Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Betsy DeVos' massive summer home gets an appropriately brutal architectural critique

Photo: Drew Angerer (Getty Images)

Betsy DeVos is very, very bad at her job as President Trump’s Secretary of Education, but that’s okay because she’s also very, very rich, with ties to totally on-the-up institutions like multilevel marketing cult Amway and Blackwater, a mercenary training camp. We learned a bit about her ten—yes, ten—yachts recently when one was hilariously set adrift on Lake Erie, and now we’re being treated to a look at her Michigan summer home.

Thankfully, that look is coming courtesy of Kate Wagner, a student of architecture who’s provided endless amounts of joy to us normies who don’t require our own castles by mocking the impractical abodes of the rich and famous on her popular McMansion Hell blog. In a guest column for Vox, Wagner shows us there’s plenty to hate on DeVos’ vast property.


DeVos’ residence is a sprawling, “shingle-style” house that, according to PriceyPads.com, packs 10 bathrooms, three kitchens, eight dishwashers, 13 porches, an elevator, and, for some reason, just three bedrooms. It also, according to Wagner, has 13 different window styles, three separate roof types, and a marked lack of consistency throughout.

In her words:

Even though Betsy is riffing on the shingle style, there is a difference between architectural complexity and a mess, just as there is a difference between a masterful use of vocabulary and replacing every word in a sentence with the longest synonym you can find in the thesaurus.

Betsy’s house looks like a compound of multiple unfinished parts, and nothing about its hulking facade really gels. This is partially because it has no fewer than 13 window styles — yes, I counted them — and because each of the wings of the house tries (perhaps intentionally) to be very visually different from the next.

For example, why is there a massive turret tacked on as if they couldn’t quite commit to a separate lighthouse? The house’s roofline somehow includes three separate roof types (clipped gable, dutch gable, and hipped)? Why are some columns stone and others wood? Why do none of the doors seem to be the front door? (Is there even a front door?) It’s a classic case of too many cooks in the kitchen, and none of those cooks are good at their job.

Over at Vox, you can see that cursed turret, as well as Wagner’s search for a front door, her musings on rich dogs, and the influence of Victoria’s Secret dressing rooms on the garish decor.

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About the author

Randall Colburn

Randall Colburn is The A.V. Club's Internet Culture Editor. He lives in Chicago, occasionally writes plays, and was a talking head in Best Worst Movie, the documentary about Troll 2.