How to Update Your Cape Cod Style House

cape cod style house renoviation

How to Update Your Cape Cod Style House

The Cape Cod-style house dates back to 1675 and is very popular throughout New England. Although the first Cape Cod homes were developed in the 1600s, they did not become popular until the 1930s. In fact, many of the Cape Cod homes around today were built after World War II because returning veterans needed inexpensive housing.

Particularly in New England, our neighborhoods are filled with Cape Cod-style homes.

“The quintessential character of the Cape Cod house is the natural weathered gray cedar shingles. These elements work best near the salt air, where the cedar shingles oxidize to a silver gray, sealing them from the elements for three decades.”

Capes were inspired by simple, thatched cottages found in Britain and built throughout New England to protect early settlers from harsh winter weather. Generally, these homes are only 1 to 1 ½ stories and are fairly small. As a result, it is no wonder that many homeowners want to renovate their Cape Cod-style house. Fortunately, Cape Cod’s provide great foundations to build additions off the side or back of the home.

Standard Features of a Cape Cod Style House

At the heart of typical Cape Cod house is a chimney. Why? The chimney provided heat throughout the home. Generally, the house has a steep roof to help shed rain and snow as well. Plus, cedar shingles are used to help cut the cold weather from entering the home. Originally, Cape Cod homes were designed for function over style.

Now, many Cape Cod-style homes leverage the traditional features and incorporate modern design elements to fit the changing tastes of homeowners. For example, here are some standard Cape features.

  • Large, central chimney located directly behind the front door, with the rooms clustered around it in a rectangular shape.
  • A steep roof that quickly sheds rain and snow, along with a shallow roof overhang.
  • A full Cape has two windows on each side of the door. Frequently, these homes have a dormer on each side of the chimney to open up the attic as well.
  • Weathered gray shingles are one of the most recognizable elements of a classic Cape Cod.

Renovate Your Cape Cod Style House

Although the original Cape Cod-style homes were smaller in size, the foundations were made for additional space.

“If a historic Cape Cod is well preserved and properly restored, a new owner can easily adapt the space to modern life.”

For example, the foundations are great for a side addition or extension off the back of the home. Plus, many of the original Cape Cod-style houses did not have to finish the upstairs. As a result, these homes are great for home renovations!

Cape Cod Charm

cape cod style house renovation adds charm

Cape Cod-style homes offer an incredible amount of charm. In this traditional Cape renovation, the homeowners wanted to increase the interior space of the house to accommodate a growing family. Like many pre-war Cape Cod-style houses, this home in Noroton Bay, fit nicely into the neighborhood and the renovation required architectural design work to maintain that feel.

As a result, the renovation included additional dormers and an updated wood roof that are staples of Cape Cod home design. To achieve the homeowner’s request for more space, an extension was added off the back of the home. We feel this renovation offers a seamless transformation into the lovely backyard and welcomes outdoor living or entertaining. This is a great example of a beautifully conceived, modest, yet updated Cape-Cod home.

Modern Exterior Feel

cape cod style house improves exterior feel

The gift and curse of renovating a Cape Cod-style house is the pre-war build. In this example, the home is in a flood zone. As a result, the architectural design required lifting the home over three inches. As seen in the before picture, the home was a standard-issue Cape Cod house. The unattractive shed roof that expanded into the second floor.

The homeowners wanted to enhance the exterior to provide a modern feel. This is a unique Cape home because it already contained four generous bedrooms, three baths and a laundry room within the 2,800 square feet. As a result, the interior remained relatively unchanged. The beauty of a Cape Cod renovation is the ability to upgrade the exterior and change the look and feel of the home.

Cape Cod Expansion Plans

cape cod style house renovations retains existing feel of your home

In this “L-shaped shoebox” located in Fairfield, CT, the renovation worked with the steep roof that marks a Cape Cod style house. The home, originally built in the 1970s, received little attention over the years prior to this large renovation.

Technically, this Gambrel style is part of the Cape Cod home family, and the architectural design replicated the intricate exterior details. The design team draped a beautiful “gown” over the roof and expanded sweeping rooflines throughout the additions. In fact, you can still see the old house behind the new home design.

Additionally, Cape Cod-style homes allow for expansion within the home. The second part of this Cape renovation includes high ceilings that provide a generous open kitchen and family room that are ideal for entertaining. The home includes a luxury master suite that showcases the beautiful pond view on the property and fireplace!

At Cardello Architects, we pride ourselves on our cultivating architectural designs that meet your needs. Our residential services range from consultation and design development to bidding and construction administration. We work with all types of homes, including any Cape Cod-style house to create the home of your dreams.

If you’d like to learn more about Cardello Architects, then contact us to discuss your dream home today.

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