The kind of world where we belong
February 19, 2015 4:16 PM   Subscribe

His homes would give feudal-age rulers property envy. There’s the 28-bedroom, 32-bath, 12,500-square-foot French-inspired home in Brentwood that has an actual moat around it. The 30,000-square-foot European manor in Beverly Park. The 40,000-square-foot home with a 8,500-square-foot guest house in Beverly Hills.

Nearly becoming a teacher, he turned to California and became King of the Megamansion.
posted by four panels (63 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
 
Wow...this manages to combine two of my least favorite things: grotesquely over-the-top, conspicuous consumption, and a profit-driven moral relativism that shrugs off social responsibility by suggesting such concerns are a question for "sociologists."

A toxic brew that frankly makes me want to vomit.
posted by darkstar at 4:31 PM on February 19, 2015 [15 favorites]


"Mr. Landry,..., isn’t interested in class warfare."

His mansions *are* class warfare - the one percent waging it on the rest of us.
posted by notsnot at 4:39 PM on February 19, 2015 [19 favorites]


Why do rich people seem to have such bad taste in architecture?
posted by octothorpe at 4:41 PM on February 19, 2015 [25 favorites]


I don't know, whenever I am daydreaming about my Mega Lottery game ticket, I think about building a 10,000 sg/ft house with a built in basketball court, a home theatre, a nice bar, game rooms, and a whole bunch of bathrooms so I can go on a moments notice. The kitchen would be all commercial appliances and ready to serve pigs in a blanket to my football watching buddies on a moment's notice. I am not so sure about the moat, but the 8 car garage to keep all my motorized toys seems like a decent idea.

As for who will design it, I never thought about that until just now, but this cat, who listens to his clients instead of having his own style seems like a pretty good first call.
posted by 724A at 4:47 PM on February 19, 2015 [6 favorites]


Mr. Landry described himself as averse to media attention, and uninterested in fame.
So why the glossy multi page feature in the NY Times, is business running a little dry maybe?
posted by Lanark at 4:53 PM on February 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


Who will weep for the lickspittles?
posted by T.D. Strange at 4:55 PM on February 19, 2015 [12 favorites]


> Mr. Landry sometimes goes to great lengths to make a new home look very old, using hammers and nails to beat up stone columns...

There's a store near my house that caters to the 5% and hawks furniture which has been "distressed" until most of it looks like the tables and chairs my dad used in his workshop to paint and/or saw on.

The junk they sell for hundreds of dollars reminds me of that Simpsons joke: "They say he carved it himself, from a bigger spoon."
posted by The Card Cheat at 4:55 PM on February 19, 2015 [3 favorites]




Why do rich people seem to have such bad taste in architecture?


No one will tell them no. (Actually a lot of the houses are at least interesting looking - except for the Tuscan Stuff, nothing "Tuscan-themed" that's not actually IN Tuscany looks like hot garbage.)
posted by The Whelk at 4:57 PM on February 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


I was positive that was the same staircase from Maid to Order.
posted by mochapickle at 4:57 PM on February 19, 2015


Most middle class people have pretty shitty taste too.
posted by JPD at 5:03 PM on February 19, 2015 [15 favorites]


I bet he makes great fish ponds.
posted by thelonius at 5:04 PM on February 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


It's funny... many of these have some very nice elements--the covered loggia, the entrance to the faux Tuscan nonsense, etc--but when you put it all together it just screams yuck.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 5:07 PM on February 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


A reminder that The Queen of Versailles [prv] is on Netflix.

I wasn't horrified by his work. The staircase is striking and a bit Gehry-like, for example, his own modernist beach house is neat and straightforward, and even the whimsical giant barn he lived in formerly was interesting. The massive French country house was eh, although I hated the weird folly-like thing by the pool most of anything in this set.

The brilliant documentary Los Angeles Plays Itself has a segment where the critic Thom Andersen talks about how directors seem to hate modernism, often making some of L.A.'s greatest triumphs of modern architecture into dens of villainy as it were, right up to the present day (e.g. L.A. Confidential, or The Limey). Possibly they do this because it's where a lot of their bosses at the studios seem to live? One of the few really visible counterexamples might be Tony Stark's mansion, although the Iron Man films are also a bit explicit about him not being a nice guy.

