Everything You Need To Know About Cape Cod Style Houses

It’s interesting to note how so many houses in the old black and white movies look the same. The rich and famous lived in sunny Mediterranean-style houses. The poor somehow made road living look charming. The middle class were the most charming of all, living out the plot in their Cape Cod style houses.

Cape Cod Style Houses

These houses gave the impression of idyllic living with their white picket fences and rose strewn flowerbeds. And they weren’t too far off. Cape Cod style homes have been around for a long time, morphing from simple and practical to charming to sleek and modern. If you want your life to feel like an old movie, here’s everything you need to know about Cape Cod style houses so you can begin your search for one.

History of the Cape Cod Style Houses

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The Cape Cod architecture style was brought to America from England by Puritan carpenters. The harsh climates to contend with, it was imperative that building choices were easy and durable. Homes were built with the available wood in the area, usually oak or pine, and covered in cedar shingles or clapboard. The basic square shape usually held one story and maybe a couple bedrooms hidden under the eaves. Low ceilings and a large central chimney indoors provided the warmth that the residents needed during harsh winters and shutters were added to protect windows from the elements. So where did the name “Cape Cod” come from? We can thank Reverend Timothy Dwight IV for that, coining the phrase during a his visit to the Cape in 1800.

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Over the years, we see that Cape Cod homes have morphed from very plain square structures to larger abodes. It was common to add wings to the basic square frame, either on the sides or the back, to accommodate space for modern amenities like garages and large dining areas. If a Cape had an attic bedroom, dormers might be added to provide more space and light to the second story. You might even find a porch on the front or back of a modern Cape Cod. All additions increased the living space of the home but by no means took away it’s charm.

Exterior of the Cape Cod Style Houses

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When a home is small like some of the historic Capes, you need to think hard about the exterior design since there isn’t much space to work with. Natural shingles can give your home a whiff of yesteryear and provide an eye catching pattern amidst rows of cliche siding on your street.

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In the past, Capes were all about symmetry. So it’s easier to keep this in mind as you update or build your Cape Cod style home because of the examples available. Since dormers are a more modern thing, you’ll probably be adding two or three, depending on the size of your house.

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You might have noticed already that almost all Cape Cod homes have shutters. The originals could open and close them, depending on the weather. Tip your hat to the asset and install working shutters on your Cape, whether you actually need them or not.

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Of course most of our shutters today are purely decorative and there is nothing wrong with that. If that’s where you’re leaning for your Cape Cod home, you might as well make those shutters bright and happy. They’ll make your house stand out for sure.

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So many Capes have beautiful gardens with minimal lawn. Draw on the area you live in and make your front yard a field of wildflowers. Not only will it thrive but your yard will be a safe haven for the bees and butterflies in the area.

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If you prefer the more restrained and classic front yard, you’ll want to consider roses. While that might seem intimidating, with a little effort to educate yourself on care, you’ll have a beautiful blooming front lawn worthy of any feature film.

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There is nothing like a Cape Cod home with a white picket fence. They seem to be a match made in heaven. Whether you live in the country or in town, a picket fence will give you a nice border to edge your landscaping and guests will know exactly what kind of charm they’re in for.

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Some Capes have a front porch, giving the whole house more of a farmhouse feeling. Embrace that space and make it a part of your living area. Hang a swing, place some rockers, go all out for Halloween. We’re not sure who will enjoy it more, you or your house.

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Maybe you’re looking for a way to bring a little modern style to your old Cape Cod house. You can never go wrong with black. Just a little black on the front door, shutters and any trim around the house will give the whole facade a brand new look.

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Who would say no to a vacation in a Cape Cod house? If you want your Cape to feel like a vacation retreat, you’re going to have to partner with the neighbors. With similar siding and some climbing roses, your street will look like a vacation community, with our without the beach.

Interior

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If you thought we were going to leave the wood to the outside of the Cape Cod house, think again. Wood was traditionally used for the flooring indoors as well. Since wood floors are currently on trend, that shouldn’t upset you much though.

