Italianate House Plan, Singer-Sargent



The Roman ruins of the Italian countryside, its medieval defensive towers and homey vineyards are remembered in the American Italianate, a less formal, less stately Italianate than is the English, though no less beautiful and proud.  You might say, “the Italianate is a literary invention”, a creation of Romantic writers and artists–which it is–a picture of an imagined Arcadia, Italian in accent, “picturesque”, as common writers call it.  The Italianate style is recognized by its wide eaves, its numerous brackets, its towers, its solidity; it is a style sometimes called the “Bracketed style” or the “Tuscan style”, though these days, “Tuscan style” implies a hodge-podge informality of contractor build Mc-minis.

The Italianate style continues to be popular among buyers, though not popular with builders and contractors, because the style has not an advocate.  Its period of popularity in these united states extended from the early 1840s, when first pictured in builder pattern-books, through The War to End Slavery (the civil war between the states, 1861-1865), until the early 1890s when Classive architects imagined an America great and grand (reference the World’s Columbian Exposition, 1893), an America of heroes, world leaders who abandoned the Cincinnatus farm to assume the mission of world supremacy, Aurelius-like.  The Italianate style is polite, formal in its informality, assuming the stewardship of beauty; it is a style of family, neighborliness, and responsibility.

For variations of the style, visit The Italianate House.



The Roman ruins of Umbria, Tuscany, et alibi, domesticated from the middle Christian Age through the Classive Renaissance into the Enlightenment, as imagined by English-speaking architects influenced by Palladio and Piranesi.
Cronkhill, Shropshire, 1802, John Nash, the first Italianate villa.
Osborne House, Victoria and Albert’s Royal Residence, East Cowes, Isle of Wight, designed by Prince Albert (with assistance of Thomas Cubitt), 1845-1851.
The Architecture of Country Houses, Andrew Jackson Downing, 1850
For variations of the style, visit The Italianate House.


Italianate House Plan

21a Italianate House Plan, Singer-Sargent, Footprint and Elevation. M. Curtis, des.


Italianate Characteristics

Symmetrical, though not always bi-laterally symmetrical.  Cubic, even when “L” shaped.

Roof Features
Low pitched roofs project in wide eves bracketed in support with corbels.  A roof might be hipped, or gabled, or towered, or flat, yet always there are brackets supporting deep eaves, and sometimes there is a cupola or proper lantern.  Chimneys are tall and massive, symmetrically placed.

Most often grouped in twos, most often arched, segmented or perfect.  The panes might be divided in half or in four, the cross being the most common shape.  Sometimes, windows are three grouped, especially in tower and cupola.  Windows and doors sport a cornice that is sometimes simple as soldiered bricks, sometimes extravagant, stylistic in abstract floral.

Structure and Materials
Stone, brick, stucco, or wood, yet always solid and heavy.  Iron rails might be light on balconies, heavy when a rail approach.

Space and Floor Plan
Logical and rectangular alike the plan of rooms in the Greek Revival.  If “L” shaped, a porch might extend the long length, often along two floors.  You will notice a verticality, not only in the common tower and cupola, but also in a kind of aspiration to something higher.

If the house is foursquare, the door is smartly centered; if “L” shaped, the door centers the tower; or if in a house of towered bays, the door will stand next the bays, allowing the bays to do the work of light and pleasure.  Always, the door is heavy paneled, reflective of the fenestration; the door might be a straight lintel or an arch, in both a transom, sometimes of etched glass, allows light into the foyer or stair-hall.

A wealth of manufactured ornamentation is every apparent, sometimes to excess; best examples restrain with measure and decorate with unassuming taste.

If masonry, the material is unpainted, though brick and wood examples (especially when several houses are in a row linked) are painted in tans and browns and grays with contrasting trim, as A.J. Downing recommended.  Most often, the Painted Lady Italianate is the work of a sentimental, enthusiastic impulse.

