Susan Orlean Versus the Too-Big House

Susan Orlean Versus the Too-Big House

Sarah Coffey
Jun 22, 2011

Susan Orlean has a way of finding larger meaning within small, personal circumstances. This summer, she and her extended family are having a reunion in Hilton Head, where they're renting a "very ugly house, but fancy. And very, very big." Imagine a beach house with five bedrooms, four bathrooms, and triple-height ceilings. In a blog post for the New Yorker, she ruminates on the American fixation with mega-mansions, weighing the merits of small homes like Frank Lloyd Wright's Penfield House against big homes "swollen to bursting, built to the very edge of the property line."

She pinpoints a sense of absurdism in the drive towards bigger houses — especially vacation homes, which "are so often located somewhere people go because they want to enjoy the natural environment" but sprawl across their lots, overtaking the landscape.

Do you think Americans love mega-mansions? Why do we keep building bigger — especially in vacation destinations? Share your thoughts in the comments.

READ THE FULL STORY: The Too-Big House by Susan Orlean

Photo: Hilton Head House by Jeff Kubina used under Creative Commons License 2.0

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