Flashback: Always the Bridesmaid…

This series of posts originally appeared on McMansion Makeover 1.0 on 9/18/15 and 9/22/15 respectively:

Occasionally I’ll contemplate entering an architecture competition.  In most cases I’ll register, pay the entry fee, and proceed to procrastinate and ultimately not do anything.  I’m more like a benefactor of competitions. Competitions are especially popular for the professor-type architects that like to pontificate and theorize on whether Corbusier was a cross-dresser, but ultimately don’t design anything that gets built.  There are actual competitions that do lead to commissions but often those are reserved for the uber-elite of the profession who have sold their souls to Satan.  Bjarke Ingels specializes in them as well as having a disarming Danish accent.  He’s also easy on the eyes.

With that being said, I came across this new website Arcbazar.com that is trying to make a few nickels getting really cheap people to post design projects.  It’s not a bad idea but I think the creators probably haven’t quit their day job.  For amounts ranging from $500-$2000 someone may ask for a design for their bathroom or a whole house (those are the really cheap people).  But, hey, architects/designers don’t care about money anyway right?  It’s all about scratching that pleasure zone when you work out that perfect floor plan like the demigod you are.  Or is that just me.

I was looking for a competition that was simple and quick and perhaps related to the McMansion Makeover theme.  I quickly found someone who was looking for help improving the curb appeal of their house for the king’s ransom of $500.  Check out this trainwreck:

This is a McMansion with cancer.  There is so much wrong here I can’t even begin to put it into words.  I have no idea where it’s located but I think it must be just outside Charlotte, NC.  I’m amazed that the owner realized they need help with curb appeal because if they have that level of awareness how the hell did they agree to buy the place in the first place.  Maybe it was inherited.  Maybe the husband or wife gave into the other because it’s convenient to the Piggly Wiggly or their favorite fishing hole and they are secretly reaching out to show the other what they could do with the place.  They’re praying to God they don’t see the $500 on the credit card.

In the end, as usual, I almost missed the deadline (at least it wouldn’t have cost me anything).  I gave it about 3 hours and here’s what I came up with.

The thought is to fill in this hole where the existing front door is with something that more clearly establishes the entrance.  The gable at the second floor would tie into the odd dormer thingamajig to clean things up a bit.  This would be a double height space in the entrance for a bit of drama (but not too much drama) and light.  The roofline on the right side of the entrance would carry across and form a porch with the inexplicable french doors.  Columns that turn into pilasters attempt to bring some unity to this mess.  A new pediment over the door further lends to create a focal point.  I conveniently located to trees to block the rest.  Short of burning the place down, this is the best I could do.

From 9/22/15:

The McMansion Master is happy to report we garnered 2nd place in the arcbazar.com competition!  For our effort we pockets $145 of the winnings.  Considering I spent about 3 hours on it that’s not too shabby.  Hey it’s a steak dinner!  Here’s a link to the competition page:  http://www.arcbazar.com/facade-design/competition/exterior-elevation-curb-appeal-help-needed-united-states-florida-windemere

Congratulations to the winner, Jeff Ribnik, Architect

First Place, Jeff Ribnik Architect

Image Exterior Elevation - C...

Second Place, Yours Truly

View 01

Third Place, Gordana Vujasevic

Option 1: light grey m...


Big Pimpin’

I thought I’d go with an totally over the top title for this rather modest, straightforward makeover.  You can’t really be little pimpin’ anyway.

Flashback: Portlandia

As pure midweek filler I’m planning to post past blog posts from McMansion Makeover 1.0.  This entry was my first actual makeover of a real house with a real person.  Enjoy!

Original post from 3/30/16:

The sum of what I know about Portland, Oregon is as follows:

  • The used to have a basketball team. The team moved to Oklahoma City (boy when you lose out to Oklahoma City, just sayin’). Big Massive Embarrassing Correction!:  The demise of the Portland Trailblazers was grossly exaggerated.  They are alive and well.  It was the Seattle Supersonics that moved to OKC.  Not only am I embarrassed as someone who thought they follow sports pretty closely but I revealed by East Coast bias by confusing Portland and Seattle.  My apologies to Clyde the Glide Drexler. 
  • There is a comedy called Portlandia with Fred Armistead that is set there which I have never watched although I hear is quite funny.  I did see Fred Armistead on Celebrity Game Night and he was hilarious.
  • A couple of dudes named Lewis & Clark explored it and then left.

