Good Bones: Tuscan

As an architect, I love looking at different housing styles and analyzing what makes them unique. Every few weeks, I’ll pop in to the ProTalk blog with a post about a different style and share the details that make it distinctive.

Tuscan – No rules, just fun

The Tuscan style, with its casual, no rules expression, has become crazy popular. And why not? Doesn’t that capture the demeanor of today’s buyer? What makes this style so much fun is its rustic and often haphazard aesthetic. No symmetry in this style!

The random nature comes to the style organically. Imagine a small farm house in Tuscany built from indigenous materials, like stone pulled out of the fields to make way for grapes and olives to flourish. Over time, the original family outgrows the house and adds a lean-to shed on one side. The next family is even bigger and adds another addition, not caring to “mask” that it is an addition. So what originally started as a simple form now has a bunch of tacked on pieces. This is how the Tuscan style became what it is today: a unique design with no clear blueprint that relies on its traditional natural materials to convey its distinct style.


The materials used are what make the style so lush: warm, rustic materials like stone (lots of stone), stucco and rough timbers. I stayed in a Tuscan villa once and was delighted to see a large, twisted, unhewn timber used as a door header. The next villa over had used brick arches to create its door headers. I loved the diversity!

Advancements in cultured stone and brick have made this style more attainable and thus more abundant. Since the stone covers large areas in this style, pick a larger profile stone like cut cobblestone or Tuscan fieldstone. Select a blend with warmer colors and build your color palette around them. ProTalk #ProTip: Make sure to use the stone vertically around the front door.

Stone tower entries are common (see picture) and remind me of the towers of San Gimignano. If you don’t like the look of all stone, I like stucco as a neutral backdrop for the main house, letting stone standout on the columns instead.

Contrast the stone with headers made from cultured brick. Don’t be afraid to use a terracotta colored brick to accentuate the difference in material. Alternately, you can create a heavy timber look for headers from cellular PVC trim with a deep wood grain finish. Add a plank or a board and batten shutter to complete the rustic look. I like Ply Gem’s Spanish Moss or Terra Brown for the shutter color. My favorite finishing touch is to use a single shutter to one side of the window. Make sure the shutter is the same width as the window, but be prepared for the “symmetry” lovers to ask what happened to the other shutter.

Windows and Doors

Speaking of windows, I like a four-pane over one-pane style. Don’t be afraid to go with darker exterior colors like bronze to compliment the warm, rustic style. As for doors, pick a rustic style. It can either be painted to match the shutters or a wood tone. Garage doors must be carriage style and I find the wood tones work great here too.

Roof Lines

Let’s not forget to talk about the roof. A lower pitch roof works with this style; if the budget allows, concrete flat or Spanish S tile work great. Try picking a terracotta color similar to the brick headers. Fiberglass shingles work great as well. Remember – this is the “no rules” style so have fun with your selection.

The Tuscan style is perfect for someone who wants something different, but still with a timeless appeal. Are you a baby boomer who refuses to age and who’s looking for a style to match your active, casual lifestyle? Or maybe a millennial looking for something classic, but rebellious and unique? Either way, have fun with the aesthetic!

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