All architecture buffs, and anyone who has suffered work on bloated buildings and ostentatious homes, will love Kate Wagner’s McMansion Hell (mcmansionhell.com)—a smart, well-informed blog that pokes fun at bad residential architecture. Cabinetmaker Mark Luzio, who is a stickler for classical proportion in his woodwork, turned me on to this site while we were working on an article about an entryway on a Colonial tavern he restored (see “All Roads Lead to ‘D,’” May/16). “She gets it right,” said Luzio. I imagine most JLC readers will laugh out loud but also learn a thing or two about exterior design and interior finishes.
Most of her articles critique online real-estate listings and include marked-up photos like the examples above. Some of my favorite labels Wagner has added to other real-estate photos are the following: “More roof than house with soulless window holes,” “Car hole,” “The after-thought dormer,” “Giant pediment boner” (referring to an oversized triangle balanced on spindly entryway columns), “The Mighty Crown Molding Ziggurat is now welcoming applications for sacrificial tributes” (referring to a triple-decker tray ceiling), and “3-story Pringle can of shame” (referring to a tall, tower entry).
The blog is not entirely critical. Wagner provides many examples of well-proportioned, functional, and beautiful exteriors and serves up a solid education in historical home styles. In a recent message, she clarified that the purpose of her site, which has the face of Ronald Reagan peeking through the logo, is not to air political commentary: “I have no hidden agenda in this blog. My goal, like the goals of the rest of my colleagues in the field of urbanism, is to promote better, more livable, sustainable communities and to urge others to care about architecture, which I love so much.”