Sorry to burst your bubble, but there is no strict definition of a mansion. Merriam-Webster defines a mansion as “a large imposing residence.” Honestly, though, the idea of a mansion means different things to different people. A mansion in the downtown streets of Chicago or New York might be different than one in the foothills of the Rockies or the plains of Oklahoma.
Realtors, however, have their own definition, one that sets a minimum mansion size. Realtors claim that mansions are houses that have at least 7,000 square feet of floor space. To put this in perspective, the average square footage of houses in each state is between 1,600 and 2,000 sq ft. However, the average square footage of new homes built last year was over 2,700.
Realtors do not use the term mansion when marketing houses unless the term has significance to the residence. Famous examples might include the Vanderbilt Mansion or the Ringling mansion.
Besides the additional legroom, many people agree that mansions have other amenities. These include:
- The number and size of rooms often far exceeds the average home. Mansions might have two or even three full style kitchens. Each of the five or more bedrooms might come with its own bathroom and shower. Living areas are likely to be large and open with massive TVs and sitting areas to match the size and complexity of the house.
- Mansions are often accompanied by lavish landscaping. This can include beautiful shrubbery, plant life, or decorations. Some estates also have a luxurious pool and outdoor patio section. Of course, mansions in the city might be a bit more limited in their outdoor space, but they may have other indoor features or rooftop views.
- Most such estates have rooms dedicated solely to leisure activities. This might mean an impressive library, small fitness center, spas, multimedia rooms, or in-home office space. Some of the largest mansions have bowling alleys, indoor pools, basketball courts, and tennis courts.
- Mansions also need to entertain. Some homes have private dining or bar areas for guests to hang out when they are not out by the pool. Or, they may have game rooms or theaters for everyone to enjoy. Vast and expansive yards are also fantastic for a variety of outdoor activities. Mansions in smaller towns and the countryside may have hundreds or thousands of acres to accompany it. Here you might see horse stables, hiking paths, shooting ranges, or private lakes.
- Beautiful design is commonplace among mansions; they are both big and beautiful. Aside from the luxurious groundskeeping, they likely have vivid brick or stonework. They may have elaborate security, solar, or smart home features as well.
Perhaps you are unaware that there are different types of mansions. The main differences between the types mostly have to do with structure and design. There are undoubtedly various sized mansions, but they are all considered mansions just the same.
McMansions are generally the most common type of mansion people are aware of. These are the large, mass-produced mansions often found in the suburbs and newly developing areas. Most of these were built after the 1970s. And, what they gain in freshness, they lack in design and character.
The design of mass-produced homes is a secondary thought. Most of these mansions are just going for size. This does not mean they look bad, but there is a clear difference between McMansions and older Victorian or Classical style mansions.
This is partly because they typically lack an architect. McMansions use cheaper material and have unorthodox detailing plans. All the mansions look nice together, but they likely will not fit in with the older neighborhoods in town.
2. Classical Style mansions
Think Great Gatsby! These houses are grand with large hallways, beautiful and winding staircases, and towering ceilings. They may even have a ballroom or party room common during the roaring 20s. These mansions are carefully crafted by an architect who notices every detail - the landscaping, patio, windows, columns, roofing, interior design, and all else fits perfectly together.
3. Colonial Style mansions
Colonial style mansions are not as fashionable in the United States as they are in other parts of the world. These are more common in Latin America, part of South America, such as Brazil, and in some European countries, primarily Portugal or Spain. However, the United States still has its fair share of these homes as well.
Similar to the classical style mansions, the colonial-style architects pay every attention to detail. The interior is not as grand and illuminating as classical, but the design is elegant nonetheless. The design is often wide and expansive, making their appearance as a mansion known.
4. Victorian Style mansions
These are also elaborate and carefully detailed mansions in the style of Victorian Europe. Their unique style is known to feature jutting towers, large gathering halls, wrap-around decks, and colorful appeal. Given their style, these mansions also have an older feel to them as well with their aging gates and entrances, wooden appearance, and unique roofing design.
Although there is no set definition of a mansion, there is a broad consensus as to what one is. It simply means a large and grandiose house, somewhere around 8,000 square feet. Since the square footage of a home is likely unknown, there are other characterizing features that can help identify one. This may include any number of luxurious amenities such as an equally large pool, patio area, or entertainment features. Or the design of a Victorian or classical style house might be a giveaway as well.
What is considered a mansion varies from state to state and city to city, but in most places, any house over 7,000 square feet will be considered a mansion. Of course, if homes keep getting bigger and bigger, the size and price of mansions will increase as well. And you can always expect mansions to be in high demand. After all, for many people, there's an irresistible allure in owning a mansion. They're simply the ultimate status symbol.