What Is A Cape Cod Home?

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cape cod home

You may have seen a lot mentioned about Cape Cod style, and architecture. But what actually is it?

Today we will learn what is a cape cod style home and a few prime examples of this classic design. Here at Tumbleweeds Architectural, we get a lot of these houses to renovate, restore and salvage and, naturally you pick up indications and slight differences in the characteristics of certain properties. We are here today to explore some of those differences and similarities.

cape cod home

What Is The History Of A Cape Cod Home?

The first instance of these homes is actually very early – built by the late 17th century Puritan colonists. 

As the name suggests; these houses are found on often open, windy beaches and bays. Cape Cod beaches are known to be battered by the elements, and thus, a strong, lasting design was needed to keep these homes firmly attached to dry land!

one half cape
one half cape

Cape Cod house characteristics are typically accurate. Most people cite this style of house as low, and single-story. Not very decorative on the outside.

 This second revival of home this style of home building gained popularity in the 1920-30s when there was a ‘Colonial Revival’.

The low to the ground, pitched roof design meant that it would be safe in storms. Predominantly timber framed; these homes were quick, relatively easy and cheap to make. 

Cape Cod Classic Style.

Cape Cod bungalow style quickly spread across the country, but the most textbook examples of these homes can still be seen to this day across the North-Eastern states and parts of Canada. 

Cape Cod house interiors are often cozy, and should make great use of space because they have to. They look best utilising grey and minimalist colour schemes, maybe highlighted with an accent colour here and there. 

The 3 types of Cape Cod style house 

Full Cape

The most expensive version – this style has 4 windows and a door at the front of the house. Often thought to be for the more successful settler as this home was most expensive to construct because of the windows and sizeable chimney. 

Three Quarter Cape

Recognised by three front facing windows and a chimney that does not align with the door. You will likely only find this style amongst the pre 19th century houses as it did not get copied much in the revival. 

One-Half Cape

Two windows in the front. The simplest of houses. These homes were so simple that if ever an addition was required (maybe a three quarter, or full cape) they were relatively easy to renovate and change. 

Cape Cod Farmhouses are other popular choices, they are generally significantly larger than regular homes, but still retain the characteristics of the style. They often boast a wrap around porch section, meaning the front of the house is undercover. This was not found in the first iteration of this style. It is likely a newer feature. Cropping up in the Colonial revival era of houses. I do see quite a large crossover in Cape Cod bungalow style and Colonial houses. 

Modern cape cod houses take what worked best from the past and build on it. They often utilise the attic space and have 2 stories, as opposed to just one. They do retain the quintessential points of Cape Cod Architecture however. The colouring being similarly white, creme and neutral base tones. Cape Cod houses are predominantly white, and cream in colouring, this set them apart from log cabins and more dull styles. Their pitched roof often the natural wood/slate colour. 

Thomas Atwood house
Thomas Atwood house

Atwood-Higgins House – Wellfleet, Massachusetts (1730)

This lovely little home is situated on the Cape Cod National Seashore of Massachusetts. It encompasses every characteristic about this style of home building and presents it in one great package. It is available to visit at certain times in the year. 

Hope you liked my article! I think this style of homes is great, and it’s crazy to think that if you needed a home back in the day…you’d just build one… A little different from nowadays. Check out my article on Second Empire homes here!

Let me know if you find any cool examples of Cape Cod homes on your travels!