Gambrel roofs are most often found on barns but this architectural feature is also found on Dutch Colonial homes. Instead of straight sloping sides, each side forms a symmetrical peak, giving the roof line an arched look. They are popular with builders because they add extra storage space below that roof line. Originally, gambrel roofs were made primarily of precisely angled wooden frames. Steel truss plates are also used, particularly when building sheds, because they free up more storage space.
Popular barn truss plans run from 36-foot to 16-foot wide, with the gambrels scaled to size. By increasing or decreasing the measurements but still keeping things in proportion, the gambrel roof can be made to fit almost any barn size. The gambrel also makes it easier to install an "in barn" office or bunkhouse because that extra bend in the roof provides more head space.
The gambrel roof on the Dutch Colonial homes does create some interesting roof lines and, if done right, a pleasing curb appeal. Some of the most popular designs use multiple gambrel facades, often graced with windows, shutters and other trims. Also popular, particularly on sizable estates, is to use the gambrel design in a separate garage structure.