Italianate houses are usually two to three stories high, square or rectangular in plan, with low-pitched hip, gable, or shed (roof with one slope) roofs. They may be brick with pressed metal, stone, or wood ornamentation, or wood with wood ornamentation. The distinctive feature of nearly all Italianate houses is a cornice supported by brackets ("bracketed cornice") and decorative, projecting window "heads" (above openings). Ornamentation of more elaborate brick houses, which are sometimes faced in smooth stone, may also include quoins and window decoration that vary from floor to floor. A recessed doorway is common. Italianate houses are vertical in emphasis due to their tall windows and vertical proportions.


The Italianate Style evolved from the earlier Italian Villa Style. A popular house style, Italianate was also favored for commercial buildings in the late 19th century.


The style is common in Cincinnati, which has one of the best collections of Italianate buildings in the United States in the Over-the-Rhine area. Italianate is also the dominant style in the Prospect Hill area of Mt. Auburn and in the West End, where excellent high-style houses line Dayton Street. Another version of the style is the one-story "shotgun" house (one room wide with other rooms lined up behind it, creating a straight "shot" from the front to the rear of the house). These can be found in Corryville, Mount Adams and South Fairmont, as well as in other parts of the city.