Along with our love of oversized cars and second helpings, Americans like building big—very big—houses in pristine locales. In the New Yorker, Susan Orlean riffs on a vacation home she stayed in on a South Carolina beach: “Every room is about twice the size it needs to be, and every ceiling is triple-height. It’s a very ugly house, but fancy. And very, very big.” It's still in a beautiful spot, though, and Orlean tried to reserve it again—only to learn it was being torn down and replaced with an even bigger house.
Orlean herself is a fan of the small-home movement, but she doesn't seem to have much hope that the "particularly American fixation" with jumbo homes will fade. "What’s funny is that these mega-mansions are so often located somewhere people go because they want to enjoy the natural environment,” she writes. And what became of the new, upgraded vacation behemoth? "The outdoor space is a narrow margin of sand and grass, not even wide enough to walk on." (Read more luxury homes stories.)