FULL of animal statuary. They have a life-size giraffe. A GIRAFFE. LOLOL

      2+

  5. Love McMansion Hell! Besides the snark, it helps me appreciate my own modest home so much more! ( and yes, I watch Hoarders for the same reason)

    2+

  6. Yeah, McMansion Hell makers it much more amusing to visit my in-laws (who built, with their own hands, mostly, a lovely and reasonably-sized Colonial on ten acres of woodland surrounded by cornfields, and are now in an exurb littered with screamingly ridiculous McMansions). A friend of mine actually bought in the subdivision across the street from my in-laws, and she HATES her ginormous cookie-cutter McMansion, but she’s got a four year old and the school district is inarguably excellent, so she went for it.

    Maybe I should tell her to submit her home to the site…

    3+

    1. There are a few reasons that could lead me to buying or renting a McMansion, and school districts is one. Even if the house had a brick front with aluminum siding on the other 3 sides.

      2+

  7. That yellow takes it to a whole new level of ugly. I mean, the house itself is really really bad but the yellow’s just incredibly worse.

    I love the line about defenestrating the architect.

    2+

  8. Definitely a House Hunters house on steroids or a mansion from Midsommer Murders waiting for a victim. Do ever wonder that DCI Barnaby does not know a soul in all the years of detecting but Joyce knows everybody? Anyway I would like to see the inside especially the bathroom to see if there is a two or three step up to the bathtub in front of the huge window that seems so common in new houses lately. Huge slip and fall feature but not to worry the neighbors, after getting an eye full, can call the EMT’s.

    0

    1. Mary, well observed. As I am married to a law enforcement officer, I will offer up my opinion that phenomenon is due to cops mostly only interacting with criminals and other cops. It skews their vision of humanity to the point where they don’t make friends easily.

      0

  9. I hadn’t heard of McMansion Hell before reading this column, so yesterday I went through the blog and also watched some stuff on YouTube. Great fun! Makes me feel so superior about my own little house, which I happen to love.

    0

  10. We’ve got a string of “houses” near us that must have all come off the same plan – two storey, square monstrosities, three of them in a row identical down to the last brick, but the owners “customised” them with slightly different front doors, and slightly different balustrades. And from the front windows, I can tell that all three houses have exactly the same vertical blinds for that truly unique look.

    They’re huge, and they dominate the street. And to cap it all off, all three of them are completely surrounded by concrete for easy maintenance.

    1+

  11. Defenestration has been my favorite word since I learned it in high school. I am so glad to see it again! Lol.

    1+

  12. Bridget’s comment about dust reminds me of the murderous dust clouds in Maybe This Time. Women annihilating women; messes ground in over centuries; the ancient resentment of women who are expected to dust up everyone else’s dirt.

    Umm, I’m no housekeeper.

    2+

  13. Uh, how can a balcony be useful for throwing someone through or out of a window? Tend to get in the way, I think.
    Yeah, I’m that annoying person who keeps the meaning of “decimate” too.
    *I* think I’m a fun person (looks around for other people, finds none).

    2+

    1. Hello, Thea! Your local friendly contrarian here. A balcony could be useful for defenestration in a lot of ways, mostly in that it gives the victim a sense of false security (bwa-ha-ha-ha!). “Oh, I’ll just grab this balcony here!” Then the balcony gives way, and the victim dangles over the flowerbeds before swinging over to the awning and bouncing from there to the manure truck, for a soft but probably well-deserved landing.

      LOL, you are probably right, though. Balconies probably prevent more falls than they act as accomplices to dramatic feats of gravity and balance.

      1+

      1. You have obviously not seen the ridiculously shallow lips that serve as balconies on too many McMansions. Well, buildings in general.

        1+

        1. I guess not. I thought there was another name for those things? Railed windows? If I’m (now) thinking of the same thing you guys are thinking of. The one up above *looks* like it’s large enough to be a Juliet balcony — in that a girl could go out and get a little moonlight. But it doesn’t look large enough to hang laundry, which is what I think of as “balcony”. Only they call them verandas here (beranda, actually).

          Balconettes! Those are the lippy little things that prevent babies from falling out of the window. http://ironart.co.uk/bespoke/architectural-metalwork/balconies-and-balconettes/ Although it looks like half of them wouldn’t even do that.

          0

    2. If you look at the balcony, it’s mostly there to line the window. So you open the window, and then you have the elbow room to get some distance on the hurl. That’s not a balcony you put a table and a couple of chairs on.

      2+

    3. I’ve watched a little too much House Hunters International. Balconies are not the sizes we think they are… worldwide. The realtor says, “it has a balcony” and then you look, it’s a foot aka 30 cm depth. Meh.

      0

  14. I love stainless steel appliances and granite countertops-I am easily influenced by the masses. But I also love my small house in a great neighborhood even though it is surrounded by huge homes.

    0

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