Meanwhile the real terrors occupy dreck like Landry's neo-neo-neo seventeenth-generation xeroxes, but who wants to see that sort of place on screen? One example I can think of is the Riviera-style manse in Beverly Hills Cop. In any case, a great many of the styles that have been prevalent in US history are revivals of another era; even Wright's examples are explicitly Mayan.
posted by dhartung at 5:10 PM on February 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


Honestly, I liked several of the modern houses very much. (especially this entrance) On the other hand, this quote from Bad Santa also came to mind: "You people are monsters... I'm not talking about you taking me out. (That part, I get.) But look at all that shit. Do you really need all that shit? For Christ sakes, it's Christmas."
posted by Auden at 5:11 PM on February 19, 2015


His gym has a restaurant? My gym has a fridge with overpriced juices.

Also: Steve Martin is selling his Santa Barbara home.
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 5:24 PM on February 19, 2015 [5 favorites]


How has that house not been the lair of a Bond villain?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 5:35 PM on February 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


But Mr. Landry, who had a plebeian childhood as the son of a carpenter in rural Quebec (and didn’t learn English until he was 20), isn’t interested in class warfare. Whether the haves should practice self-restraint for the betterment of society is a matter for sociologists. “Is it right or wrong for somebody to build a big home?” he said. “I’m not the one to answer that question.”

I am a sociologist, and I can confirm that this man, his clientele, and people like them have way too much money.

Furthermore:

The following morning, he drove to another house he designed, this one in the flats of Beverly Hills and, at 23,000 square feet, the “large” example on the tour. The home’s exterior was clad in French limestone, which, along with the symmetrical design and graceful landscaping, gave it a formal classicism.

From the gate, Mr. Landry called the house manager, who came out and ushered him inside. And behind the huge iron door was — sorry, haters — a beautiful house.


Yeah. Haters. The millions of hungry American children and their hungry, ashamed parents, for example. Being hungry, or poor, or otherwise cheated by the system disposes one to potentially feel a twinge of some strong sensation when reading an article like this, and the NYT wants to tell you that you should just ignore that petty, silly feeling, which you should be embarrassed for feeling. What are you, some kind of sore loser?
posted by clockzero at 5:37 PM on February 19, 2015 [48 favorites]


Sorry, I must have missed something here. Why do we hate these houses?

How do you hate an inanimate thing, anyway?
posted by five fresh fish at 5:52 PM on February 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


I don't care what y'all say. I want a moat.
posted by dejah420 at 6:01 PM on February 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


> Why do we hate these houses?

We hate the greed, waste and conspicuous consumption of the 0.01% that is destroying America for the 99%, of which these houses are a very prominent symptom.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 6:15 PM on February 19, 2015 [11 favorites]


Eh, it's partially the conspicuous consumption, but also that people like this have the money to build almost anything, and they choose to build a copy a 700 year old farmhouse.
posted by LionIndex at 6:20 PM on February 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


octothorpe: "Why do rich people seem to have such bad taste in architecture?"

Money doesn't buy taste. Especially not new money.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:22 PM on February 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


The brilliant documentary Los Angeles Plays Itself has a segment where the critic Thom Andersen talks about how directors seem to hate modernism, often making some of L.A.'s greatest triumphs of modern architecture into dens of villainy as it were

That segment is a little overbaked. It might be relevant a bit going back a couple decades, but I think the Limey is really stretching the point (I think that house was picked because of the dramatic long shot where Malick throws the bodyguard over the railing, not because 'modernism' was being indicted). The Big Sur house was some pretty straightforward coastal redwood glam. LA, if anything, has always been more supportive of modernism up and down the social scale (the Case Study program, Eichler houses, A Quincy Jones & Crestwood Hill, etc.) than other parts of the country.

As to large faux-Tuscan, there's hardly a stylistic monopoly for garish home building. I can go for a ten minute drive and find you a dozen 25,000 sq ft+ houses that are by-the-numbers modernism.

