This style is commonly differentiated by Palladian windows and other embellishments such as a semicircular fanlight over the front door, circular or elliptical accent window, decorative swags, garlands, and moldings.

line drawing of dentil molding in cornice

Dentil molding in the cornice is a common distinguishing feature of Federal/Adam houses.


Federal/Adam houses frequently feature clapboard as the predominant exterior cladding (with a choice of 3” to 8” reveals).


Historically, a light to medium palette was common in all colors except reds, greens, and browns. Modern interpretations incorporate a much broader variety of colors, including deeper hues. Vinyl and polypropylene siding come in hundreds of colors certified to withstand fading.

Trim and Accessories

Options suited for the Federal/Adam style include a heavy cornice with crown, medallions, or dentil molding on fascia or friezes; decorative front door surrounds with elliptical or half-round fanlight transoms and head trim, or triangular or broken pediments and pilasters; window crowns with keystone trim or pediments and lineals; band boards at the foundation; beaded soffit; roof balustrade; and shutters.