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Pastel color palettes were another common find inside a Cape Cod home. With low ceilings and small rooms to contend with, you really wouldn’t want something dark and heavy anyway. Embrace those sage greens, sky blues and butter yellows for a charming historically true home.

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So pastels make you think of your Grandmother’s house that hasn’t been updated in several decades. Opt for a white palette that will capture all the natural light to be had and bounce it around the house to make even the smallest Cape Cod look bright and airy.

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When the outside of your home is basically shiplap, why not continue the trend on the inside as well? Especially if your Cape Cod is next to a body of water, that simple linear design will give you the perfect fresh clean seaside feel.

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With such a plain exterior, it makes sense that even historical homes would spruce up the inside. You’ll often find beadboard or board and batten somewhere in an old Cape Cod. It’s an easy way to make a big impact with very little time and money.

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Craftsman homes aren’t the only ones that feature built ins! With such a small space to work with, it’s imperative to use every nook and cranny for a practical purpose. Built in bookshelves and china cabinets achieve the goal and provide some really serious charm to your space.

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While you’re still thinking about beadboard, you’ll want to consider where you can add it into the kitchen when you’re trying to create a Cape Cod classic. Cabinet fronts, cabinet backs, even the ceiling, that creamy texture will only add to the whole look.

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Obviously your kitchen doesn’t have to be traditional just because you live in a Cape Cod house. A sleek and modern kitchen will be a nice surprise when the outside of your home seems so charming and quaint.{found on AD}.

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Open living plans are a thing of recent times but using the style in a small home, like a Cape, can really give your space the facelift it needs. Go all Joanna Gaines and see how many walls you can tear down before you have to quit. Your house will breathe again and thank you for it.

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Looking for a quick fix to bring your Cape Cod up to date? Look overhead. Change the builder grade lighting for something new and exciting. A good piece of statement lighting will give you new eyes to see your space and what changes can be made on a dime.

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When there is a second story on a Cape Cod home, it’s more like an attic room than a full story with all kinds of nooks and crannies stuffed tight under the eaves. Building your own beds, shelving and other storage can help you use the space to it’s fullest.

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Many of the newer Capes have a dormer or two to add to height and light of the second story’s floor plan. If that looks like your bedroom, use that dormer to create the coziest nook with a desk or chair. It will be a favorite place to work and read and spend all your time after that.

Two Beautiful Cape Cod Style Houses

This charming picture-perfect style has been kept alive and is still the inspiration behind many houses being built today. The aesthetic has changed a bit over time so you can expect some of today’s Cape Cod home to have a more modern look and feel and a more imposing overall appearance. Here’s a couple of examples.

Three-story Cape Cod-inspired home in California

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The inspiration for this beach house was the classic Cape Cod-style home but a contemporary spin was added to its design. Studios Brandon Architects and Spinnaker Development worked together to give this house from Newport Beach a lot of flair but at the same time to keep it simple, elegant and to make it feel like a home. It’s a home that promotes outdoor living and given its proximity to the beach it was important to take advantage of the views.

Inside there’s a big open kitchen, a living area and double doors leading out to a small porch. Upstairs the master bedroom has a beautiful screened balcony and big doors and windows that bring the outdoors in and create a breezy ambiance suitable for a beach house. The use of natural wood adds a really nice and warm touch to the décor and the white walls and ceilings help the rooms seem bigger and brighter.

A renovated Cape Cod-style home in Canada

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Once again, the views are amazing here. This house is located in Vancouver, Canada and is a waterfront home with beautiful trees and vegetation all around it. It was the perfect spot for creating an inviting family home and this style really suits the place. When asked to renovate it, studio Jodi Foster Design + Planning made sure to take advantage of the views and to find new ways to emphasize the relationship between the indoor spaces and the surroundings.

All of the interior spaces have access outside. They connect to a series of wraparound terraces on both the ground floor and the upper level which make it easy and convenient to enjoy the lovely vistas and the fresh air at any time. The exterior of the house retained its classic Cape Cod-style flair with the white frames and trims around the doors, windows and everything else. The interior was updated and simplified with a more modern aesthetic, relying heavily on light and neutral colors and natural materials.