What Is a Mansion? The Luxury Home Next Door Might Not Qualify (2024)

What is a mansion? Do visions of stately residences with acres of lush landscaping, sweeping staircases, and grand ballrooms dance in your head? Perhaps you think of the most luxurious house in the neighborhood, complete with lavish amenities like a koi pond, wine cellar, and four-car garage. Or it could be a sprawling New York City apartment in a landmark pre-war building with Old French masters on the walls and miles of marble.

So what is a mansion anyway? Let’s explore the mansion definition, plus what qualifies a property as a mansion.

If your word definition is based strictly on size, you’ll find that there is no general consensus among experts. A good rule of thumb is at least 5,000 square feet.

Merriam-Webster‘s dictionary definition is less definitive, simply stating that a mansion is “a large and impressive house: the large house of a wealthy person.”

With so many diverse answers to the question out there, we decided to consult luxury real estate expert Jade Mills, a leading agent with Coldwell Banker Previews International, for the final word on “what is a mansion?”

No one knows mansions more than Mills. She has the distinction of having sold the Playboy mansion, complete with playboy in chief Hugh Hefner in residence, for $100 million and the Warner estate, which includes an eight-bedroom, 11-bathroom,12,254-square-foot manor house, listed for $40 million.

What defines a mansion, and what is considered a mansion?

As for the mansion definition, according to Mills, real estate agents don’t often use the word “mansion” in listings unless, of course, it’s a part of an iconic house’s title, like the various Wrigley Mansions or Gracie Mansion, the New York City mayor’s residence.

“‘Mansion’ is a very subjective word,” Mills says. “I grew up in a house in Northern California that was about 900 square feet. One year, when we were driving down to Southern California to go to Disneyland, some friends told us they were staying in a mansion on Sunset Boulevard, and that we could come visit them. When we got there, I thought it was a mansion and more. But looking back, it was only about 5,000 square feet, and wouldn’t be considered a mansion by today’s standards.”

Mills notes that in the red-hot Los Angeles luxury market, some buyers don’t think of a house of less than 20,000 square feet as a true mansion.

What makes a home a mansion? Luxe amenities are a must

Curious about what defines a mansion? Although size and the number of rooms play a part, other features define what a mansion is as well. Almost every resource agrees that in addition to a greater-than-average number of bedrooms, bathrooms, and square feet, a true mansion will have the following features:

  • Entertainment facilities: Mansions built in the 20th century weren’t complete without ballrooms, salons, billiard rooms, and lounges. Modern mansionmust-haves for entertaining guests includeelaborategame rooms, massive great rooms, specialty bars, and often a pool with a pool house or cabana. These houses also include one, two, or three kitchens to cater to guests.
  • Leisure space:A century ago, greenhouses, conservatories, or libraries were important for chill time. Today, large spa facilities, home theaters, gyms, and high-tech media rooms—maybe even a high-tech safe room—would be at the top of most mansion dwellers’ lists. And let’s not forget massive closets, some of which have becomemini man cavesfor the rich and well-dressed.
  • Lavish grounds:Formal or Zen gardens, sports facilities, water features, motor courts, extensive garages, fire pits, hiking trails, and guesthouses are common in lavish properties today.
  • Superlative building materials and finishes:We’re all too familiar withMcMansions—those huge but tacky homes that are often built hastily, with an eye to the bottom line. We can definitively say those are not mansions. Mansions must be made of materials that are a cut above: the finest woods and most luxurious stonework and fabrics, all customized, of course. Top-of the-line appliances are expected and, lately, sustainable materials, smart home features, and elaborate security systems make the list of desirable amenities in mansions.

Bottom line: There is neither a legal dictionary definition nor a checklist of characteristics that defines what is a mansion.

“It’s all about the homeowner’s perspective,” says Mills. So if you want to call your charming three-bedroom a mansion, go for it.

Amenitiesluxury homesMansionsplayboy mansionupdates

Lisa Johnson Mandell is an award-winning writer who covers lifestyle, entertainment, real estate, design, and travel. Find her on AtHomeInHollywood.com

What Is a Mansion? The Luxury Home Next Door Might Not Qualify (2024)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Nathanael Baumbach

Last Updated:

Views: 5523

Rating: 4.4 / 5 (75 voted)

Reviews: 82% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Nathanael Baumbach

Birthday: 1998-12-02

Address: Apt. 829 751 Glover View, West Orlando, IN 22436

Phone: +901025288581

Job: Internal IT Coordinator

Hobby: Gunsmithing, Motor sports, Flying, Skiing, Hooping, Lego building, Ice skating

Introduction: My name is Nathanael Baumbach, I am a fantastic, nice, victorious, brave, healthy, cute, glorious person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.