Millennials are ditching the cookie-cutter McMansion for the 'McModern'

For nearly 40 years, the McMansion has dominated American suburbs. The cookie-cutter homes, which typically measure between 3,000 and 5,000 square feet, are meant to exude affluence without costing buyers a fortune. Some architects have criticized the home style for its lazy design and haphazard construction.

In recent years, the McMansion has fallen out of fashion for a new type of home: the "McModern." Like the McMansion, the McModern is designed for the masses. But instead of borrowing from traditional architectural styles, McModerns take inspiration from modernist architecture, characterized by an emphasis on vertical or horizontal lines, ample natural light, and a clean aesthetic.

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20 of the ugliest McMansions in America
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20 of the ugliest McMansions in America

20. Loudoun Co, VA

"Huzzah! Money can actually buy taste! Loudoun County, the wealthiest county in the country, is at the very bottom of the Top 20 List, with this cheap, remarkably boring tract home."

(Image courtesy of Worst of McMansions)

19. Hunterdon Co, NJ

"Another tract house hub, as evidenced by this dated, low-budget estate."

(Image courtesy of Worst of McMansions)

18. Prince William Co, VA

"Tract house or cult compound? You decide!"

(Image courtesy of Worst of McMansions)

17. Oakland Co, MI

"Though this house is still a mess, it got bonus points for its use of high-quality materials."

(Image courtesy of Worst of McMansions)

16. Charles Co, MD

"Ah, yes, the rare 1.5-story McMansion. Truly a remarkable sight."

(Image courtesy of Worst of McMansions)

15. Douglas Co, CO

"While the individual elements that make up this house aren’t that bad, the combination is confusing and busy."

(Image courtesy of Worst of McMansions)

14. Nassau Co, NY

"Like a worse version of the house above, the eye can't focus with this busy combination of different features."

(Image courtesy of Worst of McMansions)

13. Santa Clara Co, CA

"Here we have our classic West Coast Tract House, complete with beige 'stucco' and goofy turret."

(Image courtesy of Worst of McMansions)

12. Howard Co, MD

"The mix of brick and stone, along with the number of masses, makes this house a mess!"

(Image courtesy of Worst of McMansions)

11. Calvert Co, MD

"A throwback to the McMansions of yesteryear, featuring monolithic stucco, a gaggle of gables, and inappropriate window styles."

(Image courtesy of Worst of McMansions)

10. Fort Bend Co, TX

"This is perhaps one of the most bizarre houses I've encountered yet."

(Image courtesy of Worst of McMansions)

9. Rockwall Co, TX

"Everything's bigger in Texas!"

(Image courtesy of Worst of McMansions)

8. Somerset Co, NJ

"Ah, New Jersey. Home of oversized, overdone McMansions since 1980. This house would fit right in around 2005."

(Image courtesy of Worst of McMansions)

7. Morris County, NJ

"When people say that McMansions are built cheap, this is what they're referring to."

(Image courtesy of Worst of McMansions)

6. Fairfax Co, VA

"Ah, Fairfax Co. One of the most infamous DC Suburbs in terms of sheer ... ugh. This house is no different."

(Image courtesy of Worst of McMansions)

5. Forsyth Co, GA

"Does anyone else feel like their souls are being sucked out? No? Just me?"

(Image courtesy of Worst of McMansions)

4. Suffolk Co, NY

"It's like a McDonald's from 1996 except a house and in hell."

(Image courtesy of Worst of McMansions)

3. Williamson Co, TN

"Behold, the beige Monolith of the Mountains."

(Image courtesy of Worst of McMansions)

2. Stafford Co, VA

"I regret to inform you that there is, in fact, a worse one."

(Image courtesy of Worst of McMansions)

1. Montgomery Co, MD

"Presented without comment."

(Image courtesy of Worst of McMansions)

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That's according to Kate Wagner, the author of "McMansion Hell," a popular blog that explains exactly why the homes are thought to be so hideous. In a recent Curbed article, Wagner writes that McModerns have been popping up in liberal cities on the West Coast, the Southwest, and the East Coast. And they've become popular with young, tech-focused, highly-educated millennials.

Unlike the McMansion, the McModern is often more minimalist, she said. McModerns can lack the ornamentation that define McMansions, like bump-outs with mix-matched materials and cathedral ceilings.

Modernist architecture emerged in the first half of the 20th century. Famous architects who designed in the style include Frank Lloyd Wright (Fallingwater in Mill Run, Pennsylvania), Philip Johnson (the Seagram Building in Manhattan), and Le Corbusier (Notre du Haut in Ronchamp, France).

Unlike most modernist homes, McModerns are usually not made by individual architects, but by home-building companies that use pattern books. Similar to the McMansion, the McModern is a single-family home constructed from cheap materials, like vinyl and stucco board.

As Wagner notes, many of today's homebuyers view the modernist building as a high-brow form of architecture. But with the McModern, many qualities of the McMansion still exist — it's still mass-produced and, therefore, a departure from the modernist playbook it takes notes from.

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