Actually, I did read an interesting book about the area (interesting if you like stories about people freezing and starving to death). It was called Astoria:  John Jacob Astor & Thomas Jefferson’s Lost Pacific Empire: A Story of Wealth, Ambition, and Survival by Peter Stark (say that five times fast).  It recounts an expedition sponsored by fat cat John Jacob Astor to settle the Pacific Northwest and establish a fur-trading empire stretching the width of the continent and points beyond.  While finding creative ways to get lost and get killed by Native Americans, the group eventually made it (in canoe no less) and started a fledgling operation.  While they did establish a foothold, it never quite panned out for ole’ Jacob so he comforted himself with lighting cigars with $100 bills.

Why am I writing this?  Because out of the clear blue a lovely woman contacted me about her house in the Portland suburbs that she felt lacked curb appeal.  To protect the innocent I’ll call her Karen.  Karen represents somebody I wasn’t sure existed.  A person who buys a McMansion yet understands that something is wrong with their house.  I thought most people that would buy a house like that would, let’s say, lack the aptitude for discerning its foibles.  Well smack me and call me Judy, because Karen knew something was amiss and as they say, the first step in recovery is to admit there is a problem.  What is Karen’s problem?  Take a look:

Let’s start with the exterior wall material.  Stucco!  Stucco absorbs a good deal of water and great care needs to be taken to make sure the water can drain out or you can get wall rot (yummy!).  So needless to say stucco would be a poor choice of material for a place WHERE IT RAINS EVERYDAY.  That’s why it’s historically seen in dryer climates.  In fact, Karen informed me that the use of EIFS or synthetic stucco is now banned there because of the problems that have developed.  She also told me the builders were originally from Texas so I guess they thought they’d build like they were still in the Lone Star state.  Aside from that the house has a couple mcmansion staples.  The Garage-Face is exacerbated by a double and single garage door arrangement.  The dinosaur entrance is bi-polar.  It’s your typical double-height portico but it’s partially embedded like it’s trying to hide. Sorry we can still see you.  So here’s the makeover . . .

First things first, let’s bring this entrance portico to the front like a boss.  I’m not typically a huge fan of these large entrances but this was the only way find some balance with the monster garage.  I can’t do much about the garage arrangement so I gave it a little more character with some arched doors with windows.  The chimney appears to have a charming brick exterior so I wrapped that around the base to tie things together a bit more.  The upper material I see as Hardi-plank sheets.  To breakdown the scale of the entrance I added a decorative beam with a little ironwork.  So how did Karen like it?  I’ll let her speak for herself:

“That is amazing. I cannot thank you enough!!! I now can see how to make it more attractive- you read my mind on the design deficits and the fix! I may have to do siding as ef is stucco just doesn’t work in our climate / water damage issues and it just won’t sell- but your concept shows what can be done to remedy the issue. This is truly such a help.”

I asked Karen to keep me abreast of the progress.  I’ll keep you posted.



This post has been updated because of a big massive embarrassing mistake.

The McMansion Bowl!

On the eve of The Game That Shall Not Be Mentioned, here is the epic showdown between the two opposing quarterbacks.  They will not be measured by yards, touchdowns, or qb ratings.  They will be measured by their houses.  The question? Who is a true blue McMansion dweller.  Check out the video to find out!

Word is Born

Okay, it’s 2017, and I’ve made a resolution to really work on this blog.  I mean really work on it.  Really.  With only about a post every 3 months I’ve been contacted by the Wall Street Journal for a quote and was contacted by two production companies about turning McMansion Makeover into a show.  Imagine if I had a weekly post.  I’d probably get a cabinet position (That’s not an exaggeration).  Of course I’m already in my head making big plans for things like a You Tube channel and making my own damn show (never heard back from those TV people, I’m not bitter).  I’ll make plans so big I’ll make the alternative of Netflixing and chilling look so much nicer.  No! I’m in it to win it.  So without further ado here’s my first episode reintroducing myself for the umpteenth time: