Design

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yet again we find ourselves in cook county

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 10/06/2022 - 9:57pm in

Živjo from Slovenija, where there are no McMansions. (I finally know peace.) And yet at the same time I grew homesick enough to make my way back into the Cook County Suburbs, namely Barrington, namely South Barrington, namely McMansion Hell. If only in spirit.

This $3 million, 19,700 square foot house (built in 2001) showed up in a previous post, but only its facade. I promise you it’s worth cracking it open and seeing the insides, like a gooey, ugly egg. This is probably the first post in this blog’s history where there were no bedroom photos in the listing. Perhaps Realtors™ have learned a lesson from the “Welcome to Poundtown” incident. Anyway, here goes.

Remember her? Wish I didn’t.

Foyer

The light fixture kind of reminds me of some peripheral creature you’d find in The Fifth Element. At least it’s “unique” (in the same way a high school bully with really rich parents is “unique.”)

Dining

I don’t know why paint companies have to manufacture every color under the sun. They’re putting their customers in danger of making really dumb decisions. Surely some ethics are warranted.

Great Room

I have never seen a McMansion living room bar that full of liquor. I assumed they were mostly decorative but no, these people drink.

like, they have an entire cooler room just for booze:

Kitchen

If you’re not having some Wuthering Heights moments while doing the dishes, wyd

Master Bathroom

Like I said, there weren’t any bedroom pics, but the bathroom almost makes up for it. Exceptionally weird.

Music Room

“But you don’t even play piano!”

Office

How could they do this to my third favorite color???? What did she do to deserve such ignominy?????

Finally, I leave you with some of the most baffling assemblages of architectural bits and pieces hitherto known to residential architecture:

Yeah, this is like 10 McMansions.

Anyway, I hoped you enjoyed yet another trip to the 9th circle of McMansion Hell, aka South Barrington, stay tuned for our next installment, which will be about that fake Croatian town they made in Texas.

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the Patreon, where you will get access to livestreams, bonus posts, and the best lil discord community on the whole dang internetNot into recurring payments? Tip me – because inflation is ruining my entire life.

Late Victorian era

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 17/05/2022 - 10:01am in

Tags 

vintage, Design

Late Victorian era single-fronted villa (dated 1887 in art nouveau lettering) with the sunshades down. Unusual and well preserved original cast iron balcony railings and trim known as “Sydney Lace”. Heritage Listed. Enmore.

Choice example of

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 17/05/2022 - 8:41am in

Tags 

vintage, Design

Choice example of 1880’s era original cast iron “Sydney Lace”. Annandale.

McMansion Hell: revenge of cook county

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 16/04/2022 - 3:37am in

Fans of this website will perhaps remember a certain house from the “worst of suburban Illinois” post. I’m here to alert you to the fact that the interior of said house may in fact be the pinnacle of what has been dubbed by my colleague Cocaine Decor as “Cocaine Decor.” This 1990 house has lived rent free in my brain for a while, and now it will live rent free in all of yours. It sits at $1.1 million USD and precisely 10,000 square feet, each of which exists in ignorance of the Light of God.

Remember her? I wish I didn’t. Anyway.

The Lawyer Foyer

I would actually venture that this is the most reasonable and bland room in this house, but it sets the tone for what is to come: baffling art, even more baffling curtains, and the most baffling carpet choices to ever be offered in a catalog. Also from this angle it’s really funny.

The Sitting Room

Ok does anyone else here from the aught’s internet remember vintage Art.com and its kind of weird kitschy art prints? I used to spend hours on that website amassing pictures of lemons and limes because children are weird.

Living Room

I quilt and I KNOW how much fabric costs. Also I really want to do some kind of research project on late 90s-early 2000s “modernism” which is basically like “what if we took modernism and made it really chunky.” If you were working as an industrial designer during that time and can help me figure out what in the world was happening, please hit me up in the Twitter DMs @mcmansionhell.

Kitchen

hmm getting some Eyes Wide Shut vibes from all this… kinda sus…

Main Bedroom

Viral Tweet Voice: Tiger King was 10,000 years ago. Remember sourdough starters??? Hobbies taken up with manic urgency??? Washing groceries??? How young we were. How foolish.

????

Give me some powder and 15 minutes in here and I’ll come up with McMansion Hell 2 (or lose thousands of dollars on NFTs - it’s a toss up.)

bedroom

You know those metallic sharpies they sell two-packs of at Target? They took those to a fabric shop and said: here’s our palette, go nuts.

pool

shout out to my mom, I love her.

Okay, that’s about enough of that. Here’s the back of the house complete with a tripartite architectural analysis (it’s very complicated):

I hope you enjoyed this installment of McMansion Hell, stay tuned for more cursed houses from the Mecca of cursed houses, because I, uh, found a lot of them yesterday.

If you liked this post, consider signing up for my Patreon where you can get merch, livestreams, bonus houses, discord server access and more.Not into subscriptions? Tip me a cup of coffee for my trouble at Ko-Fi.

P.S. go bulls

Some new paintwork

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 12/03/2022 - 9:44am in

Tags 

Design

Some new paintwork from Nico. Rozelle.

daydream houses of oman

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 26/02/2022 - 6:56am in

Howdy, folks! With all the terrible events unfolding in Ukraine right now, I figured everyone would like a little bit of a break from doomscrolling. Not wanting to add anymore negativity to the timelines, I’m going to share something on-topic but decidedly more cheery than the McMansions of rich people who suck.

As some of you may know, I recently visited Oman as a cycling journalist covering the eponymous Tour of Oman. (You can follow all seven days of my travels via my cycling newsletter derailleur beginning here.) While I was there, I came across some of the most fantastic houses I’ve ever seen and had to take photos. Admittedly, I’m not a great photographer. I just bought a camera (a Panasonic Lumix) last year. Still, I tried to do these houses justice with my limited talent, a difficult task considering I was photographing from a moving car chasing bike racers around. These photos were taken during the Tour of Oman stages one and two, which traveled along routes from Al Rastaq to Muscat and from Barka to Suhar, respectively.

Each of these examples mixes Western luxury with Islamic architectural motifs, and they make use of elements like reflective glass and condensation capture tanks in order to mitigate some of the challenges of the desert climate. All are made from painted concrete, as there is little wood to be found in such an arid ecosystem and an abundance of rock and energy to beat it into submission.

These homes are decidedly an Omani phenomenon, their size and ostentatiousness perhaps owing to the country’s newfound wealth via oil exploration. However, while many would be keen to point the finger and shout “McMansion!”, as a good ex-graduate student, I’m wary of applying Western aesthetic standards to Eastern architectural examples. Besides, I have to say, these houses are way more fun than literally anything I’ve ever seen stateside. They’re playful and colorful, openly celebratory and, to be honest, kind of wild. I hope you enjoy them.

pink step-like house with central corridor

Note the explicit symmetry and two-toned reflective glass.

pastel foyer house

I found many examples of a stained glass technique wherein scenes or photographs are silkscreened onto glass and mounted as the most central window on the home. Note also the house’s classical composition as well as the obscured crenelated water collection tank on the roof, another common feature.

green house with arched door

Tripartite entryway consisting of a pediment, an oriel, and an ornate arched door surrounded by decorative script. Kermit the frog green.

house of the nine hoods

Note the Mario Botta-esque striped wall, the fort-like composition, the many cornices, and the fact that each window is screen-printed with a different pattern.

mullion house

Glass need not be a boring feature of the common home! Extremely ornate mullion patterns and fun purple columns.

little sunshine house

Note the subtle three-part mutifoil arch and the use of interior tile as exterior decoration to augment the entryway, something that’s common in these houses, perhaps because there is less worry of wear and tear by water. Another common element to one-story houses is a central roof-access tower for accessing the water tower and HVAC units.

imprint house

If foam is the material language of the Western McMansion, the Omani show-house speaks in concrete. Note the embossing of the cornices, windows, and wall panels to resemble zellij-pattern tilework. The exaggerated cornices are a nice touch of absurdity.

triple dome house

An absolutely chaotic house featuring extensive use of decorative tile, colonnaded windows, and subtle asymmetry. Love whatever’s going on with the garage doors.

oblique house

A house organized at an oblique angle, with complex wings and a heavily obscured front door. Pistachio green with mixed architectural elements.

gold window house

What happens if a house was made entirely of turrets? The answer is, it’s pretty glorious.

Anyway, I hope these houses brightened at least one person’s day and that everyone enjoyed this little reprieve from all that’s terrible.

Stay safe friends.

Shut up! - Some people just aren't ready for BMW's bold new design language.

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 22/02/2022 - 8:02am in

Tags 

cars, Design

 

Suburban Chicago McMansions Follow a Dark Logic Even I Do Not Understand

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 05/01/2022 - 1:39pm in

For reasons architecturally unbeknownst to me, the McMansions of Chicago’s suburbs are actually insane. Perhaps it makes sense that Chicago, America’s mecca of great and distinguished architecture would also give birth to what can be appropriately called the netherworld version of that.

For six years, I have run this blog, and for six years I have been absolutely amazed by the formal leaps and bounds exhibited by the McMansions of Chicago’s suburbs. This area is undisputedly the fertile crescent of unhinged custom homebuilding and while I’ve heard other claims made for the gaudy, compact McMansions of Long Island, the paunchy shingled stylings of Greenwich, Connecticut, the Disney-Mediterranean hodgepodges of Florida, the oil-drenched nub mountains of North Texas, you name it – nothing comes remotely close to that which has been built in the suburbs of Cook, Lake, and DuPage Counties. (In the case of the houses featured in this post, nine of ten are located in Barrington, IL, which just might be the census designated place known as McMansion Hell.)

Usually vernacular architecture has some kind of origin point, a builder or a style or a developer one can point to and say, aha, that’s where that comes from. One could argue that the postmodern classicism of a Robert AM Stern or the tory Colonial Revival selections found in the Toll Brothers catalog provided this service for much of the McMansion canon.

However, the McMansions in the Chicago Suburbs are so wildly customized and unique, it is as though each of the ten listed here were in competition with one another to build the most outrageous collage of wealth signifiers imaginable, to the point where their architecture becomes almost un-house-like. The responsibility for their form, owing to the absence of architects, lies solely with the owners and the custom builders who did their unquestioned bidding, who plucked each turret and mismatched window from the catalog after being told, give me that. These homes are the end logic of the “custom home” of the pre-2008 era where nouveau riche (and sometimes old money) fantasies were dropped on whatever massive virgin lot one could afford to hook up plumbing to.

There are two Barrington subtypes I’ve been able to identify that, while not unique to the area, seem to be the only kinds of formal logic uniting many examples. The first I’ll call the Long House, which is just what it sounds like: a once rational house that’s been stretched to comical length-wise proportions:

Theoretically the above house makes sense to the eye. The turrets divide it into a kind of five part vertical rhythm. But the more you stare, the less sense it makes. Why is there a window between the third and fourth turret but no other? Why are there two whole other wings jutting out from the house in two other directions? Were the house not one color, the eye would get lost immediately, and the scale is such that the realtor had to zoom all the way out with a drone just to capture the whole thing in one frame. Besides, what style even is this imitating? French Country? Great Recession-core? (The same could be asked of all of these houses which, owing to their bloated-ness defy and elude even the most half-assed stylistic or historical cosplay.)

In case you were wondering, the turret exists so as to roof a curved secondary mass. A horrible question to ask ourselves is: when a turret is not used, how does one attach the curved mass to the roof? The answer is whatever is going on in the above example. I’m sorry you all have to see this.

The Long House is perhaps best demonstrated in the above particular model, which appears as though it’s not actually real but rather a mid-range SketchUp render. This house actually reminds me of many examples I’ve seen in Bergen County, New Jersey. The first three masses form a logical tripartite facade. The two that are tacked on after that undermine the rest and render it almost comical. Also they’re slightly different from one another. Of course.

