This house was too big and this house is too small

September 14, 2010|By TIM ROWLAND

About five years ago, I saw an actual floor plan for what I considered to be the perfect house.

Basically, it was a rectangle with two stories. The first story was a four-car garage. The second floor was -- well, truth be told I don't remember what the second floor was, because it had me at four-car garage.

I can't say whether the whole McMansion fad was female-driven or not. My initial thought would be that it was, because to a guy all a house is is a life-support system for a refrigerator and a TV set.

From a housing standpoint, I was never happier than when I had a studio apartment where the television was 12 feet (I measured) from the fridge. If I want to hike, I'll go to the Appalachian Trail; I don't want to do it in my own house.


But several women I've talked to say that the McMansion was not their idea. Frankly, they seem a bit put off and even embarrassed by the opulence-without-taste paradigm.

Their view is that, yes, men may only want a handful of creature comforts, but their egos require about 3,000 square feet of hangar space, minimum.

Further, they state that if men had to clean the house, we'd all be living in yurts.

Well, whatever the case, as Mick Jagger would say, it's all over now. The McMansion, multiple news sources report, is dead. Somewhere, the manufacturers of Jacuzzis are wearing black.

Isn't that always the way? Just when you've figured out what you're going to do with the butler's pantry, the whole movement comes to an end.

And now you're stuck with it -- a 7,000-square-foot monument telling everyone that you're hopelessly out of style. And a house isn't like a pair of Uggs -- you can't just give it to Goodwill.

Fortunately, this is Washington County, where a trend can hang on by its fingernails for years after it has bitten the national dust. So owners of McMansions can hope that the locals won't notice that they're living in the El Camino of housing stock for some time to come.

But as the nation goes, McMansions are declasse, so naturally that means that something has stepped in to fill the void. And that means that we have finally come to our senses and are living in sensibly sized homes with a sensible number of rooms, right?

Oh, no no no no. That would make sense. And despite the best efforts of President Obama, this is still America and that means that, by law, we have to replace our bad ideas with something much worse.

And that would be the "Tiny House" movement that's sweeping the country -- or at least Vermont.

These houses are small enough to be pulled by a pickup, although they do not appear to be as spacious as the average travel trailer. Picture a Dumpster with wood siding and a toilet.

The bathroom of a typical model is 4 feet by 2 feet. At 6 feet 3 inches, the ceiling would give me one full inch to spare. The bedroom is in the loft and is the size of a queen bed, although the literature confesses that the house is "a bit small for two people."

The cost is $46,000, which sounds good until you figure that this is about what the average house on the West End is going for these days.

But then it seems that we always want to correct our excesses with excesses. If we've eaten too much we want to starve ourselves. If we used to drive a Hummer, now we want a Geo. If we lived in a great room, now we want a closet.

It would save a lot of grief if we could just pick a happy medium and stick with it.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 6997, or via e-mail at"> Tune in to the Rowland Rant video under">, on or on Antietam Cable's WCL-TV Channel 30 evenings at 6:30. New episodes are released every Wednesday.

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