Italianate Architectural Characteristics

Updated April 17, 2017

The Italianate style of architecture was initially developed by English architect John Nash in the early 1800s. Nash transformed many building and squares in London to the Italianate style including the Carlton House Terrace, the Cumberland Terrace, The Royal Mews, Haymarket Theatre, Trafalgar Square and the west wing of Buckingham Palace. The Italianate style is characterised by roofs with wide, overhanging eaves, decorative porches, arched windows and heavy moulding. Some houses even have square cupolas or towers.

Italianate in Wales

Located approximately two hours southwest of Liverpool, Portmeirion is a picturesque Italianate style village in Wales. The village was designed and built by environmentalist and architect Clough Williams-Ellis. It took him 50 years to complete the village. The cottages and castle of Portmeirion include many of the traditional Italianate characteristics including ornate porches, cupolas, towers and decorative brackets that are positioned underneath low-pitched roofs.

Italianate in America

The Italianate style in the United States was primarily promoted by New York City born architect Alexander Jackson Davis. Davis' style was also influenced by the Greek Revival and Neoclassical styles. Although less decorative than the British Italianate, the American Italianate houses were rectangular in shape and generally two stories. They included decorative moulding, tall windows and low, pitched roofs with wide, overhanging eaves.

Italianate in Australia

Italianate reached its popularity in Melbourne, Australia in the mid-1800s. The Italianate style was combined with the Victorian style to create striking buildings. In addition to the flat roofs and balustrades common to the style, many of the buildings also included stucco siding and wrought iron railings.

Middle East Italianate

Although the Middle East is most known for its Islamic archeological sites, Lebanon and Libya both have buildings that were constructed in the Italianate style. Visit the Beiteddine or House of Faith in Lebanon. The palace and surrounding gardens include many porticos, ornate facades and wrought iron railings. Likewise, the colonial Building in Green Square in Tripoli reflects the Italian occupation of Libya. Although simpler and less decorative, the facade of the Colonial Building is white stucco and the building includes many arches, a tower and wrought iron embellishments.

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About the Author

Carrie Tuttle’s writing career started in 2000. Her articles have been picked up by AP News and have appeared in the "New York Real Estate Journal." She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish from Middlebury College and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Maryland’s Smith School of Business. She is pursuing a graduate-level certificate in accounting from Saint Leo University.