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Cape Cod Home Architecture

June 18th, 2013

Cape cod homeCape Cod Home Architecture

Does the sound of Cape Cod make you immediately think of small New England villages? The formal name is Cape Cod cottage style and was designed from the very early days of the Pilgrims.

They started with the idea of an English house with a hall and parlor as a model, and then modified it for the harsh New England winters. They used local cedar to make wide clapboards or shingles, and local oak or pine for the hardwood floors

And unlike the English manor homes, these houses had only one story with a useable attic. Also, Cape Cod cottages were on the smaller size, not usually more then 2000 square feet.

Instead of having large windows, the New Englanders arranged smaller panes of glass in patterns to look like larger windows. This saved money as the smaller window panes were much cheaper, and easier to replace if one broke. Plus, it was easier to ship from England. Typically in the gables, they would arrange six or nine panes.

There was a Colonial revival in the U.S. from around the 1930’s through the 1950’s where the houses were made larger, and windows were added to the dormer.

Cape Cod-style homes have three categories:

  1. The half has a door to one side of the house and two windows on one side of the door.
  2. The three-quarter has a door with two windows on one side and a single window on the other.
  3. The full Cape has a front door in the center with two windows on either side.

The layout is almost exactly the same for all. Inside the front door, a central staircase led to the small upper level, which consisted of two children’s bedrooms.  The lower floor consisted of a hall for daily living (including cooking, dining, and gathering) and the parlor, or master bedroom.

The homes usually don’t have a front porch. The colors of the house tend towards natural or earthy colors, and the front door is usually painted a bright color and has an ornament or a wreath. The door itself can also be ornately carved.

The roof is steep and has a small overhang over the front door. There’s usually a white picket fence around the front yard. And the homes have detached garages.

Inside, most rooms are finished with white crown molding, and have hardwood flooring except for the kitchen which has linoleum or ceramic tiles. The walls are painted to reflect the seaside in colors of ocean blue, sandy beige and sunset red. The accents are almost always white.

So the downside of a Cape Cod home is that they’re actually hard to heat because you have a lot of rooms in a smaller footprint. Your best bet is to look into space heaters if you want to cut back on running central heating, if you even have that. The homes built in the 1950s did not have insulation, so if you are looking at a home, see if it was remodeled recently and if they upgraded the insulation.

Some homes didn’t have any heating put into the second floor either, or they used water pipes in the walls as radient heat. If so, you may need to check the plumbing to ensure that it’s not disintegrating.

Cape Cod homes were designed to be efficient with space, but not for energy.  Thankfully, if you live where it snows, they were well designed to deal with that with the sloping of the roof.

Would you want a Cape Cod cottage?

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