Unlike the derivative Italianate style of the 19th century, the Italian Renaissance style of the 20th was much truer to the Italian villas seen by American tourists and in photographic sources that became increasingly available after WWI.
Most Italian Renaissance homes have strong classical elements seen in columns, molded cornices, arched entries, and many fine details. The houses are most often symmetrical with low-pitched, hipped tile roofs. The relatively broad boxed-in eaves are accented by brackets. Projecting side wings are often seen on symmetrical houses. Even in the less common asymmetrical designs where entries are off center, carefully balanced features like arches, windows, and projecting wings still ground the buildings in a harmonious manner.
Elegant front entrances with recessed porches supported by classical columns are balanced by the symmetrical arrangement of tall windows topped by arches, pediments, or other detail on either side of the entry. Second story windows are typically much simpler.
The buildings are most often stone-faced or stucco, even on the simpler versions. Except for the roof, ubiquitous stone or stucco cladding, and eave brackets, it would be possible to confuse the Italian Renaissance style with many of the Colonial Revival homes of the same period. The home shown on this page, designed by John Virginius Bennes is considered by some authorities to be a brilliant example of Prairie style, though its fusion of Mediterranean elements with the horizontal character of the Prairie School makes it a beautiful building regardless of how it is categorized.
The following characteristics are often found in some combination on most Italian Renaissance style homes: