Think Before You Tear Down That House

Before you call the wrecking ball…

You should go watch (re-watch) Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

Remember Cameron’s parents’ house? Ferris tells us,

“This place is like a museum. It’s very beautiful and very cold, and you’re not allowed to touch anything.”1

Or remember this?

“Ferris, my father loves this car more than life itself.” (Cameron)

A man with priorities so far out of whack doesn’t deserve such a fine automobile.” (Ferris) 1

Wise kid, huh ?

The thing is, we all get our priorities out of whack once in a while, right?

When it happens, we need somebody to tell us!

That way, we can screw our heads on straight.

Now, remember Betty White ?

She was a sensible, successful showbiz lady who seemed to have her head in the right place.

Like many celebs, she had multiple homes with amazing features, including:

  • lovely gardens
  • guest houses
  • pools
  • views
  • beach frontage
  • plenty of space

But her homes felt like homes rather than museums.

They were comfortably curated.

Look at her old Brentwood home, here. Seriously.

What do you think? Did it look like a decrepit old teardown?

Because it got the wrecking ball, as you can see here.

Whoever bought Betty White’s house…Well, their priorities are probably out of whack.

They paid 10.678 million dollars to tear down a charming 3,000+ square-foot home, complete with a guest cottage, pool, and gorgeous mature landscaping.

Somebody could have done amazing creative design work on that place. What a shame.

But you know what they say; money kills creativity.

Betty’s house wasn’t the first to go.

I know homes are getting razed, here, there, and everywhere.

As if that weren’t sad and wasteful enough, the replacements are usually big, boring boxes built with the cheapest materials.

There’s a great article in The New York Times by Emily Badger. In it, she explains the economics behind replacing starter homes with big expensive “McMansions”.  

But Betty White’s house wasn’t a starter home.

It was already lavish- just not lavish enough.

I love remodels, architecture, and design and I appreciate “good taste”.

I get it (you rich, lucky, homeowners, you).

It’s your house, do what you want.

But mansions are impractical, cold, and lonely.

And museum-mansions are impeccably curated, impractical, cold, and lonely.

What are you going to do in your bigger, fancier box anyway?

Are you sure that’s what you really want?

Will it make you deliriously happy?

Will it support you on those days when you feel like you’re going to die?

Or will all that square footage make you feel more alone?

Will you feel like Cameron? Will your kids (if you have them)?


“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”1

Check your priorities. Is your head on straight?


Because if you’re calling in the wrecking ball, I sure do hope it makes you happy.

Thanks for reading,

HouseRat Zero

P.S. If you haven’t seen Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, I’m envious and you should go watch it immediately.


  1. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Director John Hughes et al. Produced by John Hughes and Don Jacobson. Paramount Pictures. 1986.

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