The recently completed Legorreta house was on one of my running routes. While it was going up, I generally thought 'huh a better than average home builder/developer execution' but I certainly didn't think it was to the level of Legorreta (though honestly even at his best, I was never that fond). And it totally squats too large on the site, runs right up to the property line and is completely out of scale like all the other hacky tear downs happening all over the area.
posted by 99_ at 6:22 PM on February 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


Sometimes people want to live in massive ugly houses. I live in a small one in a fairly dense urban neighborhood environment, and I'm not in the least bit upset about it. I can walk to a popsicle shop when it's hot outside and that makes me happy. Can they do that?
posted by oceanjesse at 6:24 PM on February 19, 2015 [4 favorites]


Christ, what an asshole.

I guess to do this particular asshole justice, you'd need those rendered 35 feet high in Italian marble.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:24 PM on February 19, 2015


That first picture in the NYT piece, I dunno. It's all fun and games until the triffids have the run of the house.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 6:35 PM on February 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


It's not just me, right? I think about half of that article was bitingly sarcastic.
posted by bq at 6:36 PM on February 19, 2015


Why do rich people seem to have such bad taste in architecture?

I live on the dumpiest edge of a nice neighborhood that gets nicer as it gets farther away from my house. Most of the houses are older but every once in a while there's a teardown that results in a new house, or someone builds on the other half of their double lot, and I get excited watching the house go up. Sometimes I'm rewarded with a really great looking new thing to walk past every day, but usually I go by one day only to discover that what had been shaping up to be a nice place during construction has become, via the addition of pillars or railings or other decorative elements, something Carmela Soprano would disdain as tacky.

There's a store near my house that caters to the 5% and hawks furniture which has been "distressed" until most of it looks like the tables and chairs my dad used in his workshop to paint and/or saw on.

There is a store like this around the corner from me that I'm convinced is some kind of drug front or other money-laundering venture, because that type of furniture isn't really stylish any more and it's way overpriced and it's definitely not the sort of thing people in my neighborhood are into. It's possible that it is owned by whomever built the Mob palace around the other corner from me. It is a family joke, how angry this store makes me.
posted by padraigin at 6:37 PM on February 19, 2015 [7 favorites]


"Mr. Landry... isn’t interested in class warfare."

Yeah, it's weird how the people who have already won don't seem interested in fighting anymore.

It's not just me, right? I think about half of that article was bitingly sarcastic.

That joke isn't funny anymore
posted by clockzero at 6:39 PM on February 19, 2015


More troubling is the criticism that has come with being the favored architect of the 1 percent. He has been called the “mansion architect,” the “king of the tasteless megamansion” and, as one online commenter dubbed him, a purveyor of the “gigamansion.”

My. Poor fucking kitten.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 6:47 PM on February 19, 2015


there's a house on mckinley hwy a couple of miles west of elkhart that looks as though it's got a moat around it, thanks to a creek - it really startled me the first time i saw it
posted by pyramid termite at 6:47 PM on February 19, 2015


potsmokinghippieoverlord: "Also: Steve Martin is selling his Santa Barbara home."

Well that looks cozy.
posted by octothorpe at 6:51 PM on February 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


Also, Steve Martin's house looks fucking awesome, and I would totally live there.
posted by oceanjesse at 6:56 PM on February 19, 2015 [5 favorites]


Well that looks cozy

The thing is, there's a certain solidity to it. Brutalist architecture can be soul-destroying when it's deployed in the wrong place. But in that setting, I think it kind of works. I mean, if I was handed $11M to buy it, would I? Maybe.

If that same arechitecture was in a cold place that got serious actual winters, it would be positively Soviet. But where it's set, it kind of works. If you like that kind of thing. Also, the bunker-like setup probably makes it way energy efficient in the heat. I have nothing to back that up, but that's my sense.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 7:01 PM on February 19, 2015


On a lesser scale, when I was a kid my father's parents lived in a lovely little mid-20th-century split level. It had an upstairs and a downstairs, both a basement and a cellar, an attached garage and an enclosed porch, with room for sprawling green lawns in the front and back. It was a nice house, and pretty much the epitome of suburban middle-class aspiration at the time.

