Revamping The McMansion

Revamping The McMansion

March 28, 2016


Mansions and McDonalds. Typically, you wouldn’t put those two words in the same sentence as one another.

One invokes luxury, opulence, frivolity and wealth, while the other typically conjures up images of frugality, convenience, and the last resort on a too-long roadtrip. Mansions and McDonalds just typically don’t go together.

Which is why the term “McMansion” might sound like a bit of a misnomer. Are we trying to class up McDonalds, or bring the mansion into the realm of possibility? 

The term “McMansion” can mean any number of things, but typically, it refers to large, mass-produced homes, typically built on the outskirts of towns (to avoid higher property taxes,) often adorned with tacky accents (think faux oil paintings in gold frames,) and cheap building materials (faux stucco, styrofoam crown molding, etc)


Cookie Cutter McMansion


That’s where I come in.


Taking on a McMansion can be daunting. The houses aren’t so much styled as they are themed. From Mediterranean, French Country, Tudor, Colonial, or some strange and awkward combination of all of the above, I’m never really sure what we’re going to be working with.

Decorators in the 90's filled these McMansions with dark colors, heavy poorly made furniture reminiscent of the Victorian Era, which was known to be the most "garish" period in the history of design! While you can’t always do anything about the architecture of a home, there is plenty you can do in the interior space to take one of these “McMansions” to the next level.


There are a few steps I’ve taken in my current project in revamping a McMansion.


1) Clean Lines


It is amazing what happens when you replace the poor quality polyester fabric covered furniture with natural linens and clean lines. These choices will take a room from somewhere you avoid, to somewhere you can't wait to get to at the end of the day.


Select fresh new rug designs from companies that use naturally yarns and are socially responsible. 

Tamarin Hand Crafted Rugs made in Tibetan 

2) Original Art


To give your place an instant boost, original art, quality or antique prints will transform any space from kitschy to modern and clean. Even if you think nobody can tell, the faux oil paintings and "Home Goods" art will stand out like a sore thumb. You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars, but hit up your local art gallery and splurge on a few tasteful, original items to transform your space.


3) Quality Furniture


I cannot overstate this. If you buy cheap furniture, your space will feel cheap. A high quality piece of furniture may be more expensive up front, but you won't have to replace it nearly as often as the pressboard stuff that you buy from department stores. Spring for the good stuff here.


4) Avoid Clutter


One of the temptations I see in a lot of these McMansion style homes, is the tendency to feel the need to fill all the empty space with stuff. Every table has to have a lamp. Every counter has to have an appliance. Not so. Avoiding clutter will keep your space airy, open, light, and allow you to focus on a few nice items, rather than filling your house with kitsch.

The kitchen space below was transformed by Rachel Eve Design [kitchen & bath design] of Palm Beach Gardens, was updated to a more functional space that is light and airy.


Cushions and pillows are being custom made for the banquette below with fabrics that reflect the design elements and colors from the kitchen. 

The stone, and other materials below, have been chosen for other design features in the works for this "Transformed McMansion".

Fabrics by Perrenial and Kravet Paint by Benjamin Moore 

These cookie-cutter style homes don't seem to be going anywhere. As cities get more expensive, and people want more space, the only place to go is further out of town. There’s more land, more space, and you can build as you please.


If you do end up in a home like this, remember that you can very easily take something that looks mass produced, kitschy, and gaudy, and with a few simple steps, transform into a home that is inviting, tasteful, and a true reflection of who you are.

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