Sunday’s Washington Post has a great story about how people who buy the new McMansions have neither the time or money to furnish them, nor the inclination to use all their space. Says one McMansion builder:
They figured that their house, which is still under construction, would
represent the high end of what people wanted — until a client recently
requested a 23,000-square-foot rambler, a size approaching that of the
Taj Mahal, which is about 35,000 square feet.
That’s right, people are building their dream homes the size of the Taj Mahal, a building built for royalty. The
Taj-fucking-Mahal. Build by a Mugal emperor Shah Jehan. And you
admit you haven’t even enough furniture (or time or money buy it) to
fill the house.
Wait, but perhaps you need all that space. You entertain constantly, or you have a large extended family. Nope.
And so when Alyson Skinner wanted a bigger house on 10 acres in western Prince William County, there it was. [..] Instead of
going out into the world, she preferred to contain the world inside her
"We have a media room in the
basement, a pool table and a moon bounce, so I don’t have to take the
kids out and fight traffic," said Skinner, 32, a former art director
who lives there with her husband; their two children; and, at times,
family and friends who come on weekends. "We enjoy it more when the
kids come here and play. Specifically, I’m weird, but I’m
supersensitive to the kids getting snatched. Like at Chuck E. Cheese, I
have to constantly watch them."
As in many large houses, some of Skinner’s rooms are still
empty, while others have essentially become playrooms: The windowed
conservatory is an empire of pink toys for her daughter. And on a
recent weekday, the family room was strewed with plastic shapes in
where you see a small child get lost in the big mansion? In the
movies, such a scene demonstrates the alienation that wealth and large
houses create. I mean, that’s just a joke, isn’t it?
"Mommy!" said a small voice from somewhere.
Skinner, sitting at the 10-foot granite kitchen island, looked up.
"Where are you?" she called to her daughter.
Oh, it’s an illness! I see. Your need for space isn’t in any way related to your actual needs. I’m guessing you are already planning a new wing? Let me guess, it’s not to house the orphans you’re going to adopt…
"Next, I want a huge laundry, a mudroom, an activity room with
linoleum floors so if the kids spill the paint, it won’t matter," she
said. She wants a pool house with a bathroom, and another garage for
the mower, the Barbie Jeep and the giant Slip ‘n Slide.
and my friends joke about this, but I think Pottery Barn is
responsible," Skinner said. "You get the catalogue showing playrooms,
then there’s a craft room, and you’re like, ‘Yeah, I need a craft room.’
"The irony is, the bigger the house, the more junk you buy. Then you have nowhere to put it, so you want more storage."
In the Matrix, when Agent Smith talked about humans as a virus, he nailed this behavior on the head:
"Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural
equilibrium with the surrounding environment, but you humans do not.
You move to an area and you multiply and multiply until every natural
resource is consumed. And the only way you can survive is to spread to
another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the
same pattern. Do you know what it is? A virus. Human beings are a
disease, a cancer of this planet. You are a plague, and we are the
A disease, indeed.