Porches invited congress with neighbors, and long porches create opportunities for informal family gathering, and porches, whether long or wrap-around, or extending, marry nature to the civil in all that marriage implies in health and in partnership.

The practical Octagon House: A Home for All, 1853, by Orson Squire Fowler, created a fad which here-and-there persists to this day (because useful and commonsensical), especially in naturally picturesque locations, mountainsides, et alibi.  And too, must mention Olana, the home of the painter Frederick Church, a house as-unique-as Monticello, and as beautiful, yet so very individual that it has neither precedent nor progeny, and yet there is in it something of the Italianesque spirit, via Al-Andalus.


Italianate House Plan 20B

21b Italianate House Plan, Singer-Sargent, Footprint and Elevation, First Floor. M. Curtis, des.

Italianate House Plan Features

This suite of towered houses is designed for the painter, the poet, the aesthete.  Here life and work are one with entertaining and study and rest.  Yes, there is hierarchy, the large gives way to the small, the intimate to the public.  Each house is a Great Hall with Tower.  Each has a glass wall floor to high ceiling (20’ to 24’), ideal for the artist … a window sized to nature, framing grass, tree, cloud, sky and heaven.  Each house will like to be set apart from other houses, each being as it is manor-born of the agrarian tradition, English of the estate, Italian of the vineyard, American of the farm.  And then, each house is solid, firmly set into the earth from which it rises to loftier places where a person might take the long view of the ground, of history and of higher things.

Each home is a stage set, inside and out.  Each room has its view and vista, its tableau or balcony, ideal for music and theatrics, and film.  Each room is formed to it purpose, designed to bear weight or to lightly lift itself into the clouds.  Where one house is Roman, another is Italian, and another is Italianate, yet all in the family.  Each house has options for stair and elevator, kitchen and bath (only a few options can be shown here).  Each house is designed to be solid, and to appear so, to be colorful and bold, to hold tints of glass for the dramatic effect, to be heroic scaled so that the person within is enlarged, filled with the confidence of potentialities.

These houses might be one bedroom, two, three or five, depending.  These are not large houses.  The smallest is merely 855 affordable square feet.  The largest is 2,800 standard square feet.  (Yes, each has an option for a below-grade floor, which if on a sloping rise will invite a walkout terrace with balcony above.)  And these are houses for the middle class, for the expanding family, the newlywed, the artist-intellectual in retreat.  Each to his, to her, to their desire.  If you should choose this house, know that price per foot is higher because walls are thicker, ceilings are loftier, materials are more dear, and details more ornate.


Italianate House Plan, M. Curtis, des.

21c Italianate House Plan, Singer-Sargent, Footprint and First Floor Elevation. M. Curtis, des.

Italianate House Plan, Singer-Sargent, #21A

31’-0”                       Height
42’-6”                       Width
17-6”                        Depth
619                           Main Floor
236                           Second Floor
855                           Square Footage
8’-0”                         First Floor Ceiling
17′-0″                        Great Room Ceiling
2                                Levels
1                                Bedrooms
1 1/2                         Bathrooms

Room Size, Primary Plan
Great Room                  16’-0” x 24’-0”
Kitchen                          12′-9″ x 16’-0”
Water-closet                 3′-0″ x 9′-3″
Bedroom                        16’-0” x 12′-9″
Bath                                10′-8″ x 3′-0”

Singer-Sargent, 20B
stair and elevator & stair variations
not shown, two bedrooms and library
if on a slope, a fifth, walk-out floor
2,300 gsf     

Singer-Sargent, 20C
stair and elevator & stair variations
not shown, three bedrooms and library
if on a slope, a fifth, walk-out floor
2,800 gsf

Special Features (various)
home studio
vaulted ceilings
kitchen island
walk-in closets
covered porch
upstairs bedrooms/bath


Italinate House Plan

21b Italianate House Plan, Elevation.  These houses are named in honor of the great American artist, John Singer-Sargent). M. Curtis, des.


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