The McMansion Is Dead

This heartless recession has stolen from America our most treasured national totems. Huge SUVs? Too gas-guzzling. Sprawling suburbs far removed from the "diverse" cities? Reduced to slums. And now, the recession is coming for our very homes.

By "our," I mean "people with too much money and too little taste." The WSJ says that the humble McMansion—the rightful reward of all hardworking Americans willing to take on a $450,000 mortgage and a 75-minute commute in order to have a huge, useless foyer lined with the thinnest sheet of marble veneer—is no longer the popular thing to build, for builders who want to build homes that will actually sell. Shrines to conspicuous consumption are out! By necessity.

Goodbye, grand foyers! Adios, spiral staircases! Hello, newly poor American rationalizing their now meager living spaces like a bunch of formerly wealthy people wiped out by financial calamity—which they are!

Builders say families want an integrated and open area encompassing the kitchen, family room and dining area. And a separate great room-a cavernous bonus room for the piano or wicker furniture-is out. Now buyers "are OK with having a great room with three functions," says Steve Ruffner, president of KB Home's Southern California division. "They separate spaces more with furniture than their walls."

"I'd like a small house with one single open room which I will call lots of different things in order to make myself feel fancier," say Americans.

[WSJ, photo via Andrew Guyton/Flickr]