Once upon a time, a mansion was understood to be a dwelling that sported specific features such as a certain number of bedrooms, common rooms, and even a considerable amount of land surrounding the structures. Over time, the definition of a mansion has become somewhat blurred. If you are curious about what defines this type of dwelling today, it is important to realize that square footage, layout, and even the architectural design do have some bearing on the matter.
One of the enduring aspects of the mansion is the designation of rooms for purposes not found in other dwellings. For example, a mansion is more likely to have space set aside for a home theater or maybe a formal ballroom. Perhaps the home is equipped with space for a conservatory or even a greenhouse. Even something like a private bowling area would tend to qualify the home for this type of designation.
In terms of living space, a mansion is likely to have a formal room for receiving guests, plus living space that is intended for family use only. Many mansions will also include multiple bedrooms and bathrooms, usually with one or more floors devoted completely to these types of accommodations. In addition, the mansion will likely include living quarters for at least a small domestic staff. These quarters may be found in one wing of the home, or be provided in a separate structure that is located very near the main house.
As in the past, mansions are typically viewed as being an indication that the owner possesses a great deal of wealth. Over the years, some owners have opened their mansions to paying guests, retaining some spaces within the dwelling for their private use, but serving meals in the dining room and renting out bedrooms for people who would like to stay in such grand surroundings for a day or two.