Cape Cod House: An Architectural Style of Simplicity and Elegance!
A House with a simple, timeless clean-line silhouette and symmetric layout. A home fill with traditional culture and coziness with a beachy style twist. After reading this, what style of home comes to your mind? Yes, we’re talking about the Cape Cod homes. They have been around for centuries; still, they continue to enchant us. Cape Cod architecture is a well known and easily recognizable style of American architecture. If you ask any kid to draw a picture of a house, surely he’ll draw a Cape Cod cottage!
Name after the Massachusetts coastal region, Cape Cod architecture consists of a simple house plan, yet it is quite popular. This architecture is mainly found in New England as it is the signature style there. But they are also found all across the United States. Even today, the original Cape Cod architectural style inspires many new constructions. But what makes a Cape Cod-style home so unique and timeless?
Keep reading to learn interesting things and facts about this quaint architectural style, including long history, different types of Cape Cod homes, and most importantly, the key elements & characteristics of cape cod style homes.
In 1675, Cape Cod was a popular style for homes. People use half-timber English houses with a hall as a model to protect themselves from New England’s stormy weather. They typically built them around one story (sometimes 1-1/2 stories) with a steep roofline with side gables. There were also a small overhang, wood siding, multi-pane windows, and hardwood floors. All the elements were built for a practical reason. For example, large dormer windows were create to get more space, light, and ventilation. Not only this, but there are a lot of things that make them unique. What are they? Let’s start with their amazing history.
The Origins of Cape Cod Architecture
The Cape Cod style houses are actually from the time of the earliest Puritan settlers. Believe it or not! But this style was first introduce by the English colonists to the United States in the 17th century. These people came with the idea of English half-timber hall and parlor houses to accommodate New England’s harsh winter climate.
The main cape cod houses start building from 1690 to 1850, but at that time, the name Cape cod was not given to them. The term “Cape Cod house” was given by the President of Yale University, Timothy Dwight IV, after a visit to these cottages. He observe these structures carefully, and these were also publish in “Travels in New England and New York” (1821-22).
The second wave, “Cape Cod Revival,” arose from the 1920s to the 1950s. This is the time where this style gain immense popularity across the United States. Because of the symmetrical design, open living space, and arrangement, it was later consider a quintessentially American style. Steep roofs were construct to minimize the weight of snow settling on the roof, and low ceilings & shutters were meant to conserve heat and also block harsh winter winds.
What Exactly is a Cape Cod Style House?
Image Source: thespruce.com
Cape Cod architecture is one of the popular home styles in the U.S, and there have been a lot of similarities between Cape houses and traditional American Colonial homes.
Originally Cape Cod houses were small, rectangular cottages that were usually one-and-a-half stories high. The Cape Cod structures in the 17th-century were modest. They can be describe as one-room deep, wood-frame houses with shingle exteriors. They have a steeply pitch roof, a big central chimney, and low ceilings. There was also a central door, which was surround by wooden shutter-clad windows.
Now let’s talk about the main features of cape cod architecture. What’re the things that make them special among all the other architectural styles? Below elements are always an essential part of any cape cod home, whether be it traditional or revival one:
- These houses have a Symmetrical appearance. There is a center front entry that opens to a central hall and dining space.
- Every cape cod home has a large central chimney in the middle of the structure. It is directly locate behind the main entrance door, and all the rooms are cluster around it in a rectangular shape.
- Cape Cods generally have a steep, slanted, gabled roof and a shallow roof overhang (sometimes side-gabled) to quickly shed rain and snow.
- These homes always have two Double-hung windows with shutters on each side of the door and sometimes have a dormer on each side of the chimney.
- The second level can be access by a narrow stair, or ‘captain’s stairway.’
- The other most recognizable elements of classic Cape Cod Architecture are the weather grey shingles.
- Overall, cape cod house plans have a simple exterior without any porch and roofline.
- These homes have a simple rectangular layout, that is usually in small (one-story) size. But the house plan is always one-and-a-half level or three-quarter Cape.
- These places have extremely low ceilings, which also help conserve heat.
- The overall layout or plan always features a large, open-concept living space.
- Bedrooms are usually locate in dormers or under gables.
- The interiors have clean lines, bold features with a little aesthetic detailings.
Materials Used in Cape Cod Architecture
Talking about basic building materials, all Cape Cod houses were traditionally construct using local materials. The reason behind this was to stand up against the harsh weather of the New England winters.
- Oak and pine woods are use for post and beam framing.
- Oak and pine wood flooring
- All homes have brick fireplaces.
- Clapboard or cedar shake roof with side shingles was left unpaint. This can be seen in original Cape Cod cottages.
- During the Cape Cod revival in the mid-20th century, black shutters on white exteriors had become a classic color combination.
Variations on the Cape Cod home
There are also some variations seen in cape cod architecture. Smaller variations of the homes were call “single Capes” or “three-quarter Capes. Do you know how these sizes were dictate? It depends on the number of family members and available finances. But whether it was small or big, every classic cottage had a central front entrance with two windows on each side.
Image Source: capelinks.com
Half cape cottages have a front door (just like any other) on one side of the home with two multi-paned glass windows. They’re use by small families, and this variation is sometimes also known as a Single Cape.
Three quarter cape homes have two multi-paned windows on one side and one multi-paned window on the other side. In the 18th and early-19th centuries, this style of Cape was quite popular.
Image Source: realtor.com
The full cape is also known as Double Cape, and it can also be seen today in many parts of America. This home was construct for the big families by wealthy people. These homes usually consist of two multi-paned windows (place symmetrically on either side), a steep roof, and a massive chimney.
Fascinating Facts About Cape Cod Architecture
- After World War II, Boston architect Royal Barry Willis was instrumental in the spread of Cape Cod style homes throughout the United States.
- After soldiers return home from World War II, these houses instantly gain popularity because of their affordability, especially during the Great Depression.
- Royal Barry Wills add amenities like bathrooms, kitchens, and garages so that the middle-class families can use cape cod houses.
- The Dugan residence and The Levittown House ( built by William J. Levitt and Sons in Long Island, N.Y) are some of the famous examples of Cape Cod Architecture.
- Levittown was the first major housing development company, and it has build more than 17,000 virtually identical Cape Cod homes.
Here are some cape cod style homes exterior ideas for you to know more about this classic architecture:
Image Source: pinimg.com
Image Source: hzcdn.com
Image Source: hzcdn.com
Image Source: homedit.com
Image Source: hzcdn.com
Now you know the answer, why people fall in love with Cape Cod-style homes and how they became one of the most influential architectural styles in America. This style proves that even a simple house plan with practical and functional detailings can become a popular choice.
I hope you like the Cape Cod Architecture that has stood the test of time. For more interesting blogs and architectural guidance, keep coming to Architeturesstyle.
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