Cape Cod Home Style – Meaning, Characteristics, Pros, & Cons

Architectural Styles, Blog

Everyone has their preference when you talk about home style or architecture, as well as the defining element for each style. The Cape Cod architectural style has been around since the 17th century. And even with the simple look, this home style remains a popular choice and will continue to enchant homeowners.

But knowing exactly what this home style holds is very important before going into your home build or renovation project. To help you out, I will lay out all the essential information about this home style, including its defining features, pros, and cons associated with this home style. Let’s get started.

What is a Cape Cod home style?

Although this style is named after the region where it is most popular, which is Cape Cod in Massachusetts, a house does not have to be there before it is considered a Cape Cod Home Style. Likewise, just because a house is in Cape Cod, it doesn’t mean the house falls within this style. So, what exactly categorizes a house style as the cape cod style?

Traditionally, a cape cod style home is a single-story home, with a low and broad rectangular profile, a large central chimney, a pitched side-gabled roof, and low or very little ornamentation. In later years, dormers and a second story can be added. However, other primary features are still maintained.

What are the defining features of the Cape Cod home style?

It’s not just enough to call a house “Cape Cod”; like other home styles, there are some particular elements that define this style. While these elements might not all be present in all Cape Cod homes, at least some of them will be present for the home to be categorized as a Cape Cod home. Some of these defining features include the following;


  • Steep roofs with side gables and an overhang to help snow and rain quickly run off of the roof
  • Shingle sidings
  • Simple exterior ornamentations
  • Double-hung windows with shutters
  • Large centralized chimney
  • Symmetrical appearance with a centered front entry


  • One story plus a half-story second floor
  • Low ceilings
  • Large, open-concept living space
  • Clean lines, with little aesthetic detailing

What are the benefits of the Cape Cod home style?

The Cape Cod home style bears many benefits over other home styles. Some of the benefits include the following;

1. Aesthetically appealing

The Cape Cod home style carries one of the most appealing aesthetics. They make for one of the prettiest homes on any block. The sloping roof is simple yet still striking; the front door at the center of the house also offers a pleasing symmetry to the exterior of the home.

2. Relatively affordable

Another benefit of the Cape Cod home style is that it is relatively affordable to build. They carry simple features with low or no ornamentations; this can help reduce the cost of building. The maintenance and repair costs will also be reduced in the long run with this home style.

3. Durability

The roof for the Cape Cod home is very durable; they are built to withstand harsh wind storms or snow storms. The snow will even add to the aesthetic of the home, seating rather pretty on the gabled roof. Although, the snow won’t stay for a long time, which is also a good thing.

Are there any drawbacks to the Cape Cod home style?

Cape Cod homes are adorable, adaptable, and affordable, but of course, there are some downsides associated with this architectural style. Some notable ones include the following;

1. Size

The size of Cape Cod homes is an issue for most homeowners who want ample space and storage in the home. Traditional Cape Cod homes are between 1,200 to 1,800 square feet, which might come out too small for larger-size families. You can invest in expansion, but it will likely cost you a fortune.

2. The second floor is actually half a floor

Cape Cod homes are often considered one-story homes, for a good reason, I should add. The second floor does not have nearly enough amount of square footage as the first floor. So even if the second floor is properly insulated, it is still not fully functional like the first floor. There is also the issue of heat on the second floor, which can make it unconducive during summer.


Are Cape Cod-style homes expensive to maintain?

One of the main benefits of this home style is that it requires little and less expensive maintenance.

Where is the Cape Code home style most popular?

This home style is most popular in Massachusetts, in the Midwest, and along the west coast.

What era is the Cape Cod architectural style?

The Cape Code house style dates back to the last quarter of the 17th century to about 1830.

How tall are Cape Cod homes?

The height will depend on the home’s design but will range between 16 to 20 feet.

Wrapping things up

The Cape Cod-style home has been around for centuries, and I don’t see this style going any time soon. There is something about the appearance of Cape Cod homes that appeals to all prospective homeowners. It is truly an American classic, and if this style speaks to you, then it is the right choice for you and your family.

That said, the Cape Cod might still not be the right choice for you if it doesn’t appeal to your lifestyle. You can also see these articles on the Contemporary, Traditional, and American Craftsman styles; one might just be the right choice for you.

Thanks for reading.

About Samkins

Samkins Construction Inc specializes in custom home building, general contracting, design-build, architectural design, construction management, and real estate services.


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