Some time after my grandmother passed away, I made a small detour just to take a look at the place. The new owners had bulldozed it altogether, and in its place built a gigantic McMansion that seems to abut the very edges of the property. It's oversized, it's vulgar, and it looks like it's about to overflow the property line at any moment. It's absurd, like André the Giant sitting in a kindergarten classroom. And yet there it is.

So it goes.
posted by Faint of Butt at 7:02 PM on February 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


At least Steve Martin's is honest about what it is
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 7:02 PM on February 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


Was it not for Prodigality, nothing could make us amends for the Rapine and Extortion of Avarice in Power. When a Covetous Statesman is gone, who spent his whole Life in fat’ning himself with the Spoils of the Nation, and had by pinching and plundering heap’d up an immense Treasure, it ought to fill every good Member of the Society with Joy, to behold the uncommon Profuseness of his Son. This is refunding to the Publick what was robb’d from it. Resuming of Grants is a barbarous way of stripping, and it is ignoble to ruin a Man faster than he does it himself, when he sets about it in such good earnest. Does he not feed an infinite number of Dogs of all Sorts and Sizes, tho’ he never hunts; keep more Horses than any Nobleman in the Kingdom, tho’ he never rides ’em, and give as large an Allowance to an ill-favour’d Whore as would keep a Dutchess, tho’ he never lies with her? Is he not still more extravagant in those things he makes use of? Therefore let him alone, or praise him, call him Publick-spirited Lord, nobly bountiful and magnificently generous, and in a few Years he’ll suffer himself to be stript his own way. As long as the Nation has its own back again, we ought not to quarrel with the manner in which the Plunder is repay’d.
-Mandeville, The Fable of the Bees
posted by shivohum at 7:20 PM on February 19, 2015 [4 favorites]


Rather than smugly showing off my ability to go to excess, I'd rather smugly show off my ability to live off of the grid/live green if I had that kind of money. "We're so efficient we put energy back into the grid. All of our water is fully utilized before it goes back into the system, and we collect every drop of rainwater that falls on the house. Let me show you my gigantic greenhouse full of organic vegetables, my beehives, my perfectly-timed rotation of livestock grazing and crops. Have a sample of our artisanal cheeses." And I'd donate what I couldn't eat to the local food pantry and have local school kids out to learn about milking goats. That sort of thing.

I'm pretty sure I'd still be insufferable, but at least there would be more good cheese in the world.
posted by emjaybee at 7:37 PM on February 19, 2015 [18 favorites]


pyramid termite: "there's a house on mckinley hwy a couple of miles west of elkhart that looks as though it's got a moat around it, thanks to a creek"

Peoria castle, with moat. They don't fill the moat anymore, it makes the basement flood, but you can see the bridge. Now it's owned by a plastic surgeon.

My sister and I like to drive through McMansion neighborhoods and play a game we call "Or a Single-Family Home?" You look at the giant ugly McMansion and say, "Miss Minchin's Select Seminary for Young Ladies ... or a single-family home?" "Badly-built medieval castle with no defensive features ... or a single-family home?" "High-end orphanage for the bastard spawn of the nobility ... or a single-family home?"
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:37 PM on February 19, 2015 [8 favorites]


Personally, I think those places look fabulous.

Only thing I'd add is pitchfork-wielding mobs, but those will be coming soon enough.
posted by sonascope at 7:40 PM on February 19, 2015 [6 favorites]


Also: Steve Martin is selling his Santa Barbara home.

Holy shit, it's the secret offices from lawnmower man.

In all seriousness though, that house could look really cool if they stopped trying to put modern furniture in it. It's begging for some offensively 70s furniture. A coworker of mine, who was in his 20s in the 70s, has a house that's both architecturally super of that era, and all of his interior decorating is well... stuff he bought then, or since then that matches. It looks AWESOME.

Putting modern stuff in that Steve Martin house is like putting rococo furniture in a dorm room.

