Cornice mounts refer to the decorative carved brackets most commonly seen on the exterior of Italianate-style Victorian residences. These mounts can also be common on Victorians with exterior gingerbread trim and styles like Queen Anne, Stick and Gothic Revival. Craftsman-style homes frequently feature cornice mounts under overhanging eaves, even though they’re not as decorative. Bracket styles vary in thickness and decorative ornamentation.
Origins and Materials
A cornice bracket is fundamentally the same as a corbel, which has been used for centuries to help support extruding surfaces. Originally made from concrete or stone, the primary function of these conventional architectural components was weight assistance. During the Renaissance period in Italy, buildings were created with balconies supported by outsized stone corbels. The debut of wooden corbels during the Victorian era shifted the primary focus from supportive function to decorative ornamentation. Nowhere is this more evident than the repeating brackets along the cornices and eaves of Italianate residences. Along with wood, cornice mounts can be made from steel, resin, plaster and fiberglass.
Cornice mounts are found in a vast range of styles, from easy half-circle arcs to visually carved basket-weave layouts. Vintage Greco-Roman layouts include carved acanthus leaves and grapes, while Mission-style mounts contain tidy, geometric lines. Brackets can be cut from a single plank of wood or be constructed out of as many as three layers of wood, with two thinner carved bits on the exterior and a sound, thicker piece in the center. On Victorian residences, these layered mounts are usually painted in contrasting colors.
Typical spacing for replicating exterior mounts is 12 to 18 inches apart. Another choice is to set the mounts, leaving 2 to 4 inches between each bracket in the set and bend each set several feet apart. Brackets are generally installed from the frieze area under roof eaves, porch eaves and in the corners of porch articles. Corner article mounts are often highly ornamental. Repeating mounts, typically 1 1/2 inches thick, provide a three-dimensional appearance. A visually pleasing pattern emerges in the installation of several mounts round the perimeter of a house.
Cornice mounts can be used inside the house as an added decorative detail to classic molding. Brackets add elegance and style in kitchens when employed under wall cupboards, cabinets and kitchen island countertops or bars; mounts add character in entryways and beneath soffits. Use them under your fireplace mantel, on the fireplace surround and on stair risers. Thick brackets can even be used as small, decorative shelves to showcase a small trinket or figurine. Stain or paint the mounts to complement your interior trim or attempt an alternative material like metal or wax.