Today the Architectural style Cape Cod is synonymous with waterfront property, breezy beaches and vacation getaways. Known for its distinctive exterior features and cozy interior spaces, the Cape Cod home has become an American classic.

History of the Cade Cod Home

The original idea behind the Cape Cod house was to give the early English settlers in New England a little fame on the other side of the pond. The design of the house was conceptually similar to an English cottage, except with certain modifications to fit the harsher northeast climate. These houses were built throughout the region in the 19th centurye century, then enjoyed enormous popularity in the early to mid-twentieth century, reflecting a renewed interest in colonial-era architecture and its affordability in a post-World War II economy.

Image Source: Getty Images – Credit: OlegAlbinsky

What is a Cape Cod home?

The Cape Cod style uses simple lines and shapes reminiscent of the English cottages they were inspired by. They are usually one or two storeys, square or rectangular in shape, with steeply pitched roofs, shingled exteriors, shutters and a central chimney. The steepness of the roofs is designed to reduce snow build-up, reducing the risk of a roof collapsing from too much weight. The distinctive low ceilings were intended to prevent heat from escaping, while the shutters acted as windblocks from the cold New England breeze.

There are multiple styles of homes in Cape Cod. The easiest way to tell the difference between styles is to count the number of windows on either side of the front door. If there are two windows on one side of the door, it is what is known as a ‘half cape’. A house with two windows on each side of the front door is known as a “full cape.” Regardless of which subcategory a particular Cape Cod home falls under, they all share a flat frontage, creating their square or rectangular shape. Over time, designers have updated Cape Cod’s design to meet the needs of modern life, but their unmistakable aesthetic remains timeless.

Visit our Architectural Styles Page to learn about the history behind certain styles of home design, from A-Frame to Victorian. For more information about designing, renovating and decorating a home, visit the Design page on our blog.

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