I'd rather smugly show off my ability to live off of the grid/live green if I had that kind of money. "We're so efficient we put energy back into the grid. All of our water is fully utilized before it goes back into the system, and we collect every drop of rainwater that falls on the house

I thought this was starting to happen, but looking at the houses of even people like Elon Musk it doesn't seem to be? I know the early 2000s dotcom era CEOs were getting in to this though, in the EV-1 era. Bill Gates, etc have super solar-powered alternative energy water reusing sort of houses.

Now though, it seems like it's mostly the upper middle class small business owner types who are getting way in to this with their plug in hybrids, solar arrays, water collection systems, vegetable gardens, and all that. The megarich seem to have moved on back to just weird houses. It's kinda too bad honestly.
posted by emptythought at 7:41 PM on February 19, 2015


It's absurd, like André the Giant sitting in a kindergarten classroom. And yet there it is.

Yeah, my folks live in a neighbourhood that's all (or once was) all cute little postwar bungalows. They're plunked on lots that have pretty sizeable back yards. They were houses which, when they were built, were considered to be decent-sized homes for a middle-class family of four.

The thing is, people have seized upon this neighbourhood and knocked down the bungalows and but up these...boxes that take over most of the footprint of the lot.

The most egregious example is one that has retained a postage-stamp front lawn that the owners turned into aritficial turf.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 8:06 PM on February 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


I realize I'm supposed to hate the houses, but I really don't. They've got nicely thought out proportion and seem to have a careful organization and hierarchy of space, something many many architects ignore or forget. Fake-Tuscan and fake-French are a bit cheesy, yeah, but he seems to have done them pretty well, considering that's what the client likely demanded.

Which is another point: he actually seems to be listening to his clients and making what they want, rather than designing a giant sculpture the way he wants and then half-assedly hollowing a building out of it. It's more than you can say for a lot of the buildings that show up in architectural magazines, which look to have been built to be photographed rather than lived or worked in.

It's pretty gross that a few people have this level of money to spend while others are on the street. But if you can separate that from the issue of architectural style*, these are really quite good.

* for example, you can be a pretty hardcore atheist and still think cathedrals are gorgeous
posted by echo target at 8:37 PM on February 19, 2015 [8 favorites]


The real issue is that the same lot that holds one 23000 sq ft mansion could instead support affordable housing for many families of more modest means. No one is going to knock down an N-million dollar mansion to make affordable housing. So what he's really doing is transferring that land, in perpetuity, to the one percent. Argue all you want, but they aren't making any more land.
posted by newdaddy at 9:04 PM on February 19, 2015


So what he's really doing is transferring that land, in perpetuity, to the one percent.

The development where most of discussed projects are located was mostly derived from a single plot of land, so that's not precisely the case. And that lot probably was owned by the Doheny family (who owned basically everything north of Sunset in Beverly Hills at one point) before that. That's not to say it isn't one of the most excessive and awful examples of conspicuous consumption, but it's really not any different than the Hamptons or Nantucket. Excusing the latter because they are thought of as more 'tasteful' is a more egregious form a class warfare in my mind. Some of these home are under construction for more than two years. That's a lot of skilled labor.

One thing the Times does exceptionally well is find targets to safely beyond the established WASPy east coast elite for their faux populism. All those Russians! Buying the Time Warner Center! Oh, and here's another glowing recollection of Brooke Astor.
posted by 99_ at 9:55 PM on February 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


Ugh. The town I grew up in has a lot of those godawful faux-European monstrosities-- if you're in the DC area, the stretch of River Road between the Beltway and Falls has some doozies. My favorite is the one with bronze eagles on the gateposts; when the palm trees they'd optimistically lined the driveway with died, they replaced them with fakes.

Actually, the sole pastime my mother and I both enjoy is driving around residential neighborhoods and critiquing the houses. I tend to get excited about nice prewar construction (ooh, a turret! oh, I like the wraparound porch! oh no, why did they knock down that cute bungalow!?), while she prefers to speculate about what in God's name they were thinking when they put that addition on.
posted by nonasuch at 10:05 PM on February 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


They've got nicely thought out proportion and seem to have a careful organization and hierarchy of space, something many many architects ignore or forget.