The other of the two subtypes is what I call the Tank House. (One also finds turrets on a tank.) The Tank House is, well, shaped kind of like a tank: hulking, with a central protruding mass around which everything else is oriented, often at a strange oblique angle:

Building a house at an oblique angle is kind of an interesting architectural decision especially on a corner lot, but none of these are corner lots - they are large swaths of what was probably farmland unhindered by size constraints. A carport is rather like the firing arm of our tank house, protruding outward and demonstrating a kind of military might:

Often in the Tank House, additional masses are just kind of piled on to the sides because it’s actually kind of inconvenient to design a really big house on a 45 degree angle:

This results in these houses taking on a kind of kaleidoscope effect where they tesselate, spread and converge as the eye tries to assimilate them into something with symmetry, even though the design consistency falls apart at the edges.

And then there’s whatever this is:

Yeah. Sometimes postmodernism wasn’t all fun colors and ironic greek order references. Unfortunately.

However, the Tank House doesn’t always have to involve an oblique angle. What’s unique - other than the oversized central portico - is actually the piling on of the massing into mismatched wings:

Like I said above, architecture, especially “traditional” architecture longs for symmetry, and these houses simply do not have it. They always manage to screw up, shoving some house over there, some roof to that side, as though they’ve started with a central idea and were unable to commit, rather like this post in which I’m wandering around really, really trying to understand why these houses are so damn bizarre.

In the last two examples, you’ll see a central hall punctuated by grand entrance of some kind. But in both cases the symmetry is broken by adding another mass to the right simply because the garage calls for it. It shows a remarkable lack of architectural faculty and imagination to let a garage derail the entire formal logic of the house. It’s lazy. However, the garage is a status symbol in and of itself – perhaps the disruption, the madness, is the point. (In architecture, as in all things, one must remember not to ascribe to malice that which can be easily explained by incompetence.)

This brings us to the last of our examples, which I consider to be among the greatest McMansions to ever exist:

This house took sprawl as its very inspiration, its DNA, its parti. It exists simply to say how much of it there is. It lays on a barren sea of turf grass, is constructed entirely from fossil-fuel based materials, is illuminated by a spurious sky added in post. Everything about it is the pinnacle of artifice, the absence of substance. Even color eludes it - it has traded color for “tone,” for a monochromatic neutrality that even better conveys just how huge and stupid it is. I hate this house, but I also love it, because it pushes the boundary of the medium like all memorable works of architecture do. That’s the thing – despite six years of running this website, every time I think I’ve seen it all, I come back to Barrington, Illinois and find something even my headiest subprime fever dreams couldn’t possibly cook up.

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The McMansion Hell Yearbook: 1981

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 10/11/2021 - 12:52pm in

Hello everyone! We return to the great state of Illinois (where I live) to bring you this wonderful time capsule from DuPage County (where I don’t live but have ridden my bike.) There is actually much more house to get through than in the usual McMansion Hell post so Iet’s not waste time with informalities.

Behold.

This incredible 70s hangover is served (with a fine line on a silver tray) at a neat $5 million. It has seven bedrooms for maximum party discretion and 4.5 bathrooms also for maximum party discretion but of a different sort. Shall we?

Lawyer Foyer

Definitely thought that the staircase emptied out into a pool of brown water. (I’m sober, though.)

Auditorium-Sized Living Room

Pretty sure this is the most epic hearth in McMansion Hell history, if not world history. a bit of overkill, imo. Anyway, let’s see what’s behind it.

In the late 1970s, society once inquired, collectively: What if “Dudes Rock” was a bar?

Kitchen

This is the most normal room in the house. (This is a threat.)

Main Bedroom

How can something clearly from the 80s have such powerful 2006 energy?

Main Bathroom

This was likely a reno job but master bathrooms did start being roughly the size of my living/dining room a few years later.

WARNING: SICKO ZONE AHEAD

Okay. Okay. We’ve completed our tour of the main, relatively normal McMansion part of this house. We are now entering the Sicko Zone, wherein everything gets progressively a little more, well, sick.

(Note: There are more images from the sicko zone but Tumblr only lets me put 10 images in per post so please head over to the McMansion Hell Patreon to see more.)

The Den

Remember late-era Frank Lloyd Wright? These architects dared to ask: What if he sucked?

the horrible room

yeah sorry i need some air.

Rear Exterior

Well, that was eventful. I hope you all enjoyed our little foray into hell. Stay tuned for more Yearbook! It’s only going to get pinker and tealer from here.

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