Archive for May, 2009

Living like a king

May 30, 2009

What’s this – an English castle in suburban Virginia?

McMansion3What’s with the giant crystal chandelier in the massive foyer, the countless “sitting rooms” and the 21st-century movie theater in the basement?

Who needs an industrial-size stainless steel kitchen and a marble bathroom next to every bedroom? And who, anymore, can afford to heat and cool rooms with 18-foot ceilings?

Lots of people, apparently. Although government statistics suggest that Americans are downsizing (the average square footage of single-family homes under construction plunged from 2,629 in the second quarter of 2008 to 2,343 in the fourth quarter) there is no shortage of McMansions a short drive outside Washington, D.C.

I know, because I see pictures a photographer friend takes for real estate agencies to stay afloat during the recession. My husband and I look, horrified, at his images of vast lawns, tennis courts, indoor pools, wet bars and giant wine cellars. “Who,” we ask each other, “would want to live like that?”

We feel rather proud of ourselves, in fact, having just closed on a 1,400-square-foot, 1940s brick home on a humble-looking street just outside the D.C. line. It’s a great little house, except it has almost no closets, only one bathroom, no guest room, no home office, and no room for a long dining room table or a kitchen island.

So we’ve hired an architect who’s designed a plan: we’ll blow out the back wall, dig an extra room in the basement, add space for a big walk-in closet or bathroom on the second floor, attach a screened-in porch on the side of the house…

homeaddSuddenly, our not-so-big house is starting to look – well, almost big. We’d even have room for a wine cellar and jaccuzzi one day if the budget permits – and a TV room in the basement. Could it be that we have more in common with those McMansion suburbanites than we think?