That's a really good point. From the interior shots there does seem to be a flow to the spaces; it's the fripperies that push them into bad taste. Sometimes I feel like (st)architects would do much better to design the interior flow first, and let the form follow the function. (Or maybe they do and it all gets gummed up somehow).
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:04 AM on February 20, 2015


Whenever I see these sorts of absurdly big houses, I imagine them far into the future, when they're all occupied by multiple families a la Soviet Russia.
posted by RedEmma at 4:54 AM on February 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


In which case it is a good thing there are a lot of toilets
posted by thegirlwiththehat at 5:05 AM on February 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


oceanjesse: "Also, Steve Martin's house looks fucking awesome, and I would totally live there."

I guess that this isn't a problem in southern California but this northeasterner looks at all that exposed concrete and shivers uncontrollably.
posted by octothorpe at 5:28 AM on February 20, 2015


I guess that this isn't a problem in southern California but this northeasterner looks at all that exposed concrete and shivers uncontrollably.

It's like all that Le Corbusier-inspired architecture that's wonderful in equatorial climates but horrendous when plunked down on a Scottish moor somewhere.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 7:06 AM on February 20, 2015


That "rustic home in Quebec" looks like a Thomas Kinkade painting.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 7:46 AM on February 20, 2015 [1 favorite]




potsmokinghippieoverlord: "Joe Cocker's widow is selling their ranch in Colorado -$7 million"

Huh, I've actually noticed that house when poking around in the mountains on Google Earth.
posted by notsnot at 11:18 AM on February 20, 2015


My grandfather designed houses and such for the old money of Pittsburgh (and don't I wish I could afford one), many of them during the Great Depression. When others deplored this kind of conspicuous consumption, he pointed out that it was creating jobs for large numbers of builders and craftsmen who might otherwise be on the bread lines. (Sadly, many of the skills that went into his work seem to have gone the way of all flesh.)

My other grandfather boosted FDR, if not Norman Thomas. A mixed marriage, my parent's.
posted by BWA at 3:00 PM on February 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


At least Steve Martin's is honest about what it is
What? A teeny tiny Birmingham?
posted by fullerine at 8:18 PM on February 20, 2015


I don't understand all the anger towards the people who buy and produce such homes. I agree they are quite extravagant and sprawling but I find the technical skill and construction knowledge required to create these buildings pretty staggering. Just how some of the roofs are shaped, or how the special features are integrated into the larger structure exhibit a degree of skill that many professionals in the building and construction field don't have. So my first point is even though some will think the homes ugly, I do consider them quite artistic. Also plenty of the more "affordable" homes being built these days are going up with the minimum construction requirements and cheaper materials. I personally don't think they are designed to last as well as these mansions!

If people can marvel in awe over Europe's castles and the grand 18th and early 19th mansions of America (A&E's America's Castles is a great show that highlights these homes by the way) I don't see why these should be singled out for scorn.

Speaking of castles in Europe, I also wanted to say this sort of extravagant display of architecture has been going on for centuries all over the world. It's nothing new, powerful people have been doing it in ancient and medieval times (not that those eras were any better for poor people).

Unlike the situation 300 years ago, I don't see how this architecture is harming working class people such as myself or those in dire poverty. The kind of people living in these homes likely donate more cash to worthy charities (even if only for the tax breaks) than any average middle class person with a heart of gold could.

I work in a field where I see these kinds of homes regularly. I make very little money but these sorts of buildings are business which brings in a bit more money to my company and makes my job more secure if I can get the business. These homes require specialized staff to upkeep (another reason why they have so many bedrooms) and provide work and housing for a working class staff (gardeners, nannies, in-home cooks, cleaners, security people etc). Some of the homes I have seen are large specifically because they have a staff quarters section.

In the home construction industry, the best money for the framers, roofers etc. come from the privately built luxury homes. Many of the people on the contracting and subcontracting teams come from working class or poverty. Unlike with the more economically priced subdivisions, the workers are more likely to get paid on time for the agreed upon price and it's less stressful if the schedule is running a bit late (due to weather delays etc). One doesn't have to push through unsafe conditions as much. These private luxury homes sometimes have owners who change their mind about how they want something to look, so work lasts longer as sections get revised and redone.

Not all of these homes are built in glamorous big cities, and the building of these in small towns of more impoverished provinces and states bring work to the locals even if the key people in charge and materials are being flown in (those building the home, those delivering the supplies, security to watch the site etc.)

Back to my field, I want to add readers here would be surprised just how common these kind of homes are! It is easy to imagine a bunch of out-of-touch old money types, vapid celebrities /athletes, or predatory business people only owning these mansions. But there are people with more "acceptable" circumstances / jobs like lawyers, surgeons, tradespeople who made it big through skill, and average folk who won lotteries who want to live like this. Hey, if I won the lottery I would!

I suppose I could go on in more lurid detail but I should have posted anonymously to do that!
posted by partly squamous and partly rugose at 3:54 AM on February 21, 2015


I look at these pictures of "homes" and try to envision living there, the messiness of life being present, and I can't. That is my problem with these places. I can not imagine a person living there let alone a family. I think they are beautiful in a lot of ways, but just not the way that life can happen. Perhaps it is a fault of my imagination. The pictures feel like high end hotels that you are never supposed to be truly comfortable in.
posted by Belle O'Cosity at 5:37 AM on February 21, 2015


I look at these pictures of "homes" and try to envision living there, the messiness of life being present, and I can't. That is my problem with these places.

I came in to say the same. How do people just live their everyday lives in a house with 28 bedrooms and 32 bathrooms? I can't get my head around the numbers. You have 15...16...25 kids? No. You're an A-list celebrity and your entire entourage and their families live with you like a Beyonce-commune? No. I mean, 32 bathrooms? How does it even work? You wouldn't ever see most of the house beyond the few rooms you lived in.

At some point the amount of rooms becomes stupid and useless. I understand status and owning fancy jets and snazzy cars and spending obscene amounts of money on items of "value," but what the hell is anyone supposed to do with 28 bedrooms? I can understand 10, maybe 12. At some point it just becomes idiotic. Wouldn't even the least savvy, bad taste, new money people look at that type of home and laugh?
posted by kinetic at 6:38 AM on February 21, 2015


That is my problem with these places. I can not imagine a person living there let alone a family. I think they are beautiful in a lot of ways, but just not the way that life can happen.

Some of the bedrooms are as big as a ballet studio, and I'm not sure that I would even be able to sleep in such a cavernous place. (My dreamhouse has a napping area / guest sleeping area that's pretty much just an elevated alcove with a mattress and a window in it.)

Although having my own little movie theater would be wonderful and an underground grotto for swimming would be wonderful. But the living spaces that big, I would feel like a wandering ghost.
posted by mochapickle at 7:28 AM on February 21, 2015


partly squamous and partly rugose: "If people can marvel in awe over Europe's castles and the grand 18th and early 19th mansions of America (A&E's America's Castles is a great show that highlights these homes by the way) I don't see why these should be singled out for scorn."

Well, because the people who built those are dead, so we can admire their excesses without being subjected to them ourselves. But in their own time they were known as "robber barons" or "slave plantation owners" or "shoddy millionaires" or "war profiteers" or "swindling millionaires" or "toffs" or "arrivistes" or "ci-devants" or "rentiers" or "banksters" or "1%ers" or "oligarchs" or on and on and on.

Nobody likes them when they're still in charge.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 11:31 AM on February 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


> Also, Steve Martin's house looks fucking awesome, and I would totally live there.

I'd love to visit it, but live there? Brutalist architecture always reminds me of those bunkers you'd run into in the original Doom game, and putting down carpet and hanging some nice paintings does not really help all that much. YMMV
posted by The Card Cheat at 11:48 AM on February 21, 2015


At least Steve Martin's is honest about what it is

What? A teeny tiny Birmingham?


No, it just says that money lives there. There's no faux-farm house pretense there. Probably a trapdoor that leads into a shark tank though.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 7:01 PM on February 21, 2015


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