The exterior of an Italianate is something to behold. In reaction to the more austere confines of the earlier Gothic houses, the Italianate style goes out of its way to be ornate—bordering on ostentatious. Gerald Foster, an architect and an author, once said of the Italianate, “Basically, it is a simple box with a lot of ornamentation.” While this is true, there is much to appreciate in that ornamentation.
The Italianate style residence is easily recognizable, once you know what the common features are. Verticality is emphasized; Italianates are two or three stories with each story having a ceiling height of at least ten feet. Plans are usually rectangular, T-shaped, or L-shaped. The hipped roof is low-pitched (between 6/12 and 8/12), almost flat. Distinctive of this style is the decorative cornice with intricate brackets beneath a wide overhang. A cupola often sits on top of the house, though there are plenty examples of Italianates